All About Henbane, the “flying ointment” of witches

Listen up witches, here’s the scoop on henbane, “the insane seed that breedeth madness”…



From The Vintage News,


Henbane: Egyptians smoked it, witches used it for “flying ointment,” and it poisoned Hamlet’s father

by Magda Origjanska


“The dose makes the poison, the ancient pharmacists once said. Even the most poisonous fauna that Mother Nature produces can be beneficial if used judiciously. The word poison may evoke thoughts of sudden, painful death, but for centuries herbalists and healers exploited the power of natural toxins and venoms as medicine.


Moreover, it is no secret that some “notorious” substances played a hallucinogenic and psychotropic role too. Most of us are quite familiar with the fact that Coca-Cola’s older variants (1886-1929) contained cocaine in varying amounts. At the time cocaine was considered a legal medicine, and it wasn’t the first drinkable product that used the coca plant in its formula.


Among the numerous plants of this kind was henbane, which during the Middle Ages was widely known as “the insane seed that breedeth madness,” although today it is recognized for its contribution to the development of modern medical painkillers…”


Click here for the rest.


Cheers to England’s Forgotten Drink..

Tis the season for festive and interesting cocktails! This is a lovely little piece about something delightful called perry – “a fermented drink with fine bubbles made of inedible pears.”


Huffcap and Longford pears illustrated in 1811’s Pomona Herefordiensis



England’s Forgotten Favorite Drink

by Cynthia Green


“People were drinking perry—a fermented drink with fine bubbles made of inedible pears—for at least 150 years before the legend of Dom Perignon chancing upon his liquid stars in the French region of Champagne. And yet, somewhere along the line we forgot about perry, and over a hundred varieties of ancient perry trees throughout England’s West Midlands sunk into oblivion. That they were found again is partly due to the beautiful and accurate drawings of nineteenth-century botanical artists.


The Three Counties, referring to the agrarian West Midlands counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire, are unique in having more than a hundred varieties of inedible pear. Rather than let the tannin-rich fruit go to waste, by the 1500s agricultural families across the West Midlands (and bordering eastern Wales) were making and drinking perry. According to tradition, as the wonderfully-named Cherry Ripe writes in Gastronomica, a perry orchard should contain several varieties. This makes the harvest more manageable by spreading it across late autumn. It also staggers the flowering, which in turn staggers the risk of frost damage, and allows for unique flavour blending. But in order to do this, you have to be able to identify several varieties. By the 1800s, botanical artists specializing in fruit were drawing them all…”


For the rest, click here.




Courtship: The Viking Way

Here’s a population and a subject we can’t resist a little curiosity about…


A Courting message from Harald Harfagre to Gyda. Google Images


From History Collection,


Viking Love: 8 Facts about Love and Sex Among the Vikings

By Natasha Sheldon


“Vikings in popular culture are often viewed as the brutes of the Dark Ages, robbing, raping and pillaging people and goods. However, an analysis of their personal lives shows a much different side. Family life was important to Norse men, and every proper, upstanding Viking aimed to marry and have children. And although their parents arranged their marriages, Norsemen liked to court their ladies- and made a special effort to impress with their appearance.


As for Norse women, although they had to put up with their husband’s affairs with live-in mistresses, slaves and even other men, they had the right to divorce their partners for violence, neglect, and various sexually related issues. In fact, Norse customs of love, marriage, and sex set a high standard in their time- and some even survive to this day. Here are just eight facts about sex, love, and marriage in the Viking era…”


For the rest, click here.



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