Goddesses, Elixirs, and Witches: Plants and Sexuality Throughout Human History

Overview

From the earliest times, the medicinal properties of certain herbs were connected with deities, particularly goddesses. Only now with modern scientific research can we begin to understand the basis and rationality that these divine connections had and, being preserved in myths and religious stories, they continued to have a significant impact through the present day. Riddle argues that the pomegranate, mandrake, artemisia, and chaste tree plants substantially altered the development of medicine and fertility ...

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Overview

From the earliest times, the medicinal properties of certain herbs were connected with deities, particularly goddesses. Only now with modern scientific research can we begin to understand the basis and rationality that these divine connections had and, being preserved in myths and religious stories, they continued to have a significant impact through the present day. Riddle argues that the pomegranate, mandrake, artemisia, and chaste tree plants substantially altered the development of medicine and fertility treatments. The herbs, once sacred to Inanna, Aphrodite, Demeter, Artemis, and Hermes, eventually came to be associated with darker forces, representing the instruments of demons and witches. Riddle's ground-breaking work highlights the important medicinal history that was lost and argues for its rightful place as one of the predecessors

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Riddle’s insistence that one must know the texts first—and in their original tongues—before drawing conclusions from them, sets him apart from the large majority of those who publish in both the History of Medicine and Pharmacy.”—HerbalGram

“The book is pure Riddle: extraordinary history and blinding insight with a touch of whimsy. Recommended only for those interested in plants, war, altered states, witches, and sex – in other words, everyone!”--Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D., President of the Amazon Conservation Team, www.amazonteam.org

"These engaging investigations into the ancient quest to manage fertility – from Eve's apple to the chaste tree – show off Riddle's gift for wrapping a rollicking story around a core of serious scholarship and science."--Karen Reeds, Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and author of Botany in Medieval and Renaissance Universities

“Riddle’s pioneering work in rationalizing ancient knowledge through modern science continues. In a personable way, he weaves from history, religion, myths, and science the complex story of four herbs and their relationships to the female reproductive cycle. Of wide-ranging appeal, the book challenges the interpretations of many scholars and will unleash much constructive debate – a mark of a truly scholarly study.”--John Crellin, Honorary Research Professor, Memorial University

“Riddle’s engaging book uses a masterful storytelling technique to unravel – detective style – layer upon layer of facts and mythology about several important medicinal plants associated with sexuality. Based on meticulous research and familiarity with his subject, the author takes us back to the origins of agriculture and forward through the ages, vividly relating how lore grew and changed. It is both a valued reference and a page-turner.”--Anne Van Arsdall, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of New Mexico

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230610644
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 2/16/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

John M. Riddle is Alumni Distinguished Professor emeritus of History at North Carolina State University, where he holds appointments in the history and botany departments.

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Table of Contents

Inanna's Huluppu Tree, Pomegranates, and Sexual Power
• Pomegranate as Eve's Apple
• Mandrake, the Love Apple, and the World’s Religions
• Artemisia, the “Mother Herb”
• The Chaste Tree
• Hermes, Herbs, Elixirs, and Witches

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