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Observations placeholder

Bruja ointment



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Sufis – Idries Shah

"Witch," as we are widely informed, simply means "wise." This word could occur anywhere, and need not be a translation from Arabic or anything else. "Wise" is a name used by dervish cults, and also by the followers of other more or less undiluted traditions.

In Spanish, the word for witch is bruja. And it is in Spain that we find early and relatively complete accounts of the rituals and beliefs of the people of Western Europe who celebrated similar festivities and were considered by the Church to be votaries of the Black One.

We can follow up the clue which is contained in the fact that the maskhma dervishes, although they are found nowadays mostly in pockets of Central Asia and occasionally in India, use the Arabic word whose radical is BRSH……………

Dictionary words give us a selection of - a hallucinogenic substance, a symbol, and a ritual mark, all under this general consonantal grouping:

BRSH = Datura stramonium (thorn apple), pronounced BaRSH.

Alternatively, by similarity of sound:

YBRUH = root of the mandrake (Syriac loanword), pronounced YaBRUUHH.

Both of these contain alkaloids. Both were reputed to have been used by witches, to induce visions, sensations of flying, and in rituals.

What is a symbol associated with witches? A broom:

M-BRSHa = a brush, broom, scraper (Syrian dialect), pronounced MiBRSHA.

Translating from the group of words, we can therefore describe a community of people associating themselves with this letter arrangement as:

"Associated with the mandrake (or thorn apple); using the symbol of the broom, identified by a mark on the skin, wearing a particolored or motley garb."

Such people would be most accurately described in Arabic, and in medieval Spain, as brujo (masculine) or bruja (feminine), pronounced at the time brusho, brusha.

If we accept the connection with the Revelers, we can associate further. Their use of the mandrake would provide a further homonym - the colloquialism mabrush, mabrusha, "frenzied," a reference to their dancing. The traditional witches' dance has been identified with, or at least compared to, two forms of dance known in Europe -that of the Saracens, the waltz (which is supposed to have come from Asia through the Balkans), and the dibka, the Middle Eastern ring dance, known from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.

We can now go on to a further stage - the witches' ointment and what it might have been composed of. Why was the ointment originally used? In Arabic, "ointment" is RHM, the word which also stands for blood kindred. Ointment was given to the witch, male or female, after initiation, and after being marked. Marham, ointment, is rubbed on to the skin with a view to establishing a symbolic form of blood kinship. Thus, by an "anointing," if we can talk in Semitic roots, the ointment (RHM) is applied to help create the condition of blood kinship (RHM). It was to be used in the future, to take the witch to his or her kindred, RHM. So the RHM formed the mental, pharmalogical link with the RHM.

But was there no alkaloid or other active principle in the witch ointment?

There most certainly was. It will be remembered that witches made a brew from the bodies or severed members of unbaptized babies. The mandrake root, it will be remembered is human in shape. It is traditionally thought of as a tiny simulacrum of a human being. A tiny human being is a child. As a plant, we could hardly expect it to be duly baptized. And ingredients of the ointment seem to be this form of an "unbaptized one"

The source of the experience

Magician other

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Science Items

Activities and commonsteps