The Witches' Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic

Inner Traditions / Bear & Co

An exploration of the historical origins of the “witches’ ointment” and medieval hallucinogenic drug practices based on the earliest sources

• Details how early modern theologians demonized psychedelic folk magic into “witches’ ointments”

• Shares dozens of psychoactive formulas and recipes gleaned from rare manuscripts from university collections all over the world as well as the practices and magical incantations necessary for their preparation

• Examines the practices of medieval witches like Matteuccia di Francisco, who used hallucinogenic drugs in her love potions and herbal preparations

In the medieval period preparations with hallucinogenic herbs were part of the practice of veneficium, or poison magic. This collection of magical arts used poisons, herbs, and rituals to bewitch, heal, prophesy, infect, and murder. In the form of psyche-magical ointments, poison magic could trigger powerful hallucinations and surrealistic dreams that enabled direct experience of the Divine. Smeared on the skin, these entheogenic ointments were said to enable witches to commune with various local goddesses, bastardized by the Church as trips to the Sabbat--clandestine meetings with Satan to learn magic and participate in demonic orgies.

Examining trial records and the pharmacopoeia of witches, alchemists, folk healers, and heretics of the 15th century, Thomas Hatsis details how a range of ideas from folk drugs to ecclesiastical fears over medicine women merged to form the classical “witch” stereotype and what history has called the “witches’ ointment.” He shares dozens of psychoactive formulas and recipes gleaned from rare manuscripts from university collections from all over the world as well as the practices and magical incantations necessary for their preparation. He explores the connections between witches’ ointments and spells for shape shifting, spirit travel, and bewitching magic. He examines the practices of some Renaissance magicians, who inhaled powerful drugs to communicate with spirits, and of Italian folk-witches, such as Matteuccia di Francisco, who used hallucinogenic drugs in her love potions and herbal preparations, and Finicella, who used drug ointments to imagine herself transformed into a cat.

Exploring the untold history of the witches’ ointment and medieval hallucinogen use, Hatsis reveals how the Church transformed folk drug practices, specifically entheogenic ones, into satanic experiences.
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About the author

Thomas Hatsis is a writer, educator, and historian with a master’s degree in history from Queens College. The host of the website arspsychedelia.com, he has presented his research at several U.S. universities, including Yale, and published articles in the psychedelics journal Psypress U.K. He lives in New York.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Inner Traditions / Bear & Co
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Published on
Aug 17, 2015
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781620554746
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Body, Mind & Spirit / Witchcraft
History / Medieval
Religion / Wicca
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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An exploration of the historical origins of the “witches’ ointment” and medieval hallucinogenic drug practices based on the earliest sources

• Details how early modern theologians demonized psychedelic folk magic into “witches’ ointments”

• Shares dozens of psychoactive formulas and recipes gleaned from rare manuscripts from university collections all over the world as well as the practices and magical incantations necessary for their preparation

• Examines the practices of medieval witches like Matteuccia di Francisco, who used hallucinogenic drugs in her love potions and herbal preparations

In the medieval period preparations with hallucinogenic herbs were part of the practice of veneficium, or poison magic. This collection of magical arts used poisons, herbs, and rituals to bewitch, heal, prophesy, infect, and murder. In the form of psyche-magical ointments, poison magic could trigger powerful hallucinations and surrealistic dreams that enabled direct experience of the Divine. Smeared on the skin, these entheogenic ointments were said to enable witches to commune with various local goddesses, bastardized by the Church as trips to the Sabbat--clandestine meetings with Satan to learn magic and participate in demonic orgies.

Examining trial records and the pharmacopoeia of witches, alchemists, folk healers, and heretics of the 15th century, Thomas Hatsis details how a range of ideas from folk drugs to ecclesiastical fears over medicine women merged to form the classical “witch” stereotype and what history has called the “witches’ ointment.” He shares dozens of psychoactive formulas and recipes gleaned from rare manuscripts from university collections from all over the world as well as the practices and magical incantations necessary for their preparation. He explores the connections between witches’ ointments and spells for shape shifting, spirit travel, and bewitching magic. He examines the practices of some Renaissance magicians, who inhaled powerful drugs to communicate with spirits, and of Italian folk-witches, such as Matteuccia di Francisco, who used hallucinogenic drugs in her love potions and herbal preparations, and Finicella, who used drug ointments to imagine herself transformed into a cat.

Exploring the untold history of the witches’ ointment and medieval hallucinogen use, Hatsis reveals how the Church transformed folk drug practices, specifically entheogenic ones, into satanic experiences.
A comprehensive look at the long tradition of psychedelic magic and religion in Western Civilization

• Explores the use of psychedelics and entheogens from Neolithic times through Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance to the Victorian era and beyond

• Reveals how psychedelics were integrated into pagan and Christian magical practices and demonstrates how one might employ a psychedelic agent for divination, sex magic, alchemy, communication with gods, and more

• Examines the role of entheogens in the Mysteries of Eleusis in Greece, the worship of Isis in Egypt, the Dionysian mysteries, and the magical practices of the Thessalian witches as well as Jewish, Roman, and Gnostic traditions

Unbeknownst--or unacknowledged--by many, there is a long tradition of psychedelic magic and religion in Western civilization. As Thomas Hatsis reveals, the discovery of the power of psychedelics and entheogens can be traced to the very first prehistoric expressions of human creativity, with a continuing lineage of psychedelic mystery traditions from antiquity through the Renaissance to the Victorian era and beyond.

Describing how, when, and why different peoples in the Western world utilized sacred psychedelic plants, Hatsis examines the full range of magical and spiritual practices that include the ingestion of substances to achieve altered states. He discusses how psychedelics facilitated divinatory dream states for our ancient Neolithic ancestors and helped them find shamanic portals to the spirit world. Exploring the mystery religions that adopted psychedelics into their occult rites, he examines the role of entheogens in the Mysteries of Eleusis in Greece, the worship of Isis in Egypt, and the psychedelic wines and spirits that accompanied the Dionysian mysteries. The author investigates the magical mystery traditions of the Thessalian witches as well as Jewish, Roman, and Gnostic traditions. He reveals how psychedelics were integrated into pagan and Christian magical practices and demonstrates how one might employ a psychedelic agent for divination, magic, alchemy, or god and goddess invocation. He explores the use of psychedelics by Middle Eastern and medieval magicians and looks at the magical use of cannabis and opium from the Crusaders to Aleister Crowley.

From ancient priestesses and Christian gnostics, to alchemists, wise-women, and Victorian magicians, Hatsis shows how psychedelic practices have been an integral part of the human experience since Neolithic times.
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