Witches Still Fly: Or Do They? Traditional Witches, Wiccans, and Flying Ointment

  • Chas S. Clifton
Part of the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic book series (PHSWM)


While Wicca has become somewhat socially accepted in recent years, a split has developed between its practitioners and self-styled “traditional witches”, who seek inspiration in the tales generated by the witch trials: of sabbaths, of pacts, of flying, of communication with the dead. Discussion of “flying ointment”—literally a homemade ointment containing psychotropic herbs, but which might also be extended metaphorically to include other entheogens—has become something of a shibboleth to distinguish between those Pagan witchcraft or Wiccan groups that seek a degree of respectability and those that spurn it. It furthermore offers a lens through which to examine claims of authenticity and claims of secrecy in contemporary witchcraft. In doing so, it draws upon the notion of “secretism”, the idea that the impression of an individual or group possessing secrets is more important than the actual content of those secrets.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chas S. Clifton
    • 1
  1. 1.Colorado State University–PuebloPuebloUSA

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