Upcoming Flying Ointment Classes

Posting my recent review of Thomas Hatsis’ The Witches’ Ointment reminded me to post the info for a classes I’m teaching this summer on that very topic.

This summer I’ll be doing my Unguentum Sabbati class in two places: at TempleFest in New Hampshire and right here in Washington, DC. Folks familiar with my Flying to the Witches Sabbath Class will feel right at home since this is a deeper dive into a subtopic within that arena: the notorious (and usually poisonous) flying ointment.

Here’s the class description:

“In the dark of night they meet in a forest clearing. One by one they smother a foul ooze upon one another’s naked bodies. They dance in ecstasy as the poison goo seeps into their bloodstream. As the drums and rattles overwhelm the senses, their bodies become lighter than air as they touch off the ground and lift into the night sky. Soaring between the stars, they take their flight to the sabbat gathering and enact their witchery…”

Dramatic tales of witch flight like the above can be found all across Europe from hundreds of years past. The flying ointment is said to be a toxic aid responsible for the witch’s flight to the sabbat meeting grounds. Traditional flying ointments from old Europe were said to be made from a noxious mix of animal fats, poisons, and a number of other nefarious ingredients. In this hands-on activity, we’ll craft a DYI non-toxic, animal-free flying ointment* that’s easy to make and replicate in the future. While mixing our ointments, we’ll discuss the history of the witches’ “Unguentum Sabbati”, what it’s used for, and how the spirits of flowers, roots, and leaves will aid us in traversing the otherworld. Take your own container home and put it to use in dream work, astral travel, and otherworldly trance.

The in-person versions of this class are part of an experiment to see if it might be possible to teach this online through a brief distance course. Would you be interested in such a course? Drop me a line and let me know!

About the Author

David Salisbury is a queer vegan witch and author of several books on witchcraft and the mystic arts. He lives in Washington DC where he works to co-facilitate The Firefly House, an open pagan organization for the area. He enjoys growing poisonous plants and eating cake (though usually not at the same time).

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  1. You had me until it was clear the class was going to begin and end in the wading end of the pool :”non-toxic, animal-free flying ointment.” In other words, an ahistorical and ersatz tribute to the notion of flying ointment. I would infer that it would involve some mix of mild (I would say imperceptible) sedatives and putative oneirogens like mugwort, or a formula which draws on the metaphysical rather than chemical attributes of its ingredients.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with those things, but I just can’t get juiced about them either. It’s a bit like a class syllabus on the crafting of fine single malt scotch which ends with only a crock of barley soup. Now…if anyone was willing to get their lab bench dirty and commit some serious ethnopharmacological exploration of tropane alkaloid mixtures and delivery vehicles…then I’d be the first to register.

    1. Hi Kenneth, thanks for your comment. If you check out the event links, I address all of that. The recipe for public classes contains plants containing thujone (except for pregnant or nursing folks).
      All of the ingredients can be found in the traditional recipes, just omitting the highly dangerous ones. Many of the non-toxic ingredients have physical reactions on the body. For example, Clary Sage and Dittany.
      And although I don’t use the deadly plants for public classes (I literally am unable to, for obvious legal reasons), I do cover them extensively in the lecture portion.

      1. I won’t make it to either of the scheduled events, but keep us posted on possible distance courses. If you had something with a comprehensive treatment of all of the ingredients in traditional ointment. Naturally one cannot expect someone to sell the like of Datura to unknown folks, but I’ve cultivated these sorts of things in the past for spell work and some extraction research. I need to restart that as time allows. If I trouble to create something like an ointment, it will be the real article, or as close as my knowledge allows, even if its only destined for my collection of curiosities. Nightshade plants demand utmost respect, but they are only “deadly” in the hands of fools.
        At the risk of picking a nit, your registration page makes reference to “thujone alkaloids.” Thujone is a monoterpene and ketone, and so far as I know, all of the medicinal compounds in Ditttany/Clary Sage are terpinoid or aromatic in nature with no nitrogen in the molecules. I concede I sometimes unfairly give short shrift to the psychoactive potential of these compounds. Then I remember that Salvinorin A is a terpenoid too….

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