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Pharmako/Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path

4.61  ·  Rating details ·  317 ratings  ·  15 reviews
“Pendell’s ongoing subjects are the botanical ‘allies ’ humans have always associated with, and the ‘pharmakon,’ the drug that is both poison and cure. A poet, ethno-botanist and amateur chemist, he’s the best writer on drugs to come along since the late Terence McKenna.”—Richard Gehr, The Village Voice

“There is genius to Pendell’s approach, an erudite playfulness and poet
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Mercury House (first published July 1st 1999)
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Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you're interested in psychoactive drugs, but don't want to take any (like me), this book is perfect for you. DMT, shrooms, LSD, and others are artfully described, including the scientific breakdown of how the drugs work and visions seen on them. The artwork alone justifies buying this book.
I have to admit that I skimmed the second half of the text. I found it good, not great. The disjointed nature of the information made it somewhat difficult for me to follow. I appreciate the author's efforts to incorporate the chemistry/pharmacology/toxicology into the description of the botanicals, but having a degree in chemistry and having done my graduate work in toxicology, I found the science cursory at best. If I didn't have the background I do, I would have been left scratching my head. ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Pendell has surprised me yet again with another great book. Written in the style of Zen poetry meshed with anecdotal story-telling, Pendell takes us on an inner journey. This is the final book in his Pharmako trilogy, and it focused on psycedelic/entheogenic medicines. The only beef I had with the book was a 20+ page history of dragons, which seemed a bit out of place and unnecessary. The rest of the book was packed with valuable information and entrancing stories about medicines that fit into t ...more
Apr 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
So many plants, so many cultures, so many things we do not talk about.
M. Leibowitz
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the part of the trilogy most are going to go for, and while certainly worth reading, maybe even essential, Pendell trades his tokenizing perspective on Indigenous Peoples for some barely veiled anti-Semitism, including quoting Julius Evola. Read it with some skepticism.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nicole Fraticelli
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Looking forward to reading the rest of the Pharmako series. Great references and beautifully interwoven accounts on hallucinogenic plants, shamans, anthropology. Almost like reading a case study of the experiences of humanity with certain chemicals.
Diego González
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
These beautiful tomes deal with the wonders, dangers, and possibilities of the most powerful chemists on earth, plants and fungi. Coming at the topic from an approach not unlike The Botany of Desire (maybe plants are far more aware than we give them credit), Mr. Pendell writes elegies to plant teachers that tie in everything from chemistry, astrology, poetry, prose, history, music and mythology. Though dealing with many dangerous "allies" (as Mr. Pedell calls his subjects), these books do not co ...more
David Ward
Pharmako/Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path by Dale Pendell (Mercury House 1999) (615.321+/-). “Pharmacognosis” is the branch of pharmacology that deals with herbs and unprepared medicines in their natural state; this volume of three deals with visionary plants: hallucinogens and sleep aids/hypnotics among others. My rating: 7/10, finished 4/12/2015.
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Can't do any better than this...

From the back:

The Poet of Plants...Pendell May be America's Answer to Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth..."
-Emily Grenn, L.A. Times

"!?#*! Beautiful" - Dr. Alexander T. Shulgin

"A Beat Alchemist Working Textual DJ Decks" - Eric Davis
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The last in the series and my favorite of them all... I love these books.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is great, but the guy is not nearly as into mushrooms as he should be. That chapter was a bit of a wash. Still, the chapter on The Fool as an archetype is amazing.
William Brant
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
wide-ranging, poetic and scientific exploration of visionary plants.
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Dale Pendell is the author of the award-winning Pharmako trilogy, a literary history of psychoactive plants.
He reads and distills the literature of pharmacology and neuroscience, of ethnobotany and anthropology, of mythology and political economics as they intersect with the direct experience of human psychoactive use.

He and his wife Laura currently reside in California.

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