The Psychoactive Zodiac (b)
"In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. " - Revelations 22:2
"Just as the twelve signs of the Zodiac - the Belt of Ishtar - are an arbitrary classification of the millions of stars in the galaxy into prominent configurations, so the diverse floral stars of the evolutionary process - the many psychoactive, medicinal and food plants are beyond number. Nevertheless, in human history there are a small number of constellations of sacred plants which, because of their great cultural significance, deserve to be treated as the fabled twelve-fold fruit of the Tree of Life. Each constellation represents a collection of species sharing a particular molecular arrangement which is psychoactive in the human brain, and which also has a significant cultural history of religious use to induce visionary, mystical or shamanic trance states."
That work gives cantidates for such psychoactives, representatives of families of biological species from which all drugs are derived. However it stops short of assigning specific constellations and zodiacal symbols with these plants. That is the purpose of this website, to make such assignments. At this stage the assignments are not set in stone, rather discussion is encouraged to enable a more robust system. We will suggest some criteria for the decision:
1) Assignments based on more ancient characterizations of zodiacal constellations and plants/psychoactives are given preference over modern characterizations.
2) Plants/psychoactives will be chosen to eliminate crossover between symbols of the zodiac, so that two very similar plants should not be under the same symbol.
3) While only a single plant will officially designate a constellation, it is understood that such plant is a representative of a family. Other members of this family can influence the assignment as well.
Assignments as of Feb. 25, 2004:
Aquarius, the Water Carrier. This constellation is associated with water and rivers, even around the Ganges, where sativas were grown, and which now gives cannabis the name "ganja".
Sagittarius, the Archer. This constellation has been associated with the speed of an arrow, or the swiftness of Mercury.
Virgo, the Virgin. Virgo is associated with a "harvest maiden", and often with the color white. This is perhaps the easiest assignment, as the Coca plant has had the same association (long before the discovery of white cocaine).
Scorpio, the Scorpion. This constellation has been called the "giant slayer", and the snake. The broad family of psychoactives including Nightshade and Henbane has been called the "devil's witching weeds", credited with use by witches, and have been used as poisons.
Gemini, the Twins. This association is perhaps a weak link. Do these many mushrooms deserve a separate zodical sign from the Amanitas? There is also some crossover with Taurus as DMT analogs are created in psilocin digestion. It is not clear whether the twins represent two mushrooms, man and mushroom together, or another combination...
dmt and analogs)
Taurus, the Bull. This constellation was also known as the bull or ox by natives of the Amazon river basin, near where components of this family grow. The bull is perhaps the strongest of the zodiacal animals, similar to the compounds in this family.
Leo, the Lion. Leo is associated with the sun, and light. Ergotamines are supposedly responsible for "St. Anthony's Fire".
Capricorn, the Goat. This symbol has been associated with fermentaion, although the alchemical associations with processes are fairly recent...
Libra, the Scales. This is the "newest" sign of the zodiac, added by the romans, which previously had been the "claws of the scorpion". Because tobacco is related to the nightshade this fits with the current assignment of scorpio.
Pisces, the Fishes. Cactus barbs were used as fish hooks, likely as long ago as when the cactus were first used for pschoactive uses.
Cancer, the Crab. Yes, there is a temptation to associate this sign with Nicotiana. However, that is based on a new meaning. 'The crab' has been called a "gate of men" through which souls descended from heaven. This symbol itself has been associated with opitates as well.
Amanita Muscaria var. Muscaria
(Amanita Muscaria var. Formosa,
Aries, the Ram. This constellation has been associated with the colors white and red. Also with Kings, Zeus or Jupter. This mushroom has been used since perhaps 5000 BC. Although it is may not be a "king" of psychoactive plants, it is a potent symbol, appearing in the adventures of Alice in Wonderland and elsewhere.
Explanations (updated 2/25/2004)