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From: (Zapotec Blue)
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: Book Review: Ott's Pharmacotheon
Date: 11 Jan 1995 20:22:59 -0500

Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic drugs, their plant sources and history
by Jonathan Ott, foreward by Albert Hofmann

ISBN 0-9614234-3-9, 640pg Softcover, Natural Products Co. 1993 - $40.00
Sales: Johnathan Ott, P.O. Box 1251; Occidental, CA 95465

Cover illustrated by former vegetalista Pablo Amaringo's magnificent tempura
painting of an ayahuasca visionary healing "Pregnant By An Anaconda". Wow.

The first thing Ott does is to explain his use of the neologism 'entheogenic'
in the title and throughout the book. He says that since we know from
experience that shamanic inebriants do not provoke "hallucinations" or
"psychosis," it would be incongruous to refer to traditional shamanic use of
"psychedelic" plants. He states that his term "is not meant to specify a
pharmocological class of drugs; rather, it designates drugs which provoke
ecstasy and have traditionally been used as shamanic or religious inebriants,
as well as their active principles and artificial congeners."

Albert Hofmann writes in the foreward, "It is the first comprehensive
scientific compendium on the subject of entheogenic drugs, a particularly
interesting sector of the drug world. The emphasis is on comprehensive and
scientific, as this book deals in detail with all aspects of entheogenic
drugs - their botany, chemistry, neuropharmacology, ethnology and history.
Herein the scientific specialist will find access to all of the source
publications in a voluminous bibliography, to which reference is made in the

Ott's Pharmacotheon could be called the Shaman's Desk Reference. In the
preface "Proemium" Ott says, "the goal in writing the present book was
two-fold: first, to write a reference book for the specialist, citing the
most important sources in the historical, anthropological, botanical,
chemical and pharmacological literature, meanwhile placing this subject in
the broader context of general ethnobotany. Thus I have updated and greatly
enlarged the best existing bibliography to the subject, that of Botany and
Chemistry of Hallucinogens. The present bibliography is triple the size of
that of Schultes and Hofmann, and even so, does not pretend to be exhaustive.
My second goal..has been to detail the complex history of entheogenic drugs,
and to trace the particular story of how these drugs came to be available to
non-traditional users in the twentieth century. In contrast to the authors of
many treatises on this subject, I consider the enthnobotany of entheogenic
plants and their active agents in contemporaty western culture to be every
bit as important as their traditional ethnobotany, if not more so."

I don't have much to add to that except it's all true! This book is a huge
masterpiece of scholarship and a real milestone in the literature. The text
is copiously referenced and footnoted. There are no illustrations save a few
molecular diagrams and little Mexican mushroom deities who keep showing up.
If you want illustrations i highly recommend Schultes and Hofmann's Plant's
of the Gods. To give you a feel for the content and it's comprehensiveness
i shall reproduce the table of contents as my final act of book reviewage:

Table Of Contents

Foreward by Albert Hofmann                                                11
A Note On The Text                                                        15
Proemium                                                                  19
Part One: Beta-Phenethylamines                                            79
    Chapter 1: Mescaline, Peyotl, San Pedro, Artificial Phenethylamines   81
Part Two: Indole Derivatives                                             117
    Chapter 2: LSD, Ololiuhqui, Kykeon: The Ergoline Complex             119
    Chapter 3: DMT, Cohoba, Epena: Short-Acting Tryptamines              163
    Chapter 4: Beta-Carbolines and Ayahuasca Potions                     199
    Chapter 5: Psilocybine/Psilocine/Baeocystine:
               The Teonanacatl Complex                                   275
Part Three: Isoxazole Derivatives                                        321
    Chapter 6: Ibotenic Acid/Muscimol:
               The Primordial Panx and Amrta                             323
Part Four: Appendicies, Bibliography, Index, Acknowledgements            359
Appendix A: Sundry Visionary Compounds                                   361
    I. Asarones and Acorus calamus                                       361
   II. Atropine, Hyoscyamine, Scopolamine: The Visionary Tropanes        363
  III. Ibogaine, Tabernanthine, Voacangine: From Eboka to Sananho        371
   IV. Nicotine, Tobaccos and Pituri                                     373
    V. Kava-Pyrones and Psychoactive Piper Species                       376
   VI. Salvinorin A and Ska Pastora                                      380
  VII. Tetrahydrocannabinols and Cannabis Species                        384
 VIII. Thjones and Visionary Artemisia Species                           389
Appendix B: Putative Entheogenic Species                                 395
Appendix C: Index of Entheogenic Chemistry and Pharmacology              429
Appendix D: Botanical Index                                              455
Appendix E: Suggested General Reading                                    471
Bibliography                                                             481
General Index                                                            603
Acknowledgements and Notes                                               633

reviewed by someone at,
**end of review
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