Witch’s Flying Ointment: A History & Non-Toxic Recipes
The image of witches flying on broomsticks is a misconstrued truth – witches “flew” but perhaps not in the way you might expect. In this article, we’ll discover the history of flying ointments, provide flying ointment recipes, and teach you how to create your own (safer) flying ointment recipe.
What is Flying Ointment?
What is a flying ointment and what does it have to do with witches on broomsticks? The original flying ointment was an herbal salve, ointment, or oil that witches used to anoint themselves. Other names for flying ointment included green salve, hexensalbe (hexen salve), and witch’s salve. The ingredients in these ointments when applied to the skin are believed to have produced a trance-like state in the recipient. This shift in consciousness gave witches visions or sensations of flying in the sky, visiting remote locations, and communicating with the spirit world. Sometimes flying ointments were used to induce experiences of shapeshifting (changing into the likeness of an animal). Essentially, the belief is when witches “fly” they are astral projecting. Some symptoms of astral projection include the feeling of floating out of one’s body, visions of “flying” to other realms or planes of existence, and even meeting other beings in these “realms”.
According to a guide in the UAB, “in 1458, a man called Abraham the Jew published an account of an interesting experience. He met a witch in Linz, Austria, who gave him an unguent, or ointment, and told him to spread it over his pulse points, as she did the same. Abraham had the sensation of flying through the air to a place he wanted to visit. When he awoke, the witch told him a different tale of her travels, which inspired him to investigate further. He then asked her to take the ointment while he watched. Instead of flying, he observed the witch fall to the floor and remain immobilized for hours; she woke with further tales. He concluded the unguent induced hallucinations of flying and other fantasies” (Lois Martin, A Brief History of Witchcraft, pp. 49-50).
Flying on Broomsticks?
The women accused of witchcraft in Medieval Times were women who tended house: wives, midwives, servants, etc. And what do these people have in common? A broom! Seems only natural the broom was a representation of women and therefore became a witch’s tool. And if we look deeper into the occult mysteries of the witch’s broom, we also find that some believed the broom was a representation of fertility. The stick being a phallic symbol that’s inserted into twigs or plant matter that’s representative of a female’s womb.
Another story suggests witches anointed their broomsticks with flying ointments and then anointed their vaginas with it (we’re not recommending that). There are flying ointment recipes dating back to the Dark Ages some witches still use today. Most of the old flying ointment recipes included an animal fat used as the base of the salve and infused with one or more toxic herbs. It’s interesting to note that witches “flew” on broomsticks when they were technically “high” on flying ointment. Please don’t go anointing your mucus membranes with herbal salves, as the absorption rate is much higher and may affect you in a more toxic or even deadlier way.
What Did a Flying Ointment Consist Of in the Middle Ages?
Flying ointment recipes in the Dark Ages included the following poisonous (baneful) herbs:
- fly agaric
If you choose to study and recreate any of the old flying ointment recipes, most people will tell you to stay far away from the herbs above. They are all toxic in one way or another and have been known to cause sickness and death. But there are those who work with poisonous herbs and refer to this type of herbalism as the “poison path”. They claim baneful herbs also have their healing and otherworldly properties. One such poison path herbalist is Coby Michael, the author of The Poison Path Herbal, and someone who we had the pleasure of interviewing on our podcast Mimir’s Well. You can listen to that episode below. And following that, go to his Facebook Group and sign up as a member. You’ll learn more in his group than anywhere else online, I promise you that.
DISCLAIMER: Always proceed with caution when using these herbs (and any herbs you are not familiar with). If you have any medical conditions, it’s best to refrain from using the herbs from traditional flying ointments (and as listed above). You are responsible for your own decisions and health.
Flying Ointment Recipe #1 (Toxic)
Poisonous herbs are marked with an asterisk * below.
Infuse three herbs in pure olive oil or sweet almond oil for at least two weeks, for up to a month (in an air-tight glass jar such as a Mason jar). You’ll want to use 1/4 herbs to 3/4 oil as a general rule for herbal infused oil. Shake the jar every day, twice a day. At the end of the 2-4 weeks, strain out the herbs and bottle the flying ointment oil. Anoint your chakras or your power points (third eye and back of neck/tip of spine) to induce a trance and take flight.
Flying Ointment Recipe #2 (Safe)
This recipe is not traditional or out of any ancient grimoire or Book of Shadows, it’s my personal flying ointment oil recipe. The herbs aren’t toxic but still encourage an alpha-state of mind.
- Bay leaves
Infuse three herbs in sweet almond or jojoba oil for 2-4 weeks in an air-tight glass jar. Follow instructions in first recipe above. Anoint power points on body: third eye, back of neck, under arms, tops of feet, chakra points, etc. Especially helpful to anoint before bed-time, as you may experience intense astral travel.
Flying Ointment Recipe #3: Herbal Salve (Safe)
If you’re looking for a flying ointment close to the traditional, you’ll first make a flying ointment oil then use that as a base for an herbal salve. Herbal salves take longer to create but are worth the effort. The consistency is much thicker and will not drip or rub off as easily as an oil.
- Herbal infused oil of your choice
- beeswax or carnauba wax
- glass jar or tin container
- optional: vitamin E (to preserve) and essential oils (to add extra scent/energy)
Combine the wax and herbal oil and set it on low-heat to warm over a double-boiler on your stove. Remove from the stove and add your optional Vitamin E and Essential Oils. Pour into glass or tin container. Allow your salves to cool totally before storing. Store it somewhere cool and dark, so as to avoid heating and re-solidifying the salve. Consistency of the salve depends on how much wax you use in your flying ointment. More wax equals a thicker consistency, less wax equals a looser consistency.
Create Your Own Ointment!
Whether you’re a new or experienced herbalist, you can create your own flying ointment recipe. May we suggest to try making an herbal infused oil first. These are simplest when you are just starting out. Do your research. Find herbs you’d like to try, starting with the mild herbs to induce visions and trances (i.e. bay leaves, mugwort, etc.) Ease yourself into flying ointments. Study and study and study. If something doesn’t work, don’t keep using it. Try something different.