Title: Psychedelics Encyclopedia, 3rd Ed.
Author: Peter Stafford
Source: Review by JF
The Psychedelics Encyclopedia, by Peter Stafford is an excellent general reference work on the subject. I recommend it strongly as a first purchase for anyone interested in visionary drugs; it should be part of every entheogenic library.
Stafford divides his book into sections by drug class (see below), and takes the reader through all "the usual suspects," as well as some lesser-known entheogens. His style is accessible and extremely informative, and he provides even (and evenhanded) coverage of the botany, chemistry, history, and preparation and use of each class of drugs. He cites liberally from applicable primary sources, but ties everything together into an effective narrative. I find his lucid accounts of the modern history of entheogens, with his emphasis on first-person narratives, to be particularly interesting. The text is interspersed with many wonderful pictures. What emerges is not just a compendium of information but a complete and fascinating picture of how the world has used and reacted to entheogens throughout history, especially the shifting attitudes of Western culture in this century.
The principal weakness of Stafford's otherwise excellent book is that is in need of a comprehensive revision. For the present, third edition, Stafford precedes the encyclopedia proper with an update, covering subjects that became of interest relatively recently, principally MDMA, but including also more detailed coverage of ketamine. This prefatory material needs to be incorporated into the rest of the text, which should be updated where appropriate to encompass current entheogenic research. The text would also benefit from an expansion of the "Contrasting profiles" chapter, as each section could support an independent chapter, particular the one devoted to dissociative anesthetics.
Nevertheless, these are, on the whole, minor criticisms of an otherwise excellent reference work. I am looking forward to a fourth edition.
- The LSD Family
- Peyote, Mescaline, San Pedro
- Marijuana and Hashish
- Psilocybian Mushrooms
- Nutmeg and MDA
- DMT, DET, DPT, and other Short-acting Tryptamines
- Ayahuasca, Yage, and Harmaline
- Iboga and Ibogaine
- Fly Agaric, Panther Caps, and "Soma"
- "Contrasting Profiles" (Tropanes, Yohimbe, Kava-Kava, Ketamine, Nitrous Oxide)
420 pages (text proper) + 91 pages (third edition update)