Their Ingredients and Their Use
Below are three examples of the use of Flying Ointments from classical sources followed by a modern day version in the Addendum. Flying Ointment is typically an oily or greasy concoction of herbs and other materials combined together and said, when rubbed all over one's body, to contribute toward one's ability to fly. Early recipes always included some ingredients that were either socially unacceptable, "off limits," difficult to obtain, or were obscure or unclear in what was actually intended. Modern recipes use a variety of substitute materials, hence rendering the ointment ineffective for all practical purposes. In both cases, however, some ingredients remain downright toxic, poisonous and lethal, especially if consumed in quanities unmetered by someone not versed in their safe administration.
You will notice the account of Lucius Apuleius, written in 160 AD and BEFORE the rise of religious strengths of the Middle Ages, that it is fairly straightforward in what transpired in the use of an ointment. The others are somewhat more vague. Somewhere over the centuries as the early European tribes disintegrated, assimilated, or were destroyed, a slow but meticulous coverup and transformation occurred to the beliefs and traditions of Shamanism and practice of tribal magic and socerey into that of a more sinster era of witchcraft. What is most important to realize is that during the Middle Ages the use of certain specific herbs and their power that originally came down from Shamanism is significantly downplayed, and the outcome and power of occult abilities is attributed more and more to evil sources in the form of Lucifer, the Devil, or Satan. You should also notice if you research Flying Ointments that a lot of the ingredients vary between recipes and many of the ingredients seem to be inert or no more than simply filler. However, whether in ointments, chewed, ingested, or used in a broth, brew, or potion certain key elements remain down through the ages, that being tropane-containing plants such as Sacred Datura and various Nightshade and genus Solanum for example. It is cited as a main ingredient right up to today's use by present day men of spells called an Obeah, to others of similar ilk such as a Diablero (a sorcerer said to have evil powers, usually with the ability to shapeshift) and/or more specifically the Diablero female counterpart as found in the sorceress 'la Catalina'. The tropane-like plant extract or derivative found in Sacred Datura is suspected to have been used in the mysterious and possible "flying potion" employed by the Native American tribal spiritual elder in the incident described in The Sun Dagger and explored more thoroughly in Apportation Revisited. Sacred Datura is also cited in both of Carlos Castaneda's first two books for the same or similar reasons. Sacred Datura or other closely related tropane-like plant extract or derivatives may also have been used in 'la Catalina's' infamous morphing into a marauding amorphous blackbird or her reported ability to become a sailing silhouette.
Lucius Apuleius. From Golden Ass, Book III, Chapter Sixteen (160 AD):
"On a day Fotis came running to me in great fear, and said that her mistress, to work her sorceries on such as she loved, intended the night following to transform herself into a bird, and to fly whither she pleased. Wherefore she willed me privily to prepare myself to see the same. And when midnight came she led me softly into a high chamber, and bid me look through the chink of a door: where first I saw how she put off all her garments, and took out of a certain coffer sundry kinds of boxes, of the which she opened one, and tempered the ointment therein with her fingers, and then rubbed her body therewith from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, and when she had spoken privily with her self, having the candle in her hand, she shaked parts of her body, and behold, I perceived a plume of feathers did burgen out, her nose waxed crooked and hard, her nails turned into claws, and so she became an owl. Then she cried and screeched like a bird of that kind, and willing to prove her force, moved her self from the ground by little and little, til at last she flew quite away."
Abramelin The Mage. From The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin The Mage (1458 AD)
The First Book of Holy Magic, Chapter VI:
"She then gave unto me an unguent..." (Flying Ointment)
"At Lintz I worked with a young woman, who one evening invited me to go with her, assuring me that without any risk she would conduct me to a place where I greatly desired to find myself. I allowed myself to be persuaded by her promises. She then gave unto me an unguent, with which I rubbed the principal pulses of my feet and hands; the which she did also; and at first it appeared to me that I was flying in the air in the place which I wished, and which I had in no way mentioned to her.
I pass over in silence and out of respect, that which I saw, which was admirable, and appearing to myself to have remained there a long while, I felt as if I were just awakening from a profound sleep, and I had great pain in my head and deep melancholy. I turned round and saw that she was seated at my side. She began to recount to me what she had seen, but that which I had seen was entirely different. I was, however, much astonished, because it appeared to me as if I had been really and corporeally in the place, and there in reality to have seen that which had happened."
Giovan Battista Della Porta. From De Miraculis Rerum Naturalium, Book II, Chapter XXVI (1558 AD)
Lamiarum Unguenta (Witches Unguent):
"Although they mix in a great deal of superstition, it is apparent nonetheless to the observer that these things can result from a natural force. I shall repeat what I have been told by them. By boiling (a certain fat) in a copper vessel, they get rid of its water, thickening what is left after boiling and remains last. Then they store it, and afterwards boil it again before use: with this, they mix celery, aconite, poplar leaves and soot. Or, in alternative: sium, acorus, cinquefoil, the blood of a bat, nightshade (Solanum) and oil; and if they mix in other substances they donít differ from these very much. Then they smear all the parts of the body, first rubbing them to make them ruddy and warm and to rarify whatever had been condensed because of cold. When the flesh is relaxed and the pores opened up, they add the fat (or the oil that is substituted for it) - so that the power of the juices can penetrate further and become stronger and more active, no doubt. And so they think that they are borne through the air on a moonlit night to banquets, music, dances and the embrace of handsome young men of their choice."
NOTE: Again, just as a reminder, according to many scholars, the use of mind-altering plants in witches' flights, such as certain species of the genus Solanum, etc., was underemphasized or even suppressed during the rise of religious strengths during the Middle Ages because plants, rather than the Devil, would thus have wielded the power. Their brews or ointments, with their transformative plant alkaloids, were indeed capable of inducing at the very minimum, visionary flights through the vast and uncharted night skies.
ADDENDUM: Flying Ointment and Ingredients Thereof:
Recently a no small amount of flack has been directed toward me regarding what has been suggested as a glossing over of facts pertaining to ingredients oft cited in flying ointemnts. Namely the the criticism revolves around the perceived playing down or lack of my emphasis regarding the use of the "fat of an unbaptized baby or child" (listed above as a certain fat) as a primary constituent in the ointment, a point that may need some clarification.
The plain truth is I have no personal experience using flying ointments. My experience circles around the use of a "warm tea-like broth" as outlined in the Wanderling's Journey and in the fashion given me left unsaid in the Sun Dagger. The first, under the auspices of a man of spells called an Obeah; the second, a Native American tribal elder. Both situations lean more closely toward Shamans and Shamanism and perhaps tribal sorcery or magic than the media accepted view of European style witchcraft. In neither occasion was any sort externally applied body grease or oil based ointment of any kind involved. My interest is in how the use of tropane-containing plants seems to run through ALL potions and ointments alike when "flight" is involved (Sacred Datura, Nightshade, Solanum, etc.).
Tropane-containing plant and herb-derived ingredients show up from the dawn of time in India, Europe, and the indigenous populations of the Americas as well as elsewhere. The "fat of an unbaptized baby" only starts showing up as an ingredient in Europe with the rise of the Middle Age religious persecutions. Those being persecuted did not have access to publishing or pushing the ingredients off on an unknowing populace...those in power did. How could those in power accomplish their end other than convincing those who they were trying to subjugate that those using occult powers were in league with the Devil --- or that those so accused might snatch and kill your baby or child so they could use the fat?
It should be noted the equivalent of baptized or unbaptized does not show up in the original Latin text. "Puerorum pinguedinem" meaning boy, young man, or child, joined with the word for fat does. In Appendix V of Margaret Alice Murray's rather extensive book on witchcraft The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921), A. J. Clark has analyzed three recipes used for making flying ointment and, quoting Pennethorne Hughes researching Clark's works in Witchcraft (Penguin Books, 1952), Hughes comes to the following conclusion:
Discounting the bat's blood and the baby's fat as picturesque accessories, oleaginous if otherwise ineffectual, he(A J Clark) finds that the remaining ingredients do carry important qualities.
Carlos Castaneda writes about his experience using the Datura plant in both his first and second books, the same plant suspected as employed by the Native American tribal spiritual elder with the Wanderling in the incident described in The Sun Dagger. Castaneda is not said to have drank the root extract in a "warm tea-like broth" as in the Wanderling's case, but instead, rubbed himself with paste, a paste or ointment we can pretty much be assured did not have the fat of a baby as an ingredient, baptized or not. Even so, the ointment DID contain fat, or lard, as the case may be. Castaneda, quoting here his Yaqui Indian sorcerer, Don Juan Matus writes:
"My benefactor (i.e., Don Juan's teacher) told me it was permissible to mix the plant with lard. And that is what you are going to do. My benefactor mixed it with lard for me, but, as I have already said, I never was very fond of the plant and never really tried to become one with her. My benefactor told me that for best results, for those who really want to master the power, the proper thing is to mix the plant with the lard of a wild boar."
What followed was in his words "an extraordinary experience." Later, on Friday July 5, 1963, as the afternoon wore on, he and Don Juan Matus discuss the experience and lessons learned. In conversation Castaneda says there was a question he wanted to ask all day and finally, before the evening wore out, he asked, as found in his first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way Of Knowledge (1968) Chapter Six:
"There was a question I wanted to ask him. I knew he was going to evade it, so I waited for him to mention the subject. I waited all day. Finally, before I left that evening, I had to ask him, "Did I really fly?," don Juan?" (see)
"That is what you told me. Didn't you?"
"I know, don Juan. I mean, did my body fly? Did I take off like a bird?"
"You always ask me questions I cannot answer. You flew. That is what the second portion of the devil's weed is for. As you take more of it, you will learn how to fly perfectly. It is not a simple matter. A man flies with the help of the second portion of the devil's weed. That is all I can tell you. What you want to know makes no sense. Birds fly like birds and a man who has taken the devil's weed flies as such [el enyerbado vuela asi]."
"As birds do? [Asi como los pajaros?]."
"No, he flies as a man who has taken the weed [No, asi como los enyerbados]."
"Then I didn't really fly, don Juan. I flew in my imagination, in my mind alone. Where was my body?"
"In the bushes," he replied cuttingly, but immediately broke into laughter again. "The trouble with you is that you understand things in only one way. You don't think a man flies; and yet a brujo can move a thousand miles in one second to see what is going on. He can deliver a blow to his enemies long distances away. So, does he or doesn't he fly?"
"You see, don Juan, you and I are differently oriented. Suppose, for the sake of argument, one of my fellow students had been here with me when I took the devil's weed. Would he have been able to see me flying?"
"There you go again with your questions about 'What would happen if...?' It is useless to talk that way. If your friend, or anybody else, takes the second portion of the weed all he can do is fly. Now, if he had simply watched you, he might have seen you flying, or he might not. That depends on the man."
"But what I mean, don Juan, is that if you and I look at a bird and see it fly, we agree that it is flying. But if two of my friends had seen me flying as I did last night, would they have agreed that I was flying?"
Paste, root extract, or otherwise, interestingly enough Castaneda had written, again in his first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN --- from information gathered in the field from Don Juan Matus in 1961 --- and covered more thoroughly in The Ally In Shamanism, the following:
The idea that a man of knowledge has an ally is the most important of theSeven Component Themes, for it is the only one that is indispensable to explaining what a man of knowledge is. In my classificatory scheme a man of knowledge has an ally, whereas the average man does not, and having an ally is what makes him different from ordinary men.
An ally isA POWER capable of transporting a man beyond the boundaries of himself; that is to say, an ally is a power which allows one to transcend the realm of ordinary reality. Consequently, TO HAVE AN ALLY IMPLIES HAVING POWER; and the fact that a man of knowledge has an ally is by itself proof that the operational goal of the teaching is being fulfilled.
In reality, the "full use of power can only be acquired with the help of an 'ally'," that Castaneda speaks of, like the use of medicinal plants, drugs, or herbs (Aushadhis) --- which he used intially, but denied the necessary use of later --- is a second level of use between the Shaman and the actual power source, the same source the "ally" would draw upon for power.
In the world of spells and the world at large the use of herbs in tea, broth, or flying ointments is really not much more than a step to initiate the actual outcome. Even though the results can be the same, in Hinduism, Buddhism and Zen there are supernormal perceptual states called Siddhis that for the most part do not incorporate, require, or use any sort of plant, potion, ointment, or drink such as implemented under the auspices of the Obeah or the tribal elder. However, if such outside ingested ingredients are used to actually accomplish results or simply used as a placebo to placate the recipient is not always clear. A lawyer that shows up in court in an expensive three piece suit will probably garner more success than if he shows up in a wrinkled tee shirt, shorts, and flip-flop shower shoes. Perhaps an Obeah or tribal elder might incorporate some sort of ritual or substance to convince a non-initiate to such a level that the expected result would transpire --- OR perhaps even, and possibly in a combination of both, some part of the substance's ingredients could be such that it would replicate, trigger or mimic an untrained, albeit short term, shortcut path to the same mind-strength ability of a person versed in Siddhis. As stated in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Chapter IV, verse 1:
Verse 1: janma-osadhi-mantra-tapah-samadhi-jah siddayahsamadhi.
"The power of Siddhis can come because of previous Karma and genetics (janma), from herbs (Aushadhis), the use of Mantras, the kindling of the psychic fire (tapas), and/or from Samadhi."
The key word for our discussion here of course is HERBS..."The power of Siddhis CAN come from herbs..." that is, Aushadhis in Sanskrit (aushadhi Sk = medicine, herb, plant which has a quality of appeasement, relief from disease), but the effects will be of limited duration.
Let Me Travel Through the Air Like a Winged Bird
THE VULTURE AS TOTEM
ZEN, THE BUDDHA AND SHAMANISM
THE WORD OBEAH: WHAT DOES IT MEAN, HOW DOES IT WORK?
CARLOS CASTANEDA'S JOURNEY:
According to Castandea, in his first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968), on Thursday, July 3, 1963, he and Don Juan Matus, starting out with Sacred Datura, set about making what could be called none other than a "flying ointment", the use of which ended in Castaneda's infamous metamorphosis into a crow --- including the full ability of flight. One of the key ingredients in that ointment was lard, more specifically the lard of a wild boar. Below is how Castaneda presents it from the words of Don Juan:
"My benefactor(Don Juan's benefactor being HIS teacher, said to be one Julian Osorio) told me it was permissible to mix the plant with lard. And that is what you are going to do. My benefactor mixed it with lard for me, but, as I have already said, I never was very fond of the plant and never really tried to become one with her. My benefactor told me that for best results, for those who really want to master the power, the proper thing is to mix the plant with the lard of a wild boar. The fat of the intestines is the best. But it is for you to choose. Perhaps the turn of the wheel will decide that you take the devil's weed as an ally, in which case I will advise you, as my benefactor advised me, to hunt a wild boar and get the fat from the intestines [sebo de tripa]. In other times, when the devil's weed was tops, brujos used to go on special hunting trips to get fat from wild boars. They sought the biggest and strongest males. They had a special magic for wild boars; they took from them a special power, so special that it was hard to believe, even in those days. But that power is lost. I don't know anything about it. And I don't know any man who knows about it. Perhaps the weed herself will teach you all that."
Don Juan measured a handful of lard, dumped it into the bowl containing the dry gruel, and scraped the lard left on his hand onto the edge of the pot. He told me to stir the contents until they were smooth and thoroughly mixed.
I whipped the mixture for nearly three hours. Don Juan looked at it from time to time and thought it was not done yet. Finally be seemed satisfied. The air whipped into the paste had given it a light- gray color and the consistency of jelly. He hung the bowl from the roof next to the other bowl. He said he was going to leave it there until the next day because it would take two days to prepare this second portion. He told me not to eat anything in the meantime. I could have water, but no food at all.
On July 4th Don Juan gives him directions on the use of the ointment:
He took his bone stick and cut two horizontal lines on the surface of the paste, thus dividing the contents of the bowl into three equal parts. Then, starting at the center of the top line, he cut a vertical line perpendicular to the other two, dividing the paste into five parts. He pointed to the bottom right area, and said that was for my left foot. The area above it was for my left leg. The top and largest part was for my genitals. The next one below, on the left side, was for my right leg, and the area at the bottom left was for my right foot. He told me to apply the part of the paste designated for my left foot to the sole of my foot and rub it thoroughly. Then he guided me in applying the paste on the inside part of my whole left leg, on my genitals, down the inside of my whole right leg, and finally on the sole of my right foot.
Then the transformation began, followed by Castaneda's experience of flight:
My legs were rubbery and long, extremely long. I took another step. My knee joints felt springy, like a vault pole; they shook and vibrated and contracted elastically. I moved forward. The motion of my body was slow and shaky; it was more like a tremor forward and up. I looked down and saw don Juan sitting below me, way below me. The momentum carried me forward one more step, which was even more elastic and longer than the preceding one. And from there I soared. I remember coming down once; then I pushed up with both feet, sprang backward, and glided on my back. I saw the dark sky above me, and the clouds going by me. I jerked my body so I could look down. I saw the dark mass of the mountains. My speed was extraordinary. My arms were fixed, folded against my sides. My head was the directional unit. If I kept it bent backward I made vertical circles. I changed directions by turning my head to the side. I enjoyed such freedom and swiftness as I had never known before. The marvelous darkness gave me a feeling of sadness, of longing, perhaps. It was as if I had found a place where I belonged -- the darkness of the night. I tried to look around, but all I sensed was that the night was serene, and yet it held so much power.
Suddenly I knew it was time to come down; it was as if I had been given an order I had to obey. And I began descending like a feather with lateral motions. That type of movement made me very ill. It was slow and jerky, as though 1 were being lowered by pulleys. I got sick. My head was bursting with the most excruciating pain. A kind of blackness enveloped me. I was very aware of the feeling of being suspended in it.
The next thing I remember is the feeling of waking up. I was in my bed in my own room. I sat up. And the image of my room dissolved. 1 stood up. I was naked! The motion of standing made me sick again. I recognized some of the landmarks. I was about half a mile from don Juan's house, near the place of his Datura plants. Suddenly everything fitted into place, and I realized that I would have to walk all the way back to his house, naked.
Compare the above experience of Castaneda's with that of the Wanderling's Journey.
AND NOW THIS:
ABOUT THE WANDERLING AS THE AUTHOR OF THIS SITE:
Over and over people ask why is it that they should accept what I have written about either Castaneda or flying ointments and/or Castaneda AND flying ointments as having any amount of credibility?
For one thing I personally knew, met and interacted with Castaneda many times --- however, it was done-so long before Castaneda became Castaneda. Matter of fact, he was still a nobody student trying hard to obtain an AA degree from Los Angeles City College, working at Mattel Toy Company. During that period he considered himself mostly as an aspiring artist rather than anything that remotely resembled an author or shaman. Secondly, and unrelated to Castaneda and I knowing each other, my uncle was the Informant that is so widely mentioned in Castaneda's works both by him and others that introduced him to the rituals and rites of the use of the plant Sacred Datura. If you remember from Castaneda's works, it was Sacred Datura and NOT Peyote that first sent him into his initial experiences of altered states. Third, in an attempt on my part to confirm, clear up, or have any number of things that have shown up or been said about Castaneda and his life that should be discounted, things that have taken on a life of their own as fact because they have been repeated over and over so often, I personally interviewed, talked to, or conversed with a number of individuals that were prominent in his life --- especially so in areas that raise conflict when people read one thing about him and I write another.
Originally, when I first started writing about Castaneda it was for one reason only. It had to do with help substantiating an incident in my life that revolved around what are known in Buddhism and Hindu spiritual circles under the ancient Sanskrit word Siddhis. Siddhis are supernormal perceptual states that once fully ingrained at a deep spiritual level can be utilized by a practitioner to initiate or inhibit incidents that are beyond the realm of typical everyday manifestation.
In that the incident that occurred in my life, although bordering on the edges of what is generally conceived in the west as Shamanism or possibly the occult, was actually deeply immersed on the eastern spiritual side of things.(see) To bridge the understanding between the eastern and western concepts I brought in for those who may have been so interested the legacy of one of the most well read practitioner of such crafts in the western world, Carlos Castaneda. Although highly controversial and most certainly not the fully unmitigated expert in the field, he is widely read and a known figure when mentioned, by camps both pro and con. So said, Castaneda has the highest profile in of all individuals to have claimed the ability through shamanistic rituals the ability to fly --- thus, for reasons as they related to me I used Castaneda in my works as an example. In doing so it opened a virtual Pandora's Box of never ending controversy, causing me to either ignore or substantiate what I presented. Hence, as questions were raised by me in my own writing or raised by those who read my material more pages were created to explain who, what, when, where, and why.
The following people were all major movers in the life of Carlos Castaneda, and at one time or the other I met and talked with them all, which is more than most people who write about Castaneda has ever done. And I only did so on and off over time primarily to clarify questions about Castaneda that I had read that just did not make sense. Most people who question what I have presented about Castaneda simply gather their information from the standard already in existence party line. Some of the people I've talked to in reference to Castaneda who, following some rather extended discussions, clarified a lot for me --- after Castaneda himself of course, others are people like C. Scott Littleton, Alex Apostolides, Barbara G. Myerhoff, Edward H. Spicer, Clement Meighan, who Castaneda dedicated his first book to, and Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan.
Interestingly enough, my interview with Runyan came about because before she married Castaneda, she had been engaged to another author, the cowboy and western writer, with over 100 books to his credit, Louis L'amour. It just so happened my uncle who, if you recall, was the Informant in Castaneda lore, just happened to know L'Amour. My uncle took me with him one day he went to see L'Amour. When I had a chance to meet Runyan years later I used me knowing L'Amour as the wedge to talk with her. As it was, and not many people know about it, my uncle, who was influential with Castaneda also, along with another man deeply seeped in Native American spiritual lore by the name of H. Jackson Clark, worked together funneling Native American spiritual facts to L'Amour used as a theme in two of his books that borderlined much of what Castaneda wrote about, titled The Californios and Haunted Mesa.
MARGARET RUNYAN CASTANEDA
In the form of a Crow