Tag Archives: Psychotria viridis

A Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants

A Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants by Richard Evans Schultes & Elmer W. Smith

Published in 1976,  this book has been out of print for many years. It is  beautifully illustrated with detailed botanical paintings and extremely  informative narratives. There is a conspiracy theory that it was removed from publication (albeit after four editions!)  due to pressure by the authorities. In the Golden Guide Collectors page it says ” I will finish my tutorial by talking about the myths on Hallucinogenic Plants. Almost every time I see this book for sale it’s mentioned that it was pulled, suppressed, recalled or words to that effect. I’m sure this book was frowned upon when it showed up in libraries. And Golden Press probably was pressured to quit publishing this title. But it took a while. The softcover went through 4 printings. And the large hardcover went through 2 printings. The ultimate reason Golden Press quit publishing this book may never be known”.

Schultes Foreword

Hallucinogenic plants have been used by man for thousands of years, probably since he began gathering plants for food . The hallucinogens have continued to receive the attention of civilized man through the ages. Recently, we have gone through a period during which sophisticated Western society has “discovered ” hallucinogens, and some sectors of that society have ta ken up,for one reason or another, the use of such plants. This trend may be destined to continue.

It is,therefore,important for us to learn as much as we can about ha llucinogenic plants. A great body of scientific literature has been published a bout their uses and their effects, but the information is often locked away in technical journals. The interested layman has a right to sound information on which to base his opm1ons. This book has been written partly to provide that kind of information.

No matter whether we believe that man’s intake of hallucinogens in primitive or sophisticated societies constitutes use, misuse, or abuse, hallucinogenic plants have undeniably played an exten sive role in human culture and probably shall continue to do so. It follows that a clear understanding of these physically and socially potent agents should be a part of man’s general education.

R . E . S


RICHARD EVANS SCHULTES, Ph.D., F.L.S., is professor of natural sciences and director of the Botanical Museum at Harvard University. An internationally known botanist specializing in narcotic, medicinal and poisonous plants, Dr. Schultes spent some 14 years in South America living among Indian tribes in order to investigate directly their uses of such plants. Dr. Schultes is the recipient of numerous honors, among them a decoration from the government of Colombia for his work in the Amazon, and is a member of several American and foreign academies of science, including the National Academy of Sciences. He is editor of the journal Economic Botany and the author of many scientific papers; with Albert Hofmann he wrote The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens.

ELMER W. SMITH, a new England Yankee by birth and inclination, is a free-lance artist, self-taught in art, with an M.S. degree from the University of Massachusetts. He illustrated the Golden Guide ORCHIDS, and has traveled and collected in the Amazon with his friend and colleague the author of HALLUCINOGENIC PLANTS. Smith’s work appears in children’s books as well as in scientific journals, and he has illustrated numerous textbooks in the field of biology. Currently he is an artist at the Botanical Museum of Harvard University.

The Back Cover Blurb

What are hallucinogenic plants? How do they affect mind and body? Who uses them — and why? This unique Golden Guide surveys the role of psychoactive plants in primitive and civilized societies from early times to the present. The first nontechnical guide to both the cultural significance and physiological effects of hallucinogens, hallucinogenic plants will fascinate general readers and students of anthropology and history as well as botanists and other specialists. All of the wild and cultivated species considered are illustrated in brilliant full color.

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The Evolution of the painting ‘Chacruna Versucum (Canción de la Chacruna)’ – by Pablo Amaringo

The Evolution of the painting ‘Chacruna Versucum’ (Canción de la Chacruna) by Pablo Amaringo

Two versions of this painting are presented in the book ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo’. We originally had Chacruna Versucum professionally photographed in April 2007. The following year Pablo showed us a revised version of this work. This was an exception as he had painted over the original canvas (something that he did not usually do). Pablo commented that on reflection he regretted repainting the canvas, and this is one of the reasons we felt it important to include both versions. We talked with him to understand his thinking and development between the two paintings. Versucum is a Latin word meaning “verse,” or “canto.” (Note that both versions are dated 2003 on the paintings.)

Chacruna Versucum (2003) by Pablo AmaringoChacruna Versucum 2003 Version (Summary Narrative)

The five dryads sing gently to heal through the circle of chacruna leaves; they transmit love and healing energy. These fairies accompany the plants of the rainforest. They represent the five outer senses, and the many inner faculties which are derived from them: intelligence, consideration, knowledge, discernment, spiritual perception and wisdom. In the central circle the celestial aspects of chacruna are represented by the circle of leaves while the ayahuasca vine represents the Earth.


Chacruna Versucum 2007 Version (Summary Narrative)

Chacruna Versucum 2007 version by Pablo AmaringoThis is the second version of the painting which was painted on top of the first. In the centre Pablo added the triangle of life to represent body, soul and spirit, and the triangular geometry of the human body. The triangle has an eye on each corner to symbolise intelligence, wisdom and the merging of wisdom with ignorance. Our inner depths are reflected through our eyes. Pablo adds the golden horses around the circle to represent the energy from working with ayahuasca and also elaborates on how the yacurunas kidnap the man fishing from his canoe in the cocha.

Pablo said “After I had painted the earlier version, I realized that chacruna has many other attributes and I wanted to emphasise its celestial aspects. This is the reason why I have painted this second”

NoteAyahuasca is a sacred medicine of the indigenous people living in the Upper Amazon area of South America. Ayahuasca is a name derived from two Quechua words: aya means “spirit, ancestor, deceased person,” and huasca means “vine” or “rope.” Hence it is known as “vine of the dead” or “vine of the soul.” It is important to note that the term ayahuasca refers to both the vine itself (Banisteriopsis caapi), and the psychoactive brew made from combining the vine with at least one other ingredient, typically the leaves of the chacruna plant (Psychotria viridis). The vine is an inhibitor that contains harmala alkaloids, and the leaf contains vision-inducing alkaloids (DMT). Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) leaves are boiled with the ayahuasca vine to produce the ayahuasca brew.


This painting  is featured in the book ‘The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo‘  published by Inner Traditions 2011. Authors Howard G Charing and Peter Cloudsley.

Click to visit the website of the book for articles and interviews with Pablo Amaringo, also photo galleries and see the paintings with summary narratives.

To purchase high quality fine art reproductions and Greeting Cards of the paintings click to visit our store

25% Promotional Discount until December 31st 2012. Promotion Code: JXXUEV


The Ayahuasca Visions of Pablo Amaringo


Pablo Amaringo at Usko Ayar 2007

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