If your interest has been ignited by this series and you’re looking for a good resource to add to your library, let me suggest The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs by Richard Alan Miller. http://richardalanmiller.com/; http://www.amazon.com/The-Magical-Ritual-Use-Herbs/dp/0892814012
Richard Alan Miller is an old hippie who was smart enough to go to college and become a physicist, a bio-chemist, and an herbalist before he fried his brain (unlike other old hippies that I know). He is also a Pagan who feels that it’s ridiculous for the American government to allow Native Americans the legal use of peyote in religious ritual but not Wiccans and other “legal” nature based religions. This is a stance that I strongly agree with. While there’s not an unbroken lineage between the Earth-based religions of today and the religions of history, our modern Pagan paths are based on the practices of the ancients, and they used drugs as part of their religious ceremonies. If I want to have a good time I’ll get drunk or stoned, not spend an hour or more preparing peyote and then spending several more hours trying to force myself not to vomit as I hallucinate and commune with the Lord and Lady, wondering if the ants I feel on my skin are real or fake. Despite the ants and the nausea, the other experiences that I get from taking a substance like peyote are meaningful to me and my religious path and should be legal for anyone who wants to experience it.
Miller also views these plants and substances used in ritual as “sacraments,” which is similar to the way that many Central and South American native groups view them. These groups often view the plant’s spirit as a deity that you are taking into your body and asking to become one with you. It’s a whole other form of aspecting. Miller is also cool because he is very prompt about returning emailed questions from readers about dosage and recipe substitution. He replied to me within 24 hours with out having ever met me. He’s that dedicated.
The book is very easy to use. If you don’t want to read the whole work, you don’t have to. The book starts off with an intro into ritual and magic for new Pagans or non-Pagans who are reading the book (I have a feeling that a lot of anthropology classes probably assign this book as a companion reference to Castaneda’s questionable Don Juan series (beware of brujas, sparkling crows, and dogs that want to piss on you)).
The book is then divided into sections: stimulants, depressants, narcotics, and hallucinogens. There is also a quick reference chart at the end of the book which is really handy because we all know that Pagans are too lazy now to actually learn and memorize stuff (or as my partner claims “too busy”). Each plant entry contains an excellent line drawing of the plant that is good enough to identify a majority of the entries from nature, sacrament type, Latin and common names for the plant, the location where the plant grows wild, the habitat where you can find the plant, a botanical description, the history of use, the chemical make-up with diagrams, the primary effects, how to prepare the sacrament, ideas for ritual use, and any precautions that the user should keep in mind. Miller’s prose is not boring or overly scholarly.
Most of the plants that Miller covers in his book are legal (more or less) in most states in the US. Some of the plants do fall into gray areas, so do your homework. ”I didn’t know” never seems to work as a legal defense. Some of the plants are exotics that can easily be ordered online or found in local herb and health food stores, but many of them can be found for free in wild places or cultivated. Passion Flowers, lobelia, scullcap, Mormon Tea, valerian, wild lettuce, wormwood, calamus, morning glories, psilocyben, and datura (thorn apple or jimson weed) are all often found in gardens, pastures, and roadsides. Check out from the library a field guide for wild plants in your area and have fun harvesting.
I use my copy of The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs all the time. If you’re willing to shell out $15 for some book from Llewellyn, then you should definitely spring for this book. If you’re too poor or cheap to buy it, well there’s always Tortuga.
These folks enjoy ingesting plant deities from time to time:
The Geeky Kink Event http://thegeekykinkevent.com/
Tonia Brown www.thebackseatwriter.com
Chris Eagle Music http://chriseaglemusic.weebly.com/
Erotic Sensations http://eroticsensations.us/