When I began this project I started by compiling a list of all of the various resources that I have come across over the years that discuss the Poison Path. Some of the best books out there are a little obscure and take a little digging around to find them, since they aren’t mainstream New Age books. I also included various lists of websites and essays dealing with ethnobotanical study, and traditional witch’s herbs. I plan on completing my resource guide within the week, however I decided to give these books the attention they deserve, and do individual reviews for each one. I chose the Pharmako trilogy by Dale Pendell, which includes Pharmako Poeia, Pharmako Dynamis, and Pharmako Gnosis. These books have proven to be indispensable in my continuing study of poisonous plants and their magical applications.
Book One: Pharmako Poeia: Power Plants, Poisons, and Herbcraft
The first in a trilogy of volumes focusing on ethnobotanical lore from around the world. Scientist, poet, and ethnobotanical expert Dale Pendell discusses the nature of Power Plants, the nature of Poison, and plants as teachers and allies. The book is divided into sections based on Pendell’s own categorization of these plants, which paints a powerful cosmology. Following the beginning section on Power Plants, the book foes on to discuss topics such as Thanatopathia or “the tasting of death,” other categories like Euphorica and Metaphysica are determined by the nature the plants possess and their effect on the human psyche. Pendell has synthesized this information in such a powerful way; complete with historical information, poetry, unique writings and a revivification of traditional plant practices in a modern context. His experience as a scientist benefits the serious reader in presenting reliable and usable information on dosage, chemical composition and first hand experiences.
Book Two: Pharmako Dynamis: Stimulating Plants, Potions, and Herbcraft
Pharmako Poeia is followed by the second volume in the series, Pharmako Dynamis: Stimulating Plants, Potions and Herbcraft. Beginning with an introduction on plant allies and the nature of poison, this volume is organized like the first. The author discusses many of the well known visionary plants used in shamanic cultures around the world, including: Ayahuasca, Psilocybe, Lysergic acid amide, and Peyote. These visionary allies fall under the category known as Phantastica because of their ability to produce visionary experiences. New topics like Daimonica, which discussed the tropane alkaloids and Flying Ointments such as those made using Henbane and Belladonna. As the title suggests, Pharmako Dynamis is complete with lots of information on the many stimulants or Excitantia from around the world. This brilliant second volume comes in updated editions just like the others, and includes Pendell’s one of a kind craftsmanship.
Book Three: Pharmako Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path
The trilogy culminates with my personal favorite, Pharmako Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path. The finale is a detailed investigation of the Poison Path, and the powerful visionary plants of the ancient world. Gnosis expands on the first two volumes, going more in depth on certain topics. The preface sets the tone for the book with the titles, “Pharmakon: On Poisonous Knowledge and Plant Teachers” and “The Path of Eve.” This volume is most closely aligned with both traditional and modern European and American witchcraft. This is an indispensable tome for any serious traveler of the Crooked Way.
More information on the Poison Path will be coming soon. I’m finishing up on my master resource guide for the Poison Path, and will be continuing individual reviews for the resources on the master resource guide.
For more information on Dale Pendell or to purchase these books go to http://www.dalependell.com.