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These Mysteries constitute the most inner Mysteries of Wicca/Witchcraft, which are related to spiritual and magical (magickal) transformation. They concern the magical abilities to physically change shape (see Metamorphosis) or to fly that are found in almost every legend and fairy tale related to Witches. This power to ascend the laws of physics is greatly respected in the Mysteries of Wicca (see Wiccan Mythos). In some incidents a potion, ointment, or elixir is required to bring about the desired effect. In the transcripts of the Witch trails in the Middle Ages a so-called flying-ointment was mentioned, which was said to contain powerful drugs and grotesque ingredients.
The applications of the potions and ointments originated from the use of hallucinogenic plant by shamans in the early Witch cults. Ergot mold (Claviceps purpurea), found particularly on rye, and therefore contained in the flour used to make sabbat cakes, was used for shamanic journeys. LSD is a synthesized product made from ergonovine. Mushrooms such as road mushroom (Amanita muscaria) also produce a state of intoxication. Because of its high concentration in the urine of a person drinking its juice, urine was found to be an ingredient in some very ancient potions. Another intoxicant, bufotenia, comes from the secretion of certain frogs, and was also another ancient ingredient associated with Witches.
The ability to shapeshift, turning into an animal such as a wolf, is still claimed to be a power by Witches of the Old Ways. Some believed this is a thought form that was mentally projected when in a trance or under the influence of intoxicants. Others believed it to be a form of mimeric magic, taking on the actions of a wolf (heightened by using hallucinogenics). While other Witches of the Old Family Traditions maintain that shapeshifting is an actual physical transformation.
The experiences of initiation and psychic development are included within the Transformation Mysteries. The wine used in modern Wiccan rituals does not include the psychotropic ingredients as it did in ancient times; but the symbolism remains. The psychic centers of the body are activated and the individual is aligned with occult energies. This allows the person to access other planes or dimensions through employing both the conscious and unconscious mind. In the Bacchic Mysteries of Italy, this was the divine intoxication that brought the person into the presence of the Divine. A.G.H.
Grimassi, Raven, Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft,
St. Paul, MN, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2000, pp. 373-374