The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners
The Healing Power of Medicinal Plants
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
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Traditional herbalists or wise women were not only good botanists or pharmacologists; they were also shamanic practitioners and keepers of occult knowledge about the powerful properties of plants. Traveling back to the healing arts of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners takes readers deep into this world, through the leechcraft of heathen society and witches’ herb bundles to the cloister gardens of the Middle Ages. It also examines herbal medicine today in the traditional Chinese apothecary, the Indian ayurvedic system, homeopathy, and Native American medicine.
Balancing the mystical with the practical, author Wolf Storl explains how to become an herbalist, from collecting material to distilling and administering medicines. He includes authoritative advice on herb gardening, as well as a holistic inventory of plants used for purposes both benign and malign, from herbs for cooking, healing, beauty, and body care to psychedelic plants, witches’ salves for opening alternative realities, and poisonous herbs that can induce madness or cause death. Storl also describes traditional “women’s plants” and their uses: dyeing cloth, spinning and weaving, or whipping up love potions. The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners is written for professional and amateur herbalists as well as gardeners, urban homesteaders, and plantspeople interested in these rich ancient traditions.
Wolf D. Storl is a cultural ecologist and university professor who has conducted research and taught in the United States, India, Mexico, the Canary Islands, South Africa, and much of Europe. As an anthropologist his area of research is shamanism and healing in traditional societies with a focus on the role of plants in all aspects of life, including sacred symbolism, magic, medicine, foods, and poisons.
The author of more than two dozen books in German and English including Healing Lyme Disease Naturally, he lives with his family and a number of pets in the forested foothills of the Alps in southern Germany, where he gardens, collects herbs, conducts ethnobotanical studies and writes his books.
“A deep excursion into the heart of herbalism … The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners invites us into the hearts and essences of the plants and encourages us to discover ‘who’ they are through the realm of our own senses.”
—from the foreword by Rosemary Gladstar, author of Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and coauthor of The Herbalist’s Way
“For the serious student of herb lore, or anyone who would be delighted by the colorful history of herbalism … Wolf Dieter Storl has penned an account of wortcunning that is entertaining and practical. Without sacrificing pragmatic information about the healing properties of plants, Storl reveals the amazing mystique of this ancient lore.”
—Matthew Wood, author of The Earthwise Herbal
“A thorough history of global plant medicine that incorporates intellect, science, and lore … an insightful reference that needs to be part of every herbalist’s library.”
—Kris Hill, herbalist and founder of Hillbotanical.com
"I own at least a couple of hundred books on all aspects of herbs and herbalism, but this one is my all-time favorite. Not so much a book about herbs, but a literary walk down the secret garden path to the plant devas themselves. I have learned more about the art and craft of traditional herbalism from these pages than from any other source, and I am delighted that this book is now, finally, becoming available to the English speaking world! A 'must read' for any student of herbalism who wants to go beyond formulas and constituents."
—Kat Morgenstern, founder of ethnobotany and ecotravel website SacredEarth.com
“[The book] discusses old European, Oriental, and Native American herbal medicine with all of their mysticism and in the same breath speaks about modern concepts of health. The reader is taken into a historic world that accepted and used herbal energetics in healing. The text delves into principles of shamanism, homeopathy, planetary influences, and anthroposophic medicine. … Comparisons of Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Greek classifications of medical plants according to taste and smell is particularly interesting.”
—Kathi Keville, American Herb Association
“[Wolf D. Storl] provides enough detail to empower the novice while surprising the old hand. … I recommend this book to any practicing herbalist and serious researcher who seeks a source of literature previously lacking in our discipline.”
—Amanda McQuade Crawford, consultant medical herbalist at The Ojai Center of Phytotherapy and contributing editor to HerbalGram
“The Herbal Lore of Wise Women and Wortcunners offers a survey of the healing art of ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and contrasts these early practices with herbal medicine today from Chinese, Indian and Native American medicine. Author Wolf D. Storl explains how to collect plants, distill, and administer medicines from them and includes old-world 'women's plants' and their other uses as well. … A fine acquisition for any interested in herbalism and botany.”
—Midwest Book Review