On Flying Ointments

A flying ointment is a salve or oil infused with poisonous and psychoactive herbs purportedly used by witches to fly to their Sabbath rites in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Some may think flying ointments only go back as far as the Middle Ages, but if we look in mythology, ancient literature, and folktales, we find a rich source of lore that leads back to pre-Christian times . . .

Flying Ointments as Medicine

Belladonna, datura, henbane, and mandrake have a storied mythology as baneful herbs of witchcraft, poison, madness, and death thanks to the tales spun in literature by the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare to today’s fantasy fiction authors. I have found they do not deserve their tarnished reputation and instead should have a place of honour at the table of respected plant medicines . . .

Poison Path Reading List

The Poison Path involves the study of baneful herbs and their use in magic and witchcraft. In searching for a reading list of books focused on these plants, I came up empty-handed and so decided it was high time I come up with a list myself for others to use for reference. I hope within this list you find books that call to you and best suit the focus of your interests.

Poison Plants of Witchcraft

Those who are most famous for their knowledge of the Solanaceae may sound familiar: Circe, Medea, Hecate; great sorceresses and a great queen each known for their skill with poisonous plants. The Solanaceae are belladonna, datura, henbane, mandrake, and tobacco which are related to the more familiar sweet and hot peppers, potatoes, tobaccos, and tomatoes.

Ritual of the Mandrake

Enshrouded within the pages of The Argonautica is Medea’s ritual of the Mandrake. It is in fact two rituals — one of the harvest and one of the consecration of this famous magical root. Combining the ritual fragments from this epic with other knowledge of ancient Greek magic, one is able to reconstruct these rites so they may be performed today. . .

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