Herbs of the Southern Shaman
by Steve Andrews
Herbs of the Southern Shaman is Steve Andrew’s follow-up to Herbs of the Northern Shaman and makes an excellent companion to it. This is a well-researched overview guide to entheogenic plants which grow in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a small book, 152 pages, that contains a wealth of information about more than 50 “teacher” plants we commonly associate with altered consciousness, like peyote and ayahuasca, and those we are more likely to find in the kitchen, like nutmeg. There is a bit of overlap with the Herbs of the Northern Shaman that Andrews references, as plants like Morning Glory, Damiana and Peyote grow in both hemispheres.
Andrews provides an overview of each plant and goes into detail about the plant’s location and growing preferences, active chemical constituents, description and herbal properties. He also explores lore and preparation for ritual use. Most fascinating to me are the descriptions of the rituals themselves, like the section on the iboga initiation ceremony. The plant’s effects on consciousness are clearly described, as are its medicinal effects and the serious risks involved in taking it at higher doses in shamanic ritual.
There are black and white photographs or line drawings depicting many, but not all, of the plants included along with their botanical descriptions. There are glossaries of medical and botanical terminology. The bibliography and recommendations for further reading section has enticed me to dig deeper into Andrew’s work here. He acknowledges the contributions of Richard Evan Schultes and Albert Hoffman in Plants of the Gods to the general body of ethnobotanical research.
Andrews is quite clear that purpose of his book is educational and to provide horticultural and botanical information and does not advocate ingestion or internal use of these plants which can be highly toxic or downright lethal. He places their use for shamanic purposes within a cultural context – that of sacred, sacramental use, administered by experienced practitioners and accompanied by ritual and other rules and prescriptions, such as dietary restriction.
The book jacket states that the book is for herbalists, witches, pagans, occultists, healers, therapists, botanists and gardeners. It does indeed provide information that would interest each and every one of those categories of practitioners. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is clearly written and informative, and I am happy to add it to my herbal reference library.
About the Author:
Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanic Arts. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. Art, exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.
Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.
Open Channel Astrology www.openchannelastrology.com
Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com