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Flying Ointment

Originally posted on Patheos Pagan 2018

One of the most well-known uses for baneful plants was for flying ointments. A salve that was made by adding plant matter to fat which was then rubbed on the body to induce an hallucination that allowed the person to believe they were flying. This is not a recommended course of action, really it isn’t – slathering your skin with poisonous ingredients is not wise. If you want an out of body experience then please do try the method of astral projection, it is so much safer and doesn’t involve covering yourself in deadly animal fat.

Many stories are told of witches creating magic potions that would allow them to fly and the ingredients were said to be mixed with the fat from plump human babies… Do remember that our ancestors were wary of anyone that appeared to be different or have magical abilities – and that included the herbalists who could cure illness and disease. They also liked to sit and gossip, in fact a lot of people still do.

Historians have found details on flying ointments that included herbs from the nightshade family such as belladonna, datura, mandrake and henbane with the addition of less poisonous, but still dangerous plants like mugwort and poppies.

The practice of using hallucinogenic plants isn’t restricted to witches. The history of their use goes back thousands of years and includes Shamanic and Native American tribes whose rituals included experiencing trance journeys.

I believe that if you study hard and work at your Craft then you can reach a trance state for journeying without the need to endanger your health or your life messing about with poisons, but that is purely my own point of view.

You can however create a salve or an incense to help you create a good atmosphere for astral travel or Otherworld journeys without the use of poisonous or hallucinogenic plants. Play around with some of your favourite herbs and spices or use those that are particularly associated with astral travel, psychic abilities, meditation or the Otherworld such as: Bay, beech, benzoin, black pepper, blackthorn, borage, cat nip, chamomile, cinnamon, dandelion, eucalyptus, fennel, fenugreek, frankincense, jasmine, juniper, marigold, myrrh, mugwort, parsley, pine, rose, white and red sandalwood, star anise, thyme and yarrow.

Or you could create a medicine pouch which includes baneful plants, that way you benefit from their spirit rather than choking on fumes from burning them.

Flying ointment salve (a safe one)

2 cups of oil such as olive, almond or coconut

¼ cup beeswax chips

4-6 teaspoons of your chosen dried herbs (I like a mixture of red sandalwood, bay and mugwort)

Heat the oil in a pan with the herbs over a low heat, preferably in a double boiler for two to three hours until the oil takes on a green colour. Or you can pop the herbs into the oil in a jar with a lid and leave for three to four weeks, shaking daily. You will need to do one of these methods to infuse the herbs into the oil.

Strain the herbs from the oil. Add the oil to a double boiler with the beeswax chips until they have melted. Pour into small pots or jars and pop on the lids.

If you prefer not to use beeswax then candelilla wax can be substituted but you may need to adjust the quantity and use slightly less candelilla wax than you would beeswax.

If you want to create your salve with soy wax use these quantities plus your chosen herbs.

1 cup soy wax

1 ½ cups oil

You may also need to add a tablespoon or two of water to create the right consistency.

Flying Incense blend

Equal quantities of each:





Astral travel tea herbs

You could use just one of the following or a blend, but they may all assist in astral travel.

Cinnamon, chamomile, echinacea, eucalyptus, ginger, ginseng, mint, lavender, mugwort, primrose, valerian and willow.


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