View Full Version : european shamans of old....the witches
10-21-2004, 04:07 PM
greetings fellow travellers.
i am new to the site, but have been an observer......my primary focus is in medicine, both archaic and current, and of late
i have been searching for more information on the women healers of old, of folk traditions and medicinal, hallucinogenic, and trance inducing herbs, as well as a history of their use both in the united states and in europe. i have encountered an appalling lack of available resources on the subject, both on the internet and in the form of published books, however, i am sure that what i am seeking is out there and am therefore reaching out to you...
there are many "how to" books of wicca, spells, and such. i am seeking more folklore and history, more botanical names and misty, forested realms of herbal lore.... for example, often i have read tantalizing tidbits about witches "flight on broomstics" with the use of hallucinogenic plants prepared as salves and absorded through the vaginal walls, but most references are shotty, and do not go beyond anecdotal. in short, i wondered if anybody else has an interest in this area of "woman as archetypal healer" and might have a thread for me to follow into the informational maze.............
[ October 21, 2004, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: susanna ]
Well, European shamans and witches arenít necessarily the same thing. As far as European shamanism goes (aside from Druidic practice) you could do worse than looking into Romani/Gypsy history. Patrick Jasper Leeís We Borrow the Earth: An Intimate Portrait of the Gypsy Shamanic Tradition and Culture (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0722539940/qid=1098418174/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-8439232-2729743?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) is a little light-weight (and heís a man!) but it might start off a useful path to your original question.
Hereís a little interview with the author. (http://www.thorsons.com/topics/mindbodyandspirit_weborrowtheearth.htm)
s a m
10-22-2004, 01:28 AM
More interesting stuff on a little known form of european shamanism:
check out the interview with the author, he covers the female side of this practise aswell (as he can).
I enjoyed the Patrick Jasper Lee book, even if a little lightweight!
10-22-2004, 07:00 AM
Found this interesting book recently:
Dreamtime - Concerning the Boundary Between Wilderness and Civilization - Hans Peter Duerr
The text is 133 pages, the remaining 324 pages are notes and an extensive bibliography. Pretty interesting book.
Also check out Plants of the Gods - Schultes & Hofmann.
10-22-2004, 04:00 PM
thank you for those leads...anything on druidic history/herbal lore would be fascinating as well. lets say i'd like to understand more about the use of sacred plants by my celtic ancestors might have used, visionary herbs such as mugwort and ergot.......
10-22-2004, 08:12 PM
the 'encyclopedia of magical herbs' by cunningham's is a great source of both lore and information about medicinal and spiritual uses of plants and trees.
if i'm not mistaken, ergot was a fungus attacking grain, and ergot contains some strong mao-inhibitors, obviously the land was full of ecstatic people and the witch hunts started all over again...
regarding the witches 'riding' the broom stick, i learned, that an ointment containing 'belladonna' (or deadly nightshade) was used for journeying, and that the riding-the-hobby-horse thing was another myth...
10-22-2004, 10:09 PM
Here's a link to a radio interview with Beekeeper Simon Buxton: http://www.unknowncountry.com/mp_media/?cur=3
I was a bit sceptical about the existence of a secret initiatory cultus of beekeepers at first, but after hearing him talk about it I'm more convinced. Fascinating, and deeply poetic.
In terms of magical plant lore, Dale Pendell's books are hard to beat. Focusing on the "poison path" of plant shamanism, ie: plants that affect conciousness, he produces a veritable cornuco/poeia of chemistry, lore, poetry, speculation, and wicked glee.
Patrick Jasper Lee's book is cool too, yeah light weight I suppose. How lightweight is a fairy tale?
[ October 22, 2004, 11:10 PM: Message edited by: kris ifans ]
10-23-2004, 06:13 PM
10-23-2004, 06:49 PM
...speaking of lightweight-
you reminded me of a quote from
Alan Watts I remember hearing years ago..
I found a transcription of the talk,
and here's a bit of it!
r o b
"But somehow or other you see, we take religion in a kind of dead earnest. I remember when I was a boy at school, how wicked it was to laugh in church. We donít realize, as G.K. Chesterton said, that "the angels fly because they take themselves lightly." And as Dante said in the Paradiso, when he heard the song of the angels, it sounded like the laughter of the Universe. Why, what are those angels doing? Theyíre saying "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia", which doesnít really mean anything. Itís sublime nonsense. And so in the same way there are Buddhist texts and Hindu texts which are the chants of the Buddhas or the divine beings which donít mean anything at all and never did mean anything.
They are just glorious lallying: glosso lallia."
[ October 23, 2004, 07:50 PM: Message edited by: Rob P ]
Quite simple; must be a British thing. Shamanism Lite.
10-23-2004, 10:16 PM
Low fat shamanism. You don't even need a drum. Just a rocking chair...
[ October 23, 2004, 11:18 PM: Message edited by: kris ifans ]
On the psychedelic history of witchcraft and femininity, I highly recommend "Sex, Drugs & Magick" by Robert Anton Wilson. Available from Amazon...
s a m
10-24-2004, 11:14 PM
Nice quote rob!
Re: lightweight, you know - none of that heavyweight pukey potion swilling blasting to other worlds, no revelations culled from depths so unplumbed you'd think yourself blind whilst looking at 'em, no truths so heavy they'd crush the lie of your brain-squirty-skull as soon as enter it... lol.
No, pseriously, it's a good book - and pretty deep really.
Nanouk - were you at the conference in bath? There was a talk about the witches flying ointment - the man (sorry, forgotten his name, will look it up later) seemed to be leaning toward the theory that old world belladonna use was not much more than 'abuse' of a herb important to/common in many a medicine cabinet. Like an old world glue sniffing thing.
Not sure I agree, but he is very well studied compared to me.
10-25-2004, 01:32 AM
no i never wentto the conference...to be honest, i only heard of it afterwards, i was too busy stirring my elder flower cordial, probably, lol.
i learned about belladonna while scouring the local(swedish)monastery's ancient herb garden at night, when i was about 19-20. we prepared and tried a lot of the medicinal and hallucinogenic plants we found, including belladonna, and i used one of my mother's old herb books for recipes...
solanum seems to have some aphrodisiac qualities as well as hallucinogenic, and of course that would have be considered as 'abuse' or 'sinful' to use it on sensitive body parts...
it is more harmful to ingest it than using as an ointment, so where's the obvious place to apply it, for strongest possible effect?
[ October 25, 2004, 04:18 AM: Message edited by: Nanouk ]
10-29-2004, 10:16 PM
This business concercrning witchcraft I would not think they, in the know, of such earthly matters them to be just picking peas for soup. Indianspirit once forced me 'talk' 'dance'! "No" was not a option.
[ October 30, 2004, 05:18 PM: Message edited by: Halfglass ]
11-04-2004, 02:08 PM
thank you everybody for your suggestions...i am checking them out.
meanwhile, i have found a really neat book called Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants
by Claudia Muller-Ebeling.
it's a good balance of plant lore and folk lore. here's an interesting passage that suggests the shamanic component of witchcraft and brings up some interesting points:
To make the flying ointment, native plants in the nightshade family (henbane and thorn apple) were simmered in pig or goose fat. Poisonous plants, such as poison hemlock, (Conitum maculatum), monkshood (Aconitum napellus), and bearded darnell (Lolium temulentum), were added to this mixture.....Poisonous herbs like the above can sever the soul (the astral body) from the body, thus it is able to fly into the astral world behind the world of exterior appearences. There the soul not only encounters speaking animals, elementary beings, and nature spirits, but is also able to take on animal forms....If not used correctly these herbs can lead to fatal poisoning. The shamanic art is...the ability of the soul to find its way back to the body. p51
interesting to me is the point about the plants severing the soul from the body and allowing it to fly.
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