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Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants Paperback – October 1, 2003
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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.
"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)
Top customer reviews
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. There are no sensationalist claims about 8 million Witches being murdered during the so-called Burning Times, for example. It's just lots of very straight facts, which is important. There may be a few nit-picky inaccuracies as far as mythologies, but when is there not? To be completely honest, there is a lot that is junk out there, and this book I would count among my top ten historical herbals on my personal bookshelf. This book is a very impressive body of work. Note that there are not really recipies or proportions as to using these now.
EDIT: The Print Version is Better Than the Kindle Version:
I stand by my original review of this book. It is an excellent guide into the herbs that are legendary within traditional witchcraft and shamanism. Cerrtainly, there are other books out there that will give you more how-to's than this one will as this one is a general, historical overview. As both an occultist and an herbalist, I think you can do far worse than a book like this one and Christian Rasch is probably one of the foremost authorities in the world on the topic of herbalism as it pertains to shamanic and witchcraft practices.
I have the print version of this book and naturally because I travel a great deal and I want to have it available to me in electronic form, I purchased the Kindle version. One of the nice things about the print version are the wonderful watermarks of each page based on old witchcraft woodcuts, etc. Amazon, has not yet worked out all of the kinks in the electronic version for Kindle, so it is easy to feel as if you are being deprived of the many many images that are in the print version. I also own Chrstian Rasch's book, "Psychoactive Plants" in print version, however with the Kindle version of the same book being $60, I am going to wait until the technology catches up to where what is on my screen loooks closer to what I have in print form.