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The Witches' Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic Paperback – Aug 31 2015

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Park Street Press (Aug. 31 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1620554739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1620554739
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #93,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


The Witches’ Ointment is, remarkably, the first full-length treatment of a topic that is central to our understanding of European witchcraft. Did the witches use psychoactive substances or not? This has long been debated but often on the basis of prejudice or inadequate information. We are fortunate that Hatsis has written an authoritative account, drawing deeply on primary sources and pursuing original lines of thought. Entertaining and highly readable, this book seems destined to be the definitive work on the subject. No doubt it will inspire others to see the witch cult in a new light. Highly recommended to all those who are interested in witchcraft, the history of drugs, and the more unusual byways of culture. A fascinating book.” (Richard Rudgley, author of The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances)

“Hatsis’s treatment of this woefully neglected area in the body of drug history scholarship is sublimely applied and will no doubt become an important fixture in the canon of pharmacography. Superb!” (Robert Dickins, publisher and editor of Psychedelic Press UK)

“Tales of witches and toads, broomsticks and belladonna--documented herein are the exotic herbal potions and demonic flights of fancy that terrified and confounded the religious authorities of the Middle Ages. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, Hatsis clears the supernatural mists of yore and roots out the various psychoactive agents lying at the heart of European witchcraft. A remarkably informative and wholly compelling read!” (Simon G. Powell, author of Magic Mushroom Explorer and The Psilocybin Solution)

“In this remarkable book, Thomas Hatsis reveals the hidden truth behind history’s most legendary ointments--the medieval bewitching potions--that supposedly lubricated broomsticks and fueled extracorporeal mystical journeys and hallucinogenic night flights, setting the stage for strange entity encounters and unholy copulations, animal transformations, and miraculous healings as well as diabolical poisonings, dangerous delusional deceptions, and harmful “black magic.” In this impeccably researched and compulsively readable volume, Hatsis recovers the lost history of these magical medicinal brews and psychoactive formulas that have been hidden for centuries and hinted at in the mythic portrayal of witchcraft and sorcery. Hatsis’s scholarly research shines an illuminating spotlight on what is actually known about these visionary (and sometimes deadly) herbal mixes, and he expertly blends his meticulous studies with keen intuition in this uniquely envisioned volume, overflowing with rare historical treasures and fascinating speculations as well as the secret psychedelic ingredients for re-creating the legendary ointments. This book will appeal to anyone interested in herbal folk remedies, entheogenic medicine, the relationship between alchemy and science, and how heretical notions of healing influenced Western religious systems and modern medicine. A few words of caution: history compels you to use this book wisely or you may get burned at the stake!” (David Jay Brown, author of The New Science of Psychedelics and Frontiers of Psychedelic Consciousnes)

“This wonderful book brews up a heady potion of folk herbs and psychedelics to intoxicate the conspiracy theorists and passionate disbelievers alike. With his objectivity and beautiful writing, Hatsis shines a light on the destructive Christocentric misogyny of the medieval world, whose holistic pagan medicine was certainly no more diabolical than our own modern Pharma Industry.” (Ben Sessa, MBBS, MRCPsych, author of The Psychedelic Renaissance)

“A Historian of witchcraft, magic, Western religion, contemporary psychedelia, entheogens and medieval pharmacopeia, Thomas Hatis is well qualified to describe dozens of psychoactive formulas and recipes gleaned from rare manuscripts from all over the world as well as the practices and magical incantations necessary for their preparation. He also examines the various forms of sorcery such as poison magic and ecstatic trance, and explores the connections between the ointments and spells for shape shifting, spirit travel and bewitching magic. ” (New Dawn, Robert Black, December 2015)

This book is fascinating and reads like a well-written novel. But it is not a novel; it is a meticulously researched history, based on primary sources that were not easy to find. It is the beautiful fruit of a long, arduous scientific investigation that is presented in a light, easily readable style. (Giovanna Serenelli, Journal of Folklore Research)

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, 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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