Relevant Reads: The Cosmic Serpent (1999)

Every Thursday, to celebrate Tarcher Perigee’s long-standing commitment to its readers, we’ll be throwing back select backlist titles personally curated by our imprint’s editors, associates and company.

1. WHO
Tarcher Perigee Editor, Andrew Yackira

The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge by Jeremy Narby


Published in 1999

“In a first-person narrative of scientific discovery that opens new perspectives on biology, anthropology, and the limits of rationalism, The Cosmic Serpent reveals how startlingly different the world around us appears when we open our minds to it.”

5. WHY
As someone with both a love of spirituality and a love of science, it’s rare to encounter literature that succeeds in blending the two. This book does just that as, in short, it is an exploration of shamanism through the lens of an anthropologist. It posits that the serpent within shamanic lore (the source of all knowledge) is the same thing as DNA (the storehouse for all that we are). Ultimately this book is a personal journey—not a scientific one—but opens the mind to the possibility that the same truth can be derived by different means.



DNA Methylation
Image Credit: Wikimedia

“The first time an Ashaninca man told me that he had learned the medicinal properties of plants by drinking a hallucinogenic brew, I thought he was joking. We were in the forest squatting next to a bush whose leaves, he claimed, could cure the bite of a deadly snake. ‘One learned these things by drinking ayahuasca,’ he said. But he was not smiling.”