Saturday, March 3, 2012

Flying Ointments & Witch of Forest Grove, a Brief Detour

I have been reading the Witch of Forest Grove's entry on Flying Ointments. But, I'm having some issues here. There's two really bad comments that... Bother me immensely.

I need to say this as clearly as possible: YOU SHOULD NOT EXPERIENCE HALLUCINATIONS.

This is followed by:

You will experience the mundane world differently and you may feel awe, amazement, and wonder at what you see and feel. You may have profound thoughts and realizations you normally would not. You may hear whispers or see glimpses of things you would not in ordinary consciousness. And, when used ritually by those with the gift, you will be able to achieve things you’d never imagined when your spirit is separated from flesh; shapeshifting into animals and elemental forces, long distance travel, dreamwalking, interacting with wights and shades…

This is my problem... The word hallucination is defined as: An experience involving the perception of something not present. In the broadest sense, this is when you hear a voice that is not attached to a person or have another perception during waking hours with the absence of external stimulus.

The flying ointment opens you up to this capability, insofar as the literature and what she's written above. But it is hallucinatory. Your body is not physically flying when it occurred, therefore the perception is hallucinatory.

I suspect she means you should not have a bad trip, but she seems to be conflating the word hallucination with an allergic reaction or a bad trip. This is incorrect and worded as such, is misinforming to people who don't realize that the alkaloids involved are in some - if not many - cases hallucinogenic. E.G. They open you up that altered perception.

Otherwise, so far I've loved the entry. I'm just perplexed by those statements.


Harold Roth said...

I think the difference between what she is terming hallucination and the others is that in the former, the plant's alkaloids are functioning strictly on the physical level, as alkaloids, whereas in the other, the alkaloids a merely a tool or a key that opens a lock that is in the person all along. I think of folks who indulge in hallucinating with these plants--are there are tons of experience reports on Erowid along these lines that astound the reader with the level of recklessness--as the "tripping ballz" variety of experience. How fucked up can I get? That said, I have had horrific experiences with nightshades without ingesting them at all or ingesting only very small non-toxic amounts. I have also read reports of people using datura without any negative consequences and have frankly found them difficult to believe, but what the heck, the world is a big place. It could happen. I guess.

Jack Faust said...

Look, frankly? I think focusing on negative aspect of these plants and such is the best deterrent to people hoping to trip. Not warping a word because of prejorative connotations it has. Yes, the plant is an entheogen. It should be treated as such. But, terming negative reactions as "hallucinations" is misleading in a bad way.

Jack Faust said...

I have personally driven away, for example, would-be trippers from mandragora - today in fact - by telling them that ending my initial contact phase with it and its plant-matter resulted in a brief by intense period of depression. That matter stage is part of the plant's virtue, too, and must be felt before the plant can be appreciated as the spirit it is. My opinion, of course, but it's how I stress the difference. These aren't casual trip plants, I agree. Witches and sorcerers use them for other reasons entirely.

Autocorrect is just mocking me tonight.

Scylla said...

When searching for "Experiences with Forest Grove Flying Ointment" - all results returned point to her blog, tumblr, or store.
I know witches who have purchased her "lifters", but are either leery of using it, or use it as a fetiche.

So, there's a real dearth of reports on them, and their effects across the spectrum of sensitivities.

The referenced post is an example of what I call "Craft being castrated to avoid being seen as 'suspect'."

Flying ointments are designed to alter consciousness - via the mechanism of the physical body, with assistance from the physical. I.E. You Hallucinate, With Intent.
Cutting "Hallucinate" out of that may make you seem more respectable to the mainstream - but it lies to the Craft, and the Craft will laugh in your face for it.

Rose Weaver said...

I agree with your assessment of the term "hallucinate", Jack, FWIW.

In addition, I'd use mandragora if I wasn't taking other necessary medications. As discussed today, it seems as though serotonin, dopamine, and other chemicals in the brain are stimulated... ones I just can't risk after previous experiences, which is a damn shame. I've used mushrooms on occasion without incident, but that's as far as my experimentation can take me.

And this makes me wonder why they're so different? Anyway, questions for another time, I suppose.

Jack Faust said...

Rose: I totally understand those concerns. And without a doubt - they are the right ones to have. The honest answer I have to your question is that the plant alkaloids can be understood as a type of defense mechanism. Nature's way of urging caution. Lots of species of mushrooms are less "defensive" than the nightshades. It's also a way of understanding the plants desires for us - less deadly means the potential for more use on one level or another. I see it as sympathetic, or symbiotic. Mushrooms, even aware ones, are less likely to be hostile to you on all levels. Nightshades are more... Aggressive, on some level. They want to be used, but more by things like them. So they have more complications. But this is also species dependant, and plant dependant.

Jack Faust said...

And Rose, I don't think you're someone just out for kicks by any means.

Kenaz Filan said...

I had one experience with mandragora in 1993. I tried drinking repeated small sips of a mandrake tea to see if I could induce an altered state. I succeeded in doing so, insofar as "36 hours of projectile vomiting combined with diarrhea that felt like burning gasoline" can be considered an altered state. My first experience of approaching an ally only to be told "piss off."

Psilocybin mushrooms are generally pretty mellow: amanitas can kick you in the teeth if you don't approach them with the proper respect. I've approached belladonna and datura but have never consumed either -- after getting swatted around by mandrake, I really would rather not consume an anticholinergic plant unless absolutely necessary.

ISTR another story about somebody who made flying ointment using a medieval recipe, save for one change: sie used Noxzema rather than lard as the base. Alas, the alcohol in Noxzema resulted in far more of the scopalamine and other compounds leeching out - and so while sie flew just fine, the flight wound up being a permanent one...

V.V.F. said...

I feel so bad for laughing at that Noxzema story. But I am.

Rose Weaver said...

@Jack, no I'm definitely not out for kicks. I honestly would like to experience the effects to compare them to my experiences with mushrooms... as an experiment of sorts I guess you could say. I know what my experiences have been with them and they have been incredibly interesting and insightful, but datura, peyote, and ayahuasca have interested me for years. Mandrake has as well, but I wasn't as familiar with that and flying ointments until recently.

I do see your point regarding the difference between 'shrooms and Nightshades; I'm just not an aggressive sort of person, nor am I aggressive in my practice. Maybe this is why the sympathetic/symbiotic nature of psilocybins work much better for me without negative reactions. Just kinda thinking out loud here...

@Kenaz: Like VVF, feeling bad about the Noxzema thing, but also chuckling. I'm sorry, but can't help myself.

Rose Weaver said...

Well, check that; I certainly can be aggressive with my practice of magic; dark even, but that doesn't mean mandragora is the right plant for me. One must approach all plants with respect, as well as an understanding of the symbiotic relationship one may, or may not have with them. This seems to be one which just doesn't suit me, other medications aside.

Kenaz Filan said...

@V.V.F. and Rose: if you're bad people for chuckling at the Noxzema story, I'm going to hell. I regularly read Erowid's "Experience Vault" for the pure comedy gold to be found therein. One of my favorite Erowid tales involves a report from a guy who stole a pallet full of expired drugs from the back of a hospital. After going through the Demerol, benzodiazepenes and other entertaining substances he decided to experiment with what was left. More precisely, he IV'ed a syringe full of scopalamine. ("And the studio audience goes wild!!!")

Another one involved a guy who ate a Datura seed pod, only to find zombies shuffling through his bathroom as he was taking a shower. His response was "Whoa!!! Cool!!!" At which point Datura apparently decided he was stupid enough to be entertaining and spared him. (Alas, he visited her again -- and woke up five days later on assisted respiration and a catheter... ).

Cole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rose Weaver said...

@Kenaz: I've had to use scopalamine for air sickness and just one patch is enough to cause some problems. I cannot even imagine what shooting up a syringe of that stuff would do! Good grief!

And a whole seed pod?

No... just... no!

I'm not sure whether to laugh or shake my head at this point. lol

Cole said...

FWIW, I believe she was trying to make the distinction between visionary level experiences, which flying ointments properly used can bring, and deliriant, which are very different things.

It's a common, and useful, delineation, at least in the corners of the entheogen community I spend my time in. There's a huge difference between mushroom and DMT visions and deliriant hallucinations.

You're free to disagree in the usage, of course, but it's not idiosyncratic of her

Harold Roth said...

My favorite story on Erowid re the nightshades is a report on belladonna consumption where one of the participants reports that he saw his friend grow claws and later run off into the woods acting like an animal. I think this points to an underlying truth about belladonna, that it could well be the most shapeshifting of the nightshades. It would make sense of medieval and Early Modern werewolf stories where the individual ferociously attacks others.

I don't think psylocibin mushrooms can be compared to nightshades. As far as I know, no one has ever died of psylocibin mushrooms.

I agree with what Jack says about alkaloids being a defense mechanism, since they are usually concentrated either in stressed plants, like that under drought or too intense sun, or plant parts that would basically cost the plant its life if they were consumed, like the root in fall or often in seeds or new leaves. OTOH, I think alkaloids are also a language that plants have created to communicate with us.

Re making and selling flying ointments, the Witch of Forest Grove is in Canada, where its appears to be perfectly legal to sell flying ointments with belladonna and mandrake in them. Here, no, because of Drug War laws against selling anything that the seller says acts as a scheduled substance. I can tell you that right now they are going after people selling herbal incense hammer and tong. I had quite a dust-up with Paypal recently over this issue, when they wanted to dump me after 12 years of business because they claimed I was selling herbal incense, i.e., stuff to get high with, when in fact I was selling herbal incense to do magic. It was quite a bit of work to explain to them what I was actually selling and that there were no "code words" on my site. I would never want to have to explain to them that I was selling something with belladonna in it that was meant to be a leave-on skin product. Besides, there are too many idiots in the world. I had to get rid of poison hemlock seeds for that reason.

I haven't heard of anyone actually using the belladonna ointments sold either. I can see what you're saying, Jack, about the use of the word "hallucination." The problem I have with the negatives and warnings about these plants is that some people, because of Drug War palaver, interpret "toxic" to mean "fun to get high with" and "deadly poison" to mean "trip ballz." I mean, they say marijuana is TOXIC, for crying out loud.

OTOH, I don't think these things should be simply unavailable. Best of all is if people grow them themselves, because I do think that most people do get the picture when they grow the plants themselves. You can't help when being around these plants to notice things like the unpleasant smell (although mandrake does not smell unpleasant unless you break the leaves or root).

Anonymous said...

Flying Ointments are not hallucinations but real thing. Get your education up.