JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
I'm not sure where to go with this post, exactly--I certainly wanted to capture this incredible sentence, though, which is one of the most bizarre-sounding creatures I've encountered in quite some time.
"The first liniment then is composed of the fat of young children seethed in a brazen vessel until it becomes thick as slab, and then scummed."--Montague Summers, The Werewolf, 1933.
All's fair in love and shape-shifting, which is what this is referenced, part of a Witch's salve/potion for werewolf-y preparations. It came about while looking around for some information on an image here for the plant Solanum Somniferum, a woodcut engraving from Pier Andrea Mattioli's (1500 to 1577) translation of Panadius Dioscorides' (40-90 a.c.e.) De Materia Medica. This ancient botanical received treatment over the centuries by many writers (including Fuchs, Anguillara, Mattioli, Maranta, Cesalpino, Dodoens, Fabio Colonna, and the Bauhins), though Mattioli's (ca.) 1560 treatment included more than 150 text illustrations, one of which is this layered and flowing image of Solanum, which I believe is Shakespeare's "insane root", a basis for ointments and ungents of considerable diversity, finding use in undercoating for women's makeup, and as a purgative, and aphrodisiac. And of course as an ingredient for a witch's body lotion when dealing with such things as shape-shifters and werewolves, and also for hallucinogenic experiences, and (if enough is consumed) death. It seems an all-purpose plant, seemingly not far-removed (to my non-botanical anti-gardening mind, please forgive me) from the equally expansive belladonna, night shade, a wide-ranging plant that even though its name in Italian means something like "beautiful woman" is famous for its lethal qualities.
Perhaps this sort of sentence, the seethed/slab/scummed bit above, is what Hans Baldung had in mind when he depicted his famous witches Sabbath (of 1510):