October 31, 2008
Halloween-Themed Post #5
And now for my favorite bit of Halloween trivia, which may also be my favorite bit of any sort trivia. I learned this fact from Aisling, who learned it from Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, a great book which chronicles the history of the potato, the tulip, the apple, and cannabis. It should be no surprise that, historically, women who were deemed "witches" were more precisely wise women, healers, diviners, etc., which also made them skilled botanists. Here, in a NPR interview, Pollan explains one of the mixtures these botanists brewed...
Gardens—you know, it's a little old lady pastime now, but in the old days it was powerful. I mean, people had an appreciation of the power of plants to change consciousness... you had the witches' gardens where they were making up these— they call them flying ointments. And when you talk about witches flying on broomsticks, they're really talking about tripping and applying drugs with— broomsticks was a euphemism for dildos.
Really brings a whole new meaning to "flying on a broomstick". Just keep that in mind tonight when you see all those cute little girls dressed as witches wielding their broomsticks. Way to reappropriate that one, Hallmark.