It is hoped that the following pages will demonstrate something of the essential interplaybetween nature and culture
between chemistry, mind set, and social and historicalsetting
in the use of hallucinogenic plants and other psychoactive substances by differentpeoples the world over. Obviously, many significant areas of research inpsychopharmacology and ethnobotany, as well as some interesting and as yet little-understood nonchemical "techniques of ecstasy" have had to be slighted, in favor of in-depth treatment of some others of more general interest. Besides, this is an ongoing story:"new" botanical hallucinogens and other naturally occurring psychoactive substances
someperhaps never culturally exploited, others long forgotten by the people who formerly usedthem, and yet others successfully concealed for centuries from the prying eyes of outsiders
are even now being discovered and scientifically described and tested. Still moreawait botanical and pharmacological identification beyond the native terms under whichthey appear in the ethnohistorical literature or reports of travelers and ethnographers. Evenfor Indian Mexico or Amazonia, whose extensive psychoactive pharmacopoeia has beenrelatively well studied, we still do not know the identity of every species used in nativeritual, prehistorically or at present, nor do we as yet fully understand the pharmacological orcultural role of additives to plants of known or suspected psychoactivity. Indeed, in theopinion of such authorities as Richard Evans Schultes, Director of Harvard's BotanicalMuseum, it is precisely the function of these additives to the botanical hallucinogens thatpresents one of the most exciting challenges to the modern investigator of the psychedelicphenomenon in indigenous societies. Clearly, then, there is a world yet to be discovered.The concerned reader is urged to keep up with the more specialized ethnobotanicalpublications and the rapidly growing literature on brain biochemistry and scientific andhumanistic explorations into the uses and abuses of alternate states of consciousness.
Many colleagues and publications were consulted in the writing of this book; while theircontributions, personal or in print, are acknowledged in the text, they should know thatwithout their generosity in sharing their expertise the task of writing it would have beenimpossible. In particular I would like to express my thanks to Dr. Johannes Wilbert,Professor of Anthropology and Director, Latin American Center, University of California atLos Angeles; to Dr. Weston La Barre, James B. Duke Professor of Anthropology, DukeUniversity; and to R. Gordon Wasson, Honorary Research Associate, Botanical Museum,Harvard University. Special personal and professional thanks are owed to Richard EvansSchultes, who never failed to give generously of his time and knowledge, be it in helping toidentify esoteric plant motifs in pre-Columbian an or in clarifying problems of botany andpsychopharmacology encountered in the field. Professor Schultes also read the manuscriptfor botanical-pharmacological accuracy, but he is obviously not responsible for anyshortcomings.P.T.F.Albany, N.Y.March, 1976
For example, the soon-to-be-published proceedings of a conference on alternate states of consciousnesssponsored in 1975 by the Drug Abuse Council, Inc., and two earlier publications by the Council,
Altered Slates of Consciousness
"High" States: A Beginning Study
, by Norman E. Zinberg, M.D. (1974).