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The Witches’ Ointment

Book of the Week #51

Every Wednesday is BOOK-CLUB day! A day where we share with you our favourite book recommendation for the week!

This Book of the Week is:

The Witches’ Ointment

The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic

-By Thomas Hatsis

·Details how early modern theologians demonised psychedelic folk magic into “witches’ ointments” Shares dozens of psychoactive formulae 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 mediaeval witches like Matteuccia di Francisco, who used hallucinogenic drugs in her love potions and herbal preparations In the mediaeval 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, bastardised 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.” Exploring the untold history of the witches’ ointment and mediaeval hallucinogen use, Hatsis reveals how the Church transformed folk drug practices, specifically entheogenic ones, into satanic experiences.

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