The Imagination of Plants

A Book of Botanical Mythology

By Matthew Hall

Subjects: Environment And Religion, Environmental Philosophy, Myth, Comparative Religion
Series: SUNY series on Religion and the Environment
Hardcover : 9781438474373, 330 pages, July 2019
Paperback : 9781438474380, 330 pages, January 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments

Introduction: A Botanical Mythology

1. Roots

2. Gods

3. Metamorphosis

4. Legend

5. Sentience

6. Violence

Epilogue: Imagination and Beyond

A Guide to the Texts
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Examines the role of plants in botanical mythology, from Aboriginal Australia to Zoroastrian Persia.

Description

Plants have a remarkable mythology dating back thousands of years. From the ancient Greeks to contemporary Indigenous cultures, human beings have told colorful and enriching stories that have presented plants as sensitive, communicative, and intelligent. This book explores the myriad of plant tales from around the world and the groundbreaking ideas that underpin them. Amid the key themes of sentience and kinship, it connects the anemone to the meaning of human life, tree hugging to the sacred basil of India, and plant intelligence with the Finnish epic The Kalevala. Bringing together commentary, original source material, and colorful illustrations, Matthew Hall challenges our perspective on these myths, the plants they feature, and the human beings that narrate them.

Matthew Hall is Associate Director of Research Services at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. He is the author of Plants as Persons: A Philosophical Botany, also published by SUNY Press.

Reviews

"…this is an impressive, thoroughly documented scholarly work that may be valuable to those involved in investigating social and cultural aspects of botany, as well as comparative religion, environmental philosophy, environmental studies, myth, and religion. " — Plant Science Bulletin

"…an excellent and interesting volume on plants in myths from around the world … the book would be of most use to those interested in mythology or more specifically the mythology of plants, but to botanists and ethnobotanists alike [it] could easily serve as enjoyable hobby reading. " — Economic Botany

"With helpful illustrations expressing wonder for the natural world, and showing appreciation for the thought and work of Val Plumwood, this book will be useful in courses that deal with the reanimation of nature. " — CHOICE

"Whether or not we believe that any plant actually has an imagination, the rhetorical flourish in Matthew Hall's title sends us into his book with a serious interest in what he has to say. This is a valuable addition to our knowledge about mythic tale-telling and awareness of those elements of the animate world that science, since the Renaissance, has always placed on the lowest scale of value. Hall wants to redress this imbalance, and he does so by revealing just how essential (to Indigenous cultures) the plant kingdom was to humanity's place in the universe. " — Ashton Nichols, author of Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural Roosting