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Hidden Histories and Ancient Mysteries of Witches, Plants and Fungi

Discover ancient rituals and plant lore that formed the foundations for medicine, botany, and modern agriculture

By: Frank Matthew Dugan(Author)

180 pages, 32 colour & b/w photos and colour & b/w illustrations

American Phytopathological Society

Paperback | Jan 2015 | #219654 | ISBN-13: 9780890544655
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-4 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £97.99 $126 / €112 approx

About this book

For centuries, peasants leapt over bonfires with accompaniment of song, ale and courtship, in spring, mid-summer and fall, all to combat plant diseases such as smut, rust, darnel, and rinderpest.

During these times, rituals for protection of crops and livestock were the primary basis of social life and cohesion, and these rituals contributed to a vigorous plant lore that later transmuted into the foundations of medicine, botany, and modern agriculture.

In Hidden Histories and Ancient Mysteries of Witches, Plants and Fungi, Dr. Frank Dugan, veteran plant pathologist and author of Fungi in the Ancient World and Conspectus of Ethnobiology traces the evolution of plant lore and crop protection from the ancient beginnings of agriculture, through human civilization's advances, and into today, where modern witches now browse online for herbal remedies and consult their county extension agents on edible fungi.

Through this unique book, Dugan stitches a wide variety of academic disciplines in a cohesive, entertaining, and historically relevant text that opens a window on the cultures of centuries past and the plants within them – a window made more transparent by recent advances in archaeobotany, molecular-genetics, paleolinguistics, paleo- and historical climatology, agricultural history, and comparative folklore.



Shadows of Works and Days:
A revised history of cereals, legumes, and their pathogens from Neolithic through premodern Europe
Introduction: Beyond Hesiod
Nemesis: Plant pathogenic fungi in medieval and premodern Europe
Vexing vetch: Pulses, poisons, and language
What is Pre-Greek for ‘lentil’ and why should we care?
Famine, foraging, and foragers

Deep Time of the Cunning Women:
Origins, evolution, and exploitation of ethnobotany in Europe and the Mediterranean
Introduction: Conjectures and caveats
Archaeobotanical and archeological evidence
Linguistic evidence
Was ethnobotanical lore transferred by patrilocal exogamy?
Medicinal plants in ancient, medieval and premodern writings
Medicinal plants in folklore and folkways
Mining the herbals for drug discovery
Available germplasm

Mare’s Eggs and Thorn-Apples:
Potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, maize, and other American plants in European folktales and other folkways
Introduction: Tale types and motifs
The potato
The tomato
Capsicum peppers
Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Squash and pumpkin
Diffusionist controversies

Kitchen Witches:
Facts, folklore and fakelore on the transfiguration of the herb-women
Introduction: Roots of tradition and seeds of commerce
Women and the garden
Literacy: A gate leading to plant resources
But another gate closes: Enclosure and deforestation
Seeds and seedsmen
Herbs bottled, people pilled, hokum swilled
Herbal traditions: Exploring the past or inventing it?
Herbal Renaissance: A new cyber synthesis

Vestiges of Vanished Gods:
Plants and agriculture in the calendars and customs of Northwest Europe
Introduction: How pagan is our plant lore?
Crops, cattle, and combustion: The fire festivals
Leaves and trees: Offerings traditional and forbidden
Other customs: Living relics in a modern world?
Higher leaves and deeper roots
Frazer’s fate: The Gold-Plated Bough?

Literature Cited


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Frank Dugan is a Research Plant Pathologist with the USDA-ARS Western Regional Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research Station at Washington State University. He was formerly a Collection Scientist for Mycology and Botany at American Type Culture Collections, and spent his career managing and researching diverse collections of fungal and higher plant germplasm. Dr. Dugan is also the author of the best-selling, critically acclaimed APS PRESS books The Identification of Fungi: An Illustrated Introduction with Keys, Glossary and Guide to Literature and Fungi in the Ancient World.

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