Green-bearded ageing hippie launches mind-altering herbs book

by BardofEly

Herbs that intoxicate and that have mind-altering properties have always been used by people around the world. Today many are termed "entheogens" and can produce altered states.

Herbs of the Northern Shaman published by O-Books
Why has an ageing hippie got a green beard you may ask? The answer is he is promoting his book Herbs of the Northern Shaman, and because he loves plants.
59-year-old Steve Andrews aka the Bard of Ely's book Herbs of the Northern Shaman has been published by O-Books in full colour and the author can be seen pictured on the back cover along with an equally flamboyant punk-pink-haired Katrinia Rindsberg who provided all the photos for the book.
Loompanics Unlimited the former American publisher had already published this book back about mind-altering plants in 2002 but that version was in boring black and white and had less herb descriptions included. This new edition from O-Books has new material and a whole new set of stunning colour photographs of the herbs and fungi it describes.

About Herbs of the Northern Shaman

Howard Marks

Herbs of the Northern Shaman in its original edition so impressed Howard "Mr Nice" Marks that he called it "Excellent" and if it had been published in the UK at the time, it could have ended up for sale alongside the best-selling author's own works. That was an offer Howard very kindly made at the time but due to the expense of the shipping costs from the US it never happened. This time around Herbs of the Northern Shaman has worldwide distribution and is published by O-Books in Britain and America. This time around is author intends taking it to the top!

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Find out more about entheogens and psychoactive herbs
Herbs of the Northern Shaman

Herbs that can be used to affect the mental state of the consumer, as well as for their healing properties, have been a part of cultures and sub-cultures all around the world ev...

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Back cover of Herbs of the Northern Shaman

Bard of Ely and Katrinia Rindsberg
back cover

Bard of Ely as Green Beard

The green-bearded Bard
The one and only Green Bearded Bard of Ely
The one and only Green Bearded Bard o...

HTV News

The Ecologist

Steve Andrews, the Bard of Ely, has made the news before with his plant knowledge and horticultural achievements, having once been featured on the HTV Wales News for being the first person to cultivate a home-grown pineapple in Wales, as well as being in the South Wales Echo for growing kiwi fruit in his back garden. More recently he was quoted and referred to as "Weed expert" in The Ecologist.

Herbs of the Northern Shaman contains descriptions of herbs and fungi that are known to have mind-altering properties or could be potentially used in this way.

Hallucinogens, stimulants, sedatives and tranquilisers are all included. If there is some mental effect the plant can produce then it is included in the species covered but only if they can be found growing in countries within the Northern Hemisphere.


Morning Glory

As well as commonly known and used herbs and fungi such as Cannabis, Morning Glory, Magic Mushrooms and the Opium Poppy, others such as Vervain, Sweet Flag or Calamus, Valerian and even the Meadow Buttercup are included in the work.

The author describes what the plants have been traditionally used for, their history in witchcraft and ceremonial magic, what shamans of various cultures have employed the herbs and fungi for, any medicinal properties the species possess, and even what planetary rulers and associated deities they have.

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Herbs of the Northern Shaman front cover

An O-Books title by Steve Andrews
Herbs of the Northern Shaman by Steve Andrews
Herbs of the Northern Shaman by Steve...

Deadly Nightshade

Datura and Henbane

The book is intended as a reference work and for educational purposes and the author gives clear warnings against the use of some of the dangerous and poisonous herbs such as Deadly Nightshade. Datura, Henbane and Mandrake. He also points out that some of the species are illegal to possess.

Nevertheless he believes that the use of plants and fungi with mind-altering properties have been used for all recorded history and before that as well. Herbs with hallucinatory properties and that are used as entheogens and plant teachers have played an important role in religions, in cultures and in the arts. Some such as Valerian and St John's Wort have been used respectively in herbal medicine to treat anxiety and insomnia and depression.

With the colour photography supplied by co-author Katrinia Rindsberg, the book is an excellent identification guide as well as a work of interest to botanists. It should appeal to those with an affinity for alternative culture too and the author gave a talk at the Glastonbury Festival in 2004 on the Role of Shamanic Herbs in Witchcraft. Well what would you expect a green-bearded Bard to know and talk about?

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Bard of Ely describes Datura

Filmed by Madame Mazuni

Selected Herbs of the Northern Shaman reviews

Reviews of Bard of Ely's book

Bad Witch in her blog says: "Author Steve Andrews - also known as songwriter The Bard of Ely - clearly has a love of the subject of all thing relating to shamanic plants and the folklore surrounding them. Herbs of Northern Shaman delves into the history of the magical, religious and ceremonial uses for herbs and there are literary quotes from ancient texts to 20th century drug-culture best-sellers. "

Cardiff poet, author and literary critic Peter Finch said of the book: "If anyone can locate mind altering northern hemisphere plants then it's the bard of Ely (Cardiff) Steve Andrews. This easy to read, well illustrated and informative directory is about as comprehensive as you can get - how do you want your mind altered? How much do you want to pay? What risks do you run? is it illegal? Where do the plants grow? Can you nurture them yourself out the back? Steve does, shows how, explains and entertains. A must."

Author and journalist C.J. Stone wrote: "The writer is clearly an expert in several fields, being not only an informed naturalist, an inspired horticulturalist and experimenter with odd additions to his house-plant collection, but a mystic traveller too. One feels a certain confidence in his sure-footed guidance around this obscure but fascinating area of knowledge. So whether you merely wish to browse on the subject of alchemical gardening, or prefer to experiment with free and freely available mind-altering substances, this book is a must for you. Highly recommended."

And from the Midwest Book Review, Oregon, WI USA: "Herbs Of The Northern Shaman is very strongly recommended reading for students of botany and natural hallucinogens, as well as personal and academic psychoactive plants reference collections."

Where to buy Herbs of the Northern Shaman

More info about Herbs of the Northern Shaman at these websites

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By Steve Andrews
Updated: 12/31/2012, BardofEly
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BardofEly on 01/24/2013

St John's Wort is well known for treating these problems and is in my book and so are Valerian and Vervain that are good tranquilisers.

Angel on 01/23/2013

Will have to check all of this out. I am curious if there is any evidence or studies that show some of these things helping with ADHD, Bipolar (specifically in a 13 yr old), Depression, and Anxiety. You can send me a private message if you prefer to not make any specific suggestions within the public comments. :) I have bookmarked this article for looking further into it myself when time permits. So no worries if you don't have any suggestions or would prefer me to do my own research.

BardofEly on 01/23/2013

Hahaha! Yes, people have thought I have done it like that for St Patrick's Day too!

JeanBakula on 01/23/2013

Gee, I thought your beard was green because you were Irish! Kidding. Great article!

BardofEly on 01/23/2013

Deadly Nightshade has become rare I think. It probably gets destroyed if it is found and identified. I know that in the UK the authorities will destroy Thorn Apple. I remember seeing a news story years back that urged readers to report it to the police if they saw the plant. I was growing it when writing my book and bought the seeds online. When I had to move I planted it in woodland out in the country but I don't know if it survived.

humagaia on 01/23/2013

As an ageing hippy, with a beard and hair to the middle of my back (uncoloured), that forages for fungi etc for eating, I am always interested in knowing the side-effects of anything that may be edible, ever since I found that the False Saffron Milkcap's I collect from a local spruce wood turned my urine red. Lovely eating but shocking effect the first time it happens.
I don't know about you but I have seen less and less of Deadly Knightshade over the years - once it was everywhere, now I can' remember when I last found some (not for use, I might add).

BardofEly on 01/02/2013

Thank you for reading it and commenting, Rebecca!

RebeccaE on 01/01/2013

enjoyed this article a lot, my thanks to you for publishing it!

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