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Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft (edition 1994)

by Dale Pendell

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214554,496 (4.44)1
Member:veg
Title:Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft
Authors:Dale Pendell
Info:Mercury House (1994), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft by Dale Pendell

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“Dale Pendell reactivates the ancient connection between the bardic poet and the shaman. His Pharmako/Poeia is a litany to the secret plant allies that have always accompanied us along the alchemical trajectory that leads to a new and yet authentically archaic future.”
  TerenceKempMcKenna | Feb 24, 2013 |
Well, here's a unique book. It's a kind of encyclopedia of psychoactive substances, ranging from beer to Salvia divinorum. But no, it's not really an encyclopedia - it's more poetry than reference, fact mixed with metaphor and a good deal of cryptic imagery. The sections on the plants are interspersed with mysterious writings on alchemy, the meanings of which are often unclear. The descriptions of the substances contain scattered paragraphs concerning interesting historical overviews, chemical details, mythological tales, strange poetry. This book has a wonderful atmosphere of mystique.It can perhaps seem a little forced at times, and it's often frustrating trying to decipher what the author meant, if anything, with his talk of sun doctors and quicksilver. The very "Poison Path", a concept that seems to be the foundation of the book's philosophy, is never clearly explained, and I'm still not sure I know what it's all about. But this confusion, if you're in the right mindset for it, reinforces the feeling that this book holds the key to a great secret knowledge, ready to be revealed if only you could figure out what the lock is.But it's not a book about occultism. It's (almost) always clear that all this mystical talk is only metaphor, and Pendell sounds more like a mad poet than like a new age quack.Pharmako/Poeia is not, I repeat, a book of reference. There's much to be learned from it, to be sure, but those looking for comprehensive information on psychoactive substances should look elsewhere (there is, however, a terrific commented bibliography here, which can help direct the reader's own research). It's hard to label this book and say exactly what it's about, because it's unlike anything I've ever read. Maybe there's a hint of House of Leaves here; that's the closest thing I can think of. Reading this is a remarkable experience, and I recommend it highly. ( )
1 vote clpm | Aug 3, 2011 |
First of three books in the Pharmako series. What a wonderfully bizarre book. I don't even know where to start. Technically it's non-fiction. At its core it's a book on plants/herbs; specifically, ones that have interesting effects on human physiology. Unlike most non-fiction books, this one is written in a prose style and filled with fascinating quotes from scientists, poets and philosophers. It's also filled with classical botanical drawings and medieval wood-cuts.

It's a really great read -- one part history lesson, one part poetry, one part witchcraft. Besides the usual suspects: alcohol (yeast), cannabis, tobacco and opium; there are scores of other plants most people know nothing about: Salvia Divinorum, Kava, Wormwood and more. Books like this could easily be bloodless, dry and tedious, but Pendell's presentation is thought-provoking, well researched and beautiful (the artwork) -- even humorous. Pendell has a really wry wit. He covers how various plants were used in folk medicine, ritual, and how they work into our mythology and continue to effect our social systems. Also included are: growing tips, preparation, recipes, dosage, and dangers.

Here's one area I don't often comment on: the layout. The way this book is designed makes it a pleasure to read AND allows easy-to-find access to topics should you choose to use it as a manual or recipe book. It also includes an extensive glossary, index, and resources. ( )
3 vote Dead_Dreamer | Jun 23, 2008 |
In the Pharmako trilogy, Pendell's poesis guides through the guantlet of psychoactive substances. Their history and application is interwoven with art both visual and verbal. This book is not a simple encyclopedia. It is a living document of ancient pharmocological knowledge.

Pharmoko/Poeia takes us through a multitude of muses both helpful and destructive. Solar. lunar. Benevolent, Malevont. Alcohol, Cannabis, Salvia, Heroin, and more. The Sheperdess is the least ensalving. The others like to cling. ( )
  poetontheone | Jul 20, 2007 |
A strange but beautiful book. It reminds me of midnight reading and uncovering secrets one should be initiated into. I took a underground shortcut. Plants and how they affect the psychology, that's how you can frame the book, but you can also say it's about writers, varying intoxications and correspondances.... ( )
  lisa_emily | Apr 26, 2007 |
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"Pharmako dynamis: stimulating plants, potions, and herbcraft focuses on stimulants (including coffee, tea, chocolate, and coca and its derivatives) and empathogens (notably Ecstasy)"--Provided by publisher.

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