Books

Tobacco and Shamanism in South America

Johannes Wilbert

From the Publisher

An ethnography of magic-religious, medicinal and recreational tobacco use among nearly 300 native South American societies. Wilbert found that South American Indians use tobacco in many ways and that a close functional relation exists between tobacco and shamanism.

Plot55 Says

I waited a long tome to get this book from Amazon, but it was worth the wait. It is the most detailed and descriptive account of an individual psychoactive plant that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It covers the archaeological finds (maybe in a bit too much detail for the general reader). Then goes on to the historical, anthropological and ethnographic accounts in equally glorious detail. It covers every route of administering tobacco into the body that you ever thought possible, and several ingenious ways I’m sure you’d never have thought of too. It gives excellent descriptions of traditional preparation methods of snuffs, lickable tobacco, cigars and more.

This book describes the symbolic relationship tobacco has amongst many tribal groups, and explains the empirical reasoning behind the symbolism, and covers the widespread occurrence of dark or tobacco shamans throughout parts of South America.

This book really sated my appetite for good quality information, an area in which, unfortunately, the world of entheogenic research is a little lacking. It was fantastic to read and a bummer to finish.

The only thing I found a bit perplexing about this book was that even after 320 pages of meticulous attention to detail, including reams of information about dark shamans who consume huge quantities of tobacco every day to intentionally produce a death-like state of ill-health; there is never a mention of cancer. Surely somebody’s done some research on cancer amongst South American tribal peoples? Apparently not.

Highly recommended!

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