WITCHCRAFT MEDICINE: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants

Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Author, Christian Rc$tsch, Author, PH. D. Storl, Author
Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Author, Christian Rc$tsch, Author, PH. D. Storl, Author . Translated by Annabel Lee. Inner Traditions $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-89281-971-3
Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
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"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. (Dec.)

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