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The Witch's Garden Paperback – 1978

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Language Notes

Text: English, Danish (translation)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Unity Press; First American Edition edition (1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913300470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913300473
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,369,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By on November 12, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book outlines the plants which witches in Europe during the Middle Ages used in their flying ointments. The assumption is, that the main interest of witches in plants was their use in the flying ointment. There are six plants discussed, four from the nightshade (potato) family, and two others, which were known as deadly poisons. One of the author's intriguing ideas is that the Witch's Garden would not be an orderly arrangement of plants in one location, but instead would be disguised as a number of ostensibly wild plants growing in a number of areas. Compare this book with the essay by Michael Harner "Hallucinogens in European Witchcraft", in his book "Hallucinogens and Shamanism". There, Harner discounts the use of any other plants in the ointment besides the four from the nightshade family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Rubin on April 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book referenced in the article "If Witches No Longer Fly: Todays Pagans and the Solanaceous Plants" by Chas Clifton. Hansen documents the history from Roman times to the 20th century of a select number of herbs associated with the flying ointment used topically in traditional witchcraft to (as I see it) initiate out-of-body experiences. He concludes with a discussion and list of ingredients commonly found in surviving records of the recipe for the ointment. He does not touch on the preparation or the quantities of the ingredients. There is an appendix entitled "The Witches' Brew in Macbeth" which talks about Shakespeare's knowledge of these plants and others. Awesome. The book is peppered with interesting illustrations from the early modern period, along with tangential literary and linguistic information (did you know that the Italian word for witch strega comes from the latin word for owl strix, apparenly because of the historical association of witches and shapeshifting?) This is not another fairy tale spell book; this is the work of a scholar and botanist. His illustrations are all documented, and his bibliography is so unusual (and mostly in other languages) you feel like you've been transported into a medieval alchemists workshop. This is a short book at 120 pages. He himself laments that he couldn't tackle other plants and related concoctions. I wish he had. It is dripping with information and intrigue.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Witch's Garden is a brief book by Harold A Hansen from 1976, originally in Danish (Heksens Urtegard), about a few of the most famous plants used in flying ointment; mandrake, henbane, deadly nightshade, thornapple, hemlock, and monkshood. Each section offers the scientific name of each plant (so it's not quite so vague as other mentions of 'the nightshades'), magical, cultural, and medicinal lore of each plant, its appearance and poisonous effects, as well as etymological backgrounds to the names as well as alternate names, where applicable.

It is a delightful read as a quick opening guide to each plant, as it is well written (and well translated) with charm. The penultimate chapter takes a look at the known recipes of flying ointment and list the ingredients with tallies of how often they appear, and the final chapter discusses the witch's brew of Macbeth and both the definite and plausible ingredients mentioned.

Being that it studies flying ointment in relation to the witch's sabbat, it is written in the mindset that witches and witchcraft, as invented by the church in the middle ages, was a viable and actual institution. (That is to say, that those accused of witches were indeed men and women who had made knowing pacts with the Devil in exchange for powers, had profaned the eucharist, and copulated with Satan, etc etc, as opposed to the reality of witches being simply homeopathic doctors accused in the fever of, well, a witch-hunt.) This does not detract from the work, as the focus is on the plants and not the history or nature of witchcraft.

It is illustrated with woodcuts throughout and contains a good sized bibliography for further reading.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jessie on September 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book realy dosnt tell you anything. it's just a random collection of myths and stories about different poisonus herbs. i love how the author emphisizes that these herbs can be used medicinally but in now way tells you how. if your looking for a book that tells you how to use nightshade or hemlock appropriately, keep looking.
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