Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Witchcraft Medicine

Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants is a collaboration between three German anthropologists: Claudia M =üller-Ebeling, Christian Rätch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl. I ordered it because I'll read anything that R�tsch has written, and, unfortunately, not enough of his work has been translated from German to English. (The translator here is Annabel Lee, whose work also appears in the journal Tyr -- see the October 18 entry.

The book is more a study of cultural transformation using texts and art work. The three "explore the demonization of nature's healing powers and sensuousness, the legacy of Hecate, the sorceress as shaman, and the plants associated with witches," to quote the back-cover blurb.

This book is more historical than hands-on; from a practitioner's position, I would rank it behind Dale Pendell's work. But it's still fascinating and inspiring.

One warning: don't trust anthropologists making etymological arguments. "Cathar" (the heretics) does not derive from the German word for "tomcat." (Storl gets it right: it's from the Greek word for "pure.") Nor does Boogie-Woogie, I will bet, derive from the same Indo-European root as the Russian Bog, "god."

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