The Practical Handbook of Plant Alchemy: An Herbalist's Guide to Preparing Medicinal Essences, Tinctures and Elixirs

Manfred M. Junius

Intensely detailed information on adapting practical alchemical techniques for making tinctures, essences and elixirs. These formulas, made according to alchemical processes, are termed by the author “spagyrics,” a combination of the Greek words spao (to divide) and ageiro (to join), or in other words, the classic “solve et coagula” familiar to most with a passing acquaintance with alchemy. The author says that most contemporary medicine only succeeds in the first step and not in the last. He uses his extensive background in Ayurveda, which he learned while growing up in India, to draw parallels between Alchemy and Chinese methods of healing which involve maintaining a body's integral balance. He goes into the principles of Salt, Mercury and Sulfur in great detail and sticks to the seven classical planetary principles of alchemy. The book goes into great detail about how to make herbal medicines. The author says in his forward that the reader should have a “fundamental knowledge of botanical medicine,” but the reader should also have some background knowledge on alchemy too. MM

Publisher: Healing Arts
Paperback: 272 pages

Plant Intoxicants: A Classic Text on the Use of Mind-Altering Plants

Baron Ernst Von Bibra

This book, originally published in 1855, provides a wonderful glimpse into commonly used drugs before the era of mass drug hysteria either in the prohibition or the advocacy of drug use. Bibra was a Bavarian nobleman whose family fortunes were on the decline. He had written several books on chemistry and art history before traveling to South America. After his journey he wrote Plant Intoxicants and Travels in South America, becoming more famous for the latter work. Most of the intoxicants he covers are drugs used by people every day such as coffee, tea, Paraguayan tea (yerba maté), chocolate, guarana, betel nuts and tobacco. The illegal drugs most people associate with “plant intoxicants” fill up a smaller portion of the book, covering coca, hashish and opium as well as khat. The chapters on each of the substances provide scientific information on the plant and its effects as well as cultural examples of it use throughout the world and information on everyday plant intoxicants which many of us take for granted. MM

Publisher: Healing Arts
Paperback: 228 pages

Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers

Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hoffman

This is an excellent survey of the historical and current use of hallucinogenic plants by indigenous people around the world. The first section of the book outlines the many different plants (far more than one might imagine) that are employed for their hallucinogenic properties, in order to heal or bring about altered states of consciousness in religious ceremonies. A complete plant lexicon is provided with color illustrations and also a geographic analog showing the regions where they can be found. Subsequent sections focus on specific plants such as the amanita mushroom and ayahuasca plant. Historical examples are given of the use of ergot and belladonna in Western Europe, among others. There are many contemporary examples such as the Fang cult of Bwiti who employ the iboga plant and the Kamsa tribe of Columbia use of the borrachero tree. The book is as insightful and entertaining as anthropology as it is as a study of hallucinogenic plants, and is lushly illustrated with plants, 3-D molecular models, photographs and maps. MM

Publisher: Healing Arts
Paperback: 192 pages