Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tripping on witches' ointment

Archaeologist James Grant in his book The Mysteries of All Nations: Rise and Progress of Superstition, Laws Against and Trials of Witches, Ancient and Modern Delusions; Together With Strange Customs, Fables, and Tales... - which is available as a free ebook from Project Gutenberg tells a brief story about the use of what was called witches' ointment:
An incredible story is told of a gentlewoman in Lyons, who possessed a pot of ointment of such rare virtue, that the application of it to one's body proved sufficient to transport the individual, in an instant, through the air to distant towns and countries. The lady being one evening in a room with her lover, anointing herself with part of the ointment, and repeating words in an under tone, was in the twinkling of an eye carried away through the air. Her companion, though astonished and somewhat[Pg 423] alarmed, did as he had observed his fair friend do, and presto he was conveyed away many miles to an assembly of witches. Afraid at what he beheld, he uttered a holy ejaculation. In an instant the assembly vanished, leaving him alone. He returned on foot to Lyons, and brought an accusation of witchcraft against his lover. The charge being proven, the woman, with her ointment, was consigned to the flames.
Grant then went on to give the ingredients typically found in such ointments: "Mountain parsley, wolves-bane, leaves of the poplar, and soot were frequently used in the preparation of witch ointment; and so were yellow water-cresses, the blood of a mouse, night-shade, oil, etc."

I am not the first to observe that night-shade can cause hallucinations or that the experiences described sound exactly like psychedelic experiences. The people at this time were unable to differentiate between what we call the real world and the world of dreams and visions. The whole history of spiritual experiences reported by people in every major and minor religion throughout history is replete with people who did not recognize this divide. To them it was all part of their reality, their universe. Today we think differently and as a result, dreams and visions no longer haunt or inspire us, but are relegated to the artificial world which is merely created by drugs and our minds.

No comments:

Post a Comment