January 25, 2019

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  1. Loved this article…gave me a insight into some things I wasn’t aware of. I do harvest mugwort and yarrow from a place I know for certain is free of pesticides, and no farming is done there. I’m still drying mugwort I harvested early fall last year. Yarrow same time..and soon will be stopped from the stalks and put away. I have some mugwort that I dried almost 2 years ago by hanging the stalks upside down on the blinds in my apartment. I usually dry small batches of yarrow in paper bags…works for me anyway. I have a lot to learn about herbs..working on it! And..footnote..I’m not about to try anything from a source I don’t know…

  2. Great information, Cyndi. I myself am lured by the poisoners – but I have studied under a naturopath and master herbalist who insists her students know every plant extensively, including the plants spirit. Anybody working with plants and herbs should know what a medica materia is and how to use it and how to create their own for the plants they work with. I hit the jackpot with this teacher/mentor, because she also has up to date information about small business in complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), including regulations, accurate recording of all sourced materials, listing ingredients, etc.
    The firs rule for witches is “To Know.” It especially applies if you’re going to work with the poisoners, even more so if you consider selling or sharing them.

  3. Flying ointments should be approached with an abundance of caution as should all entheogens/hallucinogenic tools. At the same time today’s Pagans too readily dismiss the power and utility of these tools and imply that they’re too dangerous for almost anyone to use. There are reputable, ethical and highly skilled makers and sellers of things like nightshade ointments, if you know where to find them. There are also excellent, highly trained traditional shamans who work with ayahuasca and peyote (to each their own, but for those I really do recommend having these professionals administer and guide your journey).

    The risks of these plants like belladonna is real, and it is not to be taken lightly. But those risks can be understood and mitigated. And at the end of the day, each of us has to do some honest analysis of benefit vs risk for what we are trying to achieve. Whether attained by the most malevolent alkaloids or the alternatives you list, shamanic/trance work is not “safe”. Not if you want to get any real work done. Real journey work is very often not gentle. You will find yourself confronting things within yourself and the spirit world that you wished you’d never encounter, and will never be able to unsee. Sometimes puking is the price of admission. Sometimes puking is the easiest part of the session.

    The journeys induced by compounds like flying ointments or powerful entheogens is not simply a deeper version of meditation. I often hear it said, with no basis in fact, that anyone can achieve a full-on hallucinogenic state with meditation. It’s simply false. Even to the extent some may have achieved it with meditation, 99.9% of people will never get there by that route. Nor are plants like mugwort equal substitutes. They are fine plants in their own right, but they are in no way interchangable.

    My advice to people is use the right tool for the job. Sometimes that requires the biggest, sharpest and most dangerous tool in the box. Most of the time it will not. Educate yourself widely and deeply. Don’t dose yourself with some recipe some random person posted in an online forum, don’t slug down a tea from plants you picked in the woods which you’re “pretty sure” of their identity. Use good sense and take care of yourselves and others in the work.

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