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Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants Paperback – October 1, 2003


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Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants + Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers + The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; 1 edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892819715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892819713
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Witchcraft medicine is more than factual knowledge of medicinal herbs, poisonous plants, psychedelic compounds.... It is the ability to converse with the animal and plant spirits and to forge friendships." So begins this manual on traditional European folk medicine, first published in German in 1998. The work of four writers including fluid translator Lee, this volume is not the pagan whirlwind concoction of recipes and how-to instructions that it might seem at first. It is instead a highly desirable reference work for people of many stripes: cultural anthropologists, gardeners, historians, ethno-botanists, mythologists and those broadly interested in Wicca. Tracing human relations with plants (and animals to a lesser degree) back to the Stone Age, the book is deeply thorough and rests on interesting scholarship. It leaves no myth unexamined. The first six chapters delve into the evolution of the witch, usually a woman, who became familiar with the wild world that lay on the far side of the hedgerow. Chapter Seven examines images of witches, especially in art history, often counterbalanced against images of Mary. The final chapter on "Forbidden Medicine" (coca, poppy, mescaline, etc.) disappoints because its overt, unbalanced polemical tone agitating for legalization veers too much from scholarship toward politics. Copious illustrations, quotations, plant lists and profiles make this work even more interesting. The critical index (not seen by PW) should cap this 90% excellent effort.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A well-researched and interesting read." (Vision Magazine, February 2004)

"Tracing human relations with plants back to the Stone Age, the book is deeply thorough and rests on interesting scholarship." (Publishers Weekly, October 2003)

"It is essential reading for anyone interested in the folklore and magical beliefs asociated with flowers, herbs and trees." (The Cauldron, February 2004)

"Witchcraft Medicine blends history with practical applications of plant healing and shamanic practices." (The Midwest Book Review, June 2004)

“Witchcraft Medicine is a work of brilliant and passionate scholarship, fabulously illustrated, that recovers the lost knowledge of the European shamanic tradition. It is both a guide and an enthusiastic ode to the visionary edge of the botanical realm.” (Daniel Pinchbeck, author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contempo)

"Witchcraft Medicine is a solid book and an essential research tool for anyone interested in European folk traditions, magic, alchemy, or herbalism." (Mark Stavish, Institute for Hermetic Studies, April 2006)

“This is a fascinating work of great importance that is incredibly well researched and documented. And brave. From the first impassioned paragraph to the last words, I was spellbound. Anyone interested in medicine, herbalism, the healing arts, and spiritual phenomena will find this book thought provoking and empowering.” (Rosemary Gladstar, president of United Plant Savers and author of Herbal Healing for Women)

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Customer Reviews

I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.
Mr. C. J. Pecats
It's just lots of very straight facts, which is important.
Christina Paul
I'd just be too afraid to trust the authors' accuracy.
Kelly (Fantasy Literature)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Christina Paul VINE VOICE on February 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I picked up this book, I thought it looked very good. I don't think however, I was quite prepared to be as impressed as I was with the work. It is not just a work about herbs and Witchcraft and their history, but a treasure trove of world cultural traditions and the folk healing modalities.

As a professional herbalist, I was really very happy to see the amount of research and documentation that went into this book. It really delves into the European shamanic traditions and healing arts and folk religions attached to them. This is something, which is sadly quite lacking in alot of literature that is about "shamanism". So much of of it is a hodge podged mess of European and Native American practices and lots of urban legend. Not so with this book. You get a clear idea where the lines of the histories of Witchcraft and folk medicine practices got blurred and blown far out of proportion by way of legend and outright lies. And you also get an in depth look at how many of these plants were used. The authors pull no punches, poisons, halucinagens and abortifacients can be found listed in this book. I think this is the first time in many years that I have seen an herbal book which dared to list them, let alone discuss them. I also learned about some plants that I had no knowledge of before and I am always up for that! This, I believe is how Witches in the past truly practiced, and how many still practice to this day throughout the world. The focus however is on European Witches and Western herbalism.

Witchcraft Medicine is clearly a scholarly work, but it it is not so much that the subject is at all dry and uninteresting to read. It was for me quite the contrary. I couldn't put it down! There is no relgious-centric slant to it at all.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Katrina Stone on March 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a one of its kind book. While "Mastering Herbalism" put forth a lot of remedies and traditional folk uses of healing herbs, this is more about the history and folk uses of halucinogenic herbs, but also covers some traditional healing herbs as well. I found this book incredibly facinating, dry in spots, but otherwise difficult to put down. I highly recommend it, as well as "Plants of the Gods" and a good Peterson's Field Guide if you are going to attempt to find any of the plants listed in this book.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J Irvin on November 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants by Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl

Christian Ratsch, PhD, the well-known ethnopharmacologist from Germany and his partner Claudia Muller-Ebeling, PhD, have come through again.
This is a fantastic book on the history, botany and prohibition of witchcraft and shamanism throughout Europe.

The book provides and excellent breakdown of both herbal and entheogenic plants used throughout Europe in medieval and ancient times. From Hawthorn to Holly, Elder to Elm, Belladonna to Mandrake, Amanita to Psilocybe, this book provides a well rounded foundation for understanding the healing plants as well as the psychotropic plants and their usage, symbology and worship and prohibition.

The first part of the book written by Wolf-Dieter Storl is good reading, however it lacks the references and solid foundation that Ratsch and Muller-Ebeling provide in their sections, providing the reader with maybe a 1/3 of the amount of reference material as the other two authors. This left me wanting more proof for some of his proposals.

Another problem with the book is that the authors should have collaborated together on the book as a whole instead of writing their own separate sections. Their own sections cause a little unnecessary repetition throughout the book and because of this, in some places, as one reviewer mentioned, information seems contradictory.
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55 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on May 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
The authors of this book purport to tell the history of herb and plant use for religious purposes throughout history. They especially focus on plants that have hallucinogenic, healing, or toxic qualities.

Only trouble is, I find it hard to trust the authors' word on how to use dangerous plants when they make errors so often in other areas. For example, they claim that Henry VIII had syphilis, passed it on to his children, and therefore none of them lived past infancy. Ummm...except for the *three* who grew up to rule England? And in a table of plants sacred to various Greek goddesses, they mention that the pomegranate is sacred to Hera, but do not connect it to Persephone at all, which seems a pretty big oversight in light of her myth.

Then, they go on to talk about witches' flying ointments and how deadly they were--but ridicule modern witches who concoct less fatal blends to help them go into trance.

There may very well be treasures in this book. I'd just be too afraid to trust the authors' accuracy.
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