Origins of the Witch's Flying Ointment


A Bloodline’s Traditions

Flying ointment, which originated thousands of years ago, was a salve or oil made of animal fat and hallucinogenic herbs. Through historical text and the written accounts of those who came before us we have learned that during the Middle Ages this ointment was concocted by the traditional witch to help initiate spirit flight, also known as hedgecrossing—the practice of traveling outside of the physical body and passing into the Otherworld.  

During the crafting of flying ointment, animal fat was used to absorb a plant’s mind-altering chemicals called tropane alkaloids. The concoction would age in the dark for months before being smeared upon the skin of the witch, making her body a vessel for magical properties that would invoke hallucinations, wild rides and frenzied dancing throughout sleep or a dream-like state. Spirits would then unroot the witch and drag her into their realm. An alternative method and tradition of applying flying ointment involved the witch anointing a wooden staff or broomstick and straddling it. Doing this helped her absorb the ointment through the mucous membranes, as it was considered dangerous or lethal to ingest the concoction. This practice accounts for why we have artwork which depicts naked witches flying on brooms. Today, the traditions and crafting of flying ointment is considered to be a precarious and controversial practice, as many of the herbs used by magical practitioners during the Middle Ages were poisonous, having the potential to cause serious illness or death if used unwisely. Witches of this time period typically used herbs of the nightshade family in their flying ointment such as mandrake, belladonna, henbane and datura which had powerful hallucinogenic properties.

The witches within my bloodline are known for their ability to perform blood magic but they are also skilled in hedgecrossing and have used flying ointment since the late 1600s to drift into the spirit realm and connect with their deities, guides and loved ones, but the salves they crafted were most commonly used before hedgecrossing to a sabbath, black mass or a blood witch’s dark baptism. During these rituals and gatherings my witch mothers would engage in practicing the craft with their coven, consummating with spirits, gods or the Devil himself. Discreetly performing spellwork by hedgecrossing protected them during the Burning Times when witches were being tortured and executed for their beliefs and traditions. It was not always safe to conduct coven meetings in the physical.

As a modern-day hereditary witch that carries on the practices of my predecessors, the tradition and crafting of the flying ointment is a very important part of my craft. Often times I use flying ointment and a sex magic enchantment to consummate with my lover who resides in the spirit realm. Here, you will find my original flying ointment recipe for sensual hedgecrossing. The herbs used in this ointment are non-toxic and do not contain hallucinogenic properties—though damiana is known to have a mild sedative effect (using this herb is optional). It is safe for beginners and those who are interested in practicing hedge witchcraft.

Effy Winter is a hereditary blood witch and descendant of the Queen of Scottish Witches. She carries on the traditions and spellwork of her witch mothers, primarily working with the Devil throughout her practice of the craft. In her spare time, Effy works as a writer for various literary publications. She is the author of Flowers of the Flesh (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019), a collection of poetry stirred by romance and dark witchcraft.