Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers” as Want to Read:
Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,202 ratings  ·  45 reviews
World-renowned anthropologist and ethnopharmacologist Christian Ratsch provides the latest scientific updates to this classic work on psychoactive flora by two eminent researchers.

• Numerous new and rare color photographs complement the completely revised and updated text.

• Explores the uses of hallucinogenic plants in shamanic rituals throughout the world.

• Cross-refer
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Healing Arts Press (first published 1979)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Plants of the Gods, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Plants of the Gods

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,202 ratings  ·  45 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: PetraX
Years and years ago, when I was tiny, I made a short film for the BBC about Salvia divinorum, a Mexican plant which was in those days gaining some notoriety as a legal high. Imagining myself, with youthful hubris, as a sort of latter-day Aldous Huxley circa Doors of Perception, I pitched it to my editor by saying that I'd only make the film if I was allowed to get off my tits on the stuff personally in front of the camera. Since my editor rarely bothered to even look up when I went into his offi ...more
Graeme Rodaughan
This is an excellent go to resource on the use of psychotropic compounds by pre-industrial societies.

A fascinating topic in it's own right, detailed in full, and marvelously illustrated.

Some of the images in this book remind me strongly of experiences I've had just sitting around doing nothing. Pretty amazing stuff and worth a read by anyone with a curious mind.
Mar 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As a worker who studies altered states of consciousness, I found this text to give needed background and context to the use of psychodelics in our culture. Are all trips flowers and sunshine? A well-photographed healing session with the shaman Maria Sabina as presented in this book would tell us no. Maria proclaims her patient's disease to be fatal, and his reaction is profound; working with psilocybin and cancer patients, our preliminary data presents some tearful, anxious reactions. However, M ...more
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ethnobotanists, Historians
Shelves: ethnobotany
Plants of the Gods is a collaborative work by ethnobotany greats Albert Hofmann, Richard Evans Schultes, and Christian Ratsch. It is an overview of various psychoactive plants and their uses in cultures of the past and present. It goes into detail on many of these plants, such as the morning glory vine Ololuiqui, the Peyote cactus, the Ayahausca brew, and DMT-containing snuff powders made from the Yopo.

The book also discusses the roles of psychoactive plants in modern psychotherapy and medicine
Jessica Clark
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must have for the study of ethnobotany and entheogens. It gives a detailed description of how hallucinogens work, and the context of their ritualistic use. It also covers a broad range of psychoactives in detail, and has a list of more unknown hallucinogenic plants. It does this in a fairly condensed fashion too.
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a bit more specific than I am interested in learning - I love Schultes' work as an anthropologist, but this book is mainly for botanist who are interested in the specific powers of plants. So a bit too much for me, but a respectful work nonethless.
Oct 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
You could call this a reference book for psychoactive plants but its awful fun and interesting to read compared to most of the dry reference books of all sorts I've read. Plants of the Gods is also full of nice illustrations and photographs. Schultes deserves a lot of credit for doing the leg work going into the Amazon back in the 1940s and collecting and learning about the uses of these plants long before the days of Ayahuasca tourism.
Jan 31, 2008 added it
very informantive. lots of great pictures and maps. these plants are all around us!
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
excellent information on the use of certain entheogens by shamanic based cultures around the world....
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was certainly very informative, and I would like to address some its aspects:
- it was very good, because when possible, the active substances were identified, and they were compared with neurotransmitters occurring in the brain;
- it was excellent when more details were provided about some well-known plants;
- sadly, there was no information about cases of accidental overdoses (after all, we are talking about toxins here and only the dosage makes it a toxin).

Fun fact 1:
Atropa belladon
Aug 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was a curious blend of a reference guide for hallucinogen plants the world over, anthropological case studies of their traditional use in indigenous societies, and a small discussion on their chemistry and psychiatric potential. While the case studies were interesting at first, their similarity and sheer number made a big part of the book feel quite redundant. Honestly, it was only the small part on the chemistry and psychiatric potential of these plants that held my interest and even ...more
Rajesh Hegde
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Must read book to understand the history, cultural practices with psychedelics use across the world in pre-industrial times. It is fascinating to know there are close to 100 psychedelic plants (found so far) and all are documented in this book. There is also good collection of drawings and paintings people received during their visions.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, drugs, science
A great work of ethnobotany and anthropology. Humans have the capacity for a variety of altered states of consciousness, and a major question is how to integrate this into our contemporary society; a task which has failed unfortunately, I would say.
Spencer Rich
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good overall view. Definitely interested in things like Salvia and Iboga. Some of it was just boring reference stuff that I had to skim. Much of the last chapter was devoted to experiments with hallucinogens and psychoanalysis in the West. Pretty heady stuff.
Megan Hex
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Outstanding work of anthropology, often going to direct sources in aboriginal cultures for research. The science is a little outdated, but the book is almost 30 years old, and none of it is inaccurate—just limited compared to what we know now.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderfull, surely an asset to all interested.
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love this book! Amazing information from around the world!
James Elliott
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful review of entheogenic plants and their traditional usage throughout the world.
Max Kondziolka
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Highly researched, outstanding anthropological study and ethnobotanical guide.
Jc Olsen
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic book. Tons of illustrations, too.
May 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Where would the West be without Schultes? He was the Director of the Botanical Museum at Harvard and can largely be credited with bringing significant entheogenic enthnobotanical knowledge to a wider audience.

However, one can not give Schultes all the credit for this work. It helps when your co-authors are as brilliant as Christian Ratsch and the venerable Albert Hoffmann.
If one is only moderately interested in the topic of hallucinogens, then this is the single book that should be sitting on y
Dec 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A surreal & mind opening window into people's sacred relationship with plants from around the world. Great photos/art to go along with the information. A true pioneer in Western study of ethnobotany following in the footsteps of Spruce yet blazing his own path like no other. More a scientist than a mystic but so respectful of his work...heartfelt grattitude goes out to him for his yearn to explore & expand on the world as he knew it. ...more
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I like this book because it gave me a history lesson on some of the plants that I have managed to obtain in my life so far. I was really happy to read about the Datura plant because I bought this flower four years ago and didn't realize that it had so much history to it. It is nice to find out the plants I have bought are intersected in the history of early civilizations. If you have any questions about certain "odd" looking plants, you need to see if they are in books like these.
David Ward
Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers by Richard Evans Schultes (Healing Arts Press 1992) ( 394) appears to be the bible of natural hallucinogens. It's a wonderful encyclopedia of the plants that have historically led humans to believe in gods and other worlds. It's a catalog with historical perspectives supplied and a very important book. My rating: 9/10, finished 3/20/14.
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very informative and interesting book. In depth about the subject matter, and amazing how many cultures apply properties of plants in their society. Makes me wonder why we now discontinue this type of practice. How is criminalization and punishment for use of plants address any issues of their possible downfalls?
Sky Feather
Apr 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Some points are still outdated. It states for example that there are no known receptors in the human brain for Salvinorin A... Also, some other minor ones such as Trichocereus spp. which years ago moved to the Echinopsis genus. In general it's a good book with lots of ethnographic and ethnobotanical information.
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"Entheogens ... could be the appropriate medicine for hyper-materialistic humanity."
Beautifully illustrated with art, poetry, and hundreds of photos, this book is a respectful study of the biology, chemistry, anthropology, history, and culture of the use and cultivation of entheogens. Fascinating revelations about how plants & humans co-evolved.
Schultes was the original Indiana Jones of the hallucinogenic plant. he was Terence McKenna 30 years before McKenna was born. in terms of identifying & cataloging the sacred plants used by tribal peoples, Schultes was (and is) THE GUY. this is where it all begins. ...more
Mark R.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Thorough and nearly exhausting resource denoting the different types and varieties of hallucination-causing plants from all over the world. Lots of colorful photographs and useful information as to the origins and uses of these various mushrooms, herbs, and other fun vegetation.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Though not a "I can't wait to see what happens next" kind of book, in terms of info and photos, this is a fantastic compendium of the history of the world's psychoactive plants and how cultures have used them. These plants are everywhere in history, and have been used by everyone.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge
  • DMT: The Spirit Molecule
  • One River
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow
  • LSD: My Problem Child – Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science
  • The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead
  • Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft
  • Be Here Now
  • True Hallucinations
  • The Doors of Perception & Heaven and Hell
  • Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism
  • The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity
  • The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (CBC Massey Lecture)
  • The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
  • Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers
  • The Mystic Spiral: Journey of the Soul
  • The Way of Tarot: The Spiritual Teacher in the Cards
  • The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life
See similar books…
Richard Evans Schultes (SHULL-tees) (January 12, 1915 – April 10, 2001) may be considered the father of modern ethnobotany, for his studies of indigenous peoples' (especially the indigenous peoples of the Americas) uses of plants, including especially entheogenic or hallucinogenic plants (particularly in Mexico and the Amazon), for his lifelong collaborations with chemists, and for his charismatic ...more

Related Articles

There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
60 likes · 20 comments