Veneficium concerns the intersection of magic and poison, originating in remotest antiquity and reaching into the present day. Beyond their functions as agents of bodily harm, poisons have also served as gateways of religious ecstasy, occult knowledge, and sensorial aberration, as well as the basis of cures.
Allied with Samael, the Edenic serpent of first transgression whose name in some interpretations is ‘Venom of God’, this facet of magic wends through the rites of ancient Sumer and Egypt, through European Necromancy, Alchemy, the arcane the rites of the Witches’ Sabbath, and modern-day folk magic.
Of particular note to this study are the herbs of the so-called ‘Devil’s Garden’, bearing relation to the witchcraft concepts of the Graal of Midnight, the Witches’ Supper, and the Unguentum Sabbati, the flying ointment of the witches which has exerted fascination over scholar, historians, and practitioners alike.
Beyond consideration of the toxicological dimensions of magical power, the concurrent thread of astral and philosophical poisons are also examined, and their resonance and dissonance with magical practice explored. Veneficium will be of interest to students of magic, witchcraft, alchemy, botanical folklore, medicine, and occult pharmacology.
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