Malleus Maleficarum

Malleus Maleficarum and cannabis


hemp is warm

[De Hanff-Cannabus] Hemp is warm, and when the air is neither very warm nor very cold, it grows and so too is its nature, and its seeds contain healing power, and it is wholesome for healthy people to eat, and in their stomachs it is light and useful, so that it carries out the mucus from the stomach to some extent,and it can be easily digested, and it diminishes the bad humors and makes the good humors strong. But he who is ill in the head and has an empty brain and eats hemp, this will easily cause him some painin the head. But he who has a healthy head and a full brain in the head, it will not harm him. But he who has a cold stomach, he should boil hemp in water and, after pressing out the water, wrap it in a small cloth. And he should lay it upon his stomach often while thus warm, and this will strengthen him and bring him back to his condition.
[Quoted in Christian Rätsch, Marijuana Medicine. A World Tour of the Healing and Visionary Powers of Cannabis. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press, 2001, p. 108. Google Books

von Bingen, Hildegard (1098-1179), Physia. Of Hemp.

Mallevs Maleficarvm

Original Latin

Kramer (Institoris), Heinrich (c. 1430-1505), Mallevs Maleficarvm in Tres Divisvs Partes. James Sprenger, author. Frankfurt am Main: Nicolaum Bassaeum, 1580. Cornell Witchcraft Collecction

Malleus Maleficarum

Montague Summers translation. A tedious and misogynist tract.

Kramer (Institoris), Heinrich (c. 1430-1505), Malleus Maleficarum. (The Witch Hammer). Montague Summers, translator. 1486.

Pharmacology of Cannabis Indica

The missing study referred to by Abel 1980.

De Pasquale, A., “Farmacognosia della Canape indiana. [Pharmacology of Cannabis Indica.”. Lavori Istituto Farmacognosia Università Messina, 1967.

Pharmacology of Cannabis Indica. II.

Referred to in “Micromorphology”:
In a previous study, using a light microscope, we observed how, in addition to the capitate glandular hairs, there were other hairs – sessile hairs or hairs with very short stalks – present on the bract covering the female flower –

De Pasquale, A., “Farmacognosia della Canape indiana. II. Ricerche morfologiche. [Pharmacology of Cannabis Indica. II. Morphological research]”. Lavori Istituto Farmacognosia Università Messina, 6: 9, 1970.

De Pasquale report on electron microscopy

Institute of Pharmacology and Pharmacognosy, University Messine, Italy

De Pasquale, A., “Ultrastructure of the cannabis sativa glands”. Planta Medica, 25(3), 1974. Thieme


The electron scanning microscope is of great use in pharmacognosy because it enables valuable contributions to be made to the study of the micromorphology of the superficial tissues of drugs.

1. A. De Pasquale (1970 a). “Farmacognosia della Canape indiana. II. Ricerche morfologiche”. Lavori Istituto Farmacognosia Università Messina , 6: 9.

A. De Pasquale (1970 b). “Prime osservazioni al microscopio ellettronico sulla Canape indiana”. Lavori Istituto Farmacognosia Università Messina , 6: 1.

De Pasquale, A., Micromorphology of the epidermic surfaces of female plants of Cannabis sativa L.. 1974. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Pope Innocent VIII condemned cannabis

Invariably, whenever medieval artists turned to the subject of the Witches’ Sabbath, they depicted a group of women, who were usually naked, compounding a mysterious drug in a large cauldron. As early as the fifteenth century, demonologists declared that one of the main constituents that the witches compounded for their heinous ceremony was hemp.

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal fiat condemning witchcraft and the use of hemp in the Satanic mass. [4] In 1615, an Italian physician and demonologist, Giovanni De Ninault, listed hemp as the main ingredient in the ointments and unguents used by the devil’s followers. [5] Hemp, along with opium, belladonna, henbane, and hemlock, the demonologists believed, were commonly resorted to during the Witches’ Sabbath to produce the hunger, ecstasy, intoxication, and aphrodisia responsible for the glutinous banquets, the frenzied dancing, and the orgies that characterized the celebration of the Black Mass. Hemp seed oil was also an ingredient in the ointments witches allegedly used to enable them to fly. [6]

Jean Wier, the celebrated demonologist of the sixteenth century, was quite familiar with the exhilarating effects of hemp for sinister purposes. Hemp, he wrote, caused a loss of speech, uncontrollable laughter, and marvelous visions. Quoting Galen, he explained that it was capable of producing these effects by “virtue of affecting the brain since if one takes a large enough amount the vapors destroy the reason.” [7]

4. A. De Pasquale, “Farmacognosia della ‘Canape Indiana'”, Estratto dai Lavori dell’Instituto di Farmacognosia dell’Universita di Messina 5 (1967): 24.

5. Ibid. Cf. also, Cornelius Agrippa, De Oculta Philosphia (n.d.), vol 43; and Pierre d’Alban, Heptameron seu Elementa Magica (1567), p. 142.

6. P. Kemp, The Healing Ritual, (London: Faber and Faber, 1935), pp. 57, 198.

7. Quoted in De Pasquale, “Farmacognosia”, p. 24.

Abel, Ernest L., Marijuana – The First Twelve Thousand Years. 1980. Ch. 5. Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Rabelais and hemp

In the next century, the French writer and physician François Rabelas wrote at length about cannabis, calling it Pantagruelion. Pantagruelion, says Rabelais, “is sown at the first coming of the swallows, and is taken out of the ground when the grasshoppers begin to get hoarse.” Its stalk is “full of fibers, in which consist the whole value of the herb” (italics mine). Following Pliny, he declares that the seeds produced by the male plant “destroy the procreative germs in whosoever should eat much of it or often.” Referring to Galen, he says, “still it is of difficult concotion, offends the stomach, engenders bad blood, and by its excessive heat acts upon the brain and fills the head with noxious and painful vapors.”

If Rabelais knew anything about the effects of cannabis, he did not record them. Proably he did not. Beyond what he recorded from these classical sources, it is unlikely the Rabelais was in any way familiar with cannabis as a medicament or as a psychoactive agent.

Abel, Ernest L., Marijuana – The First Twelve Thousand Years. 1980. p. 106. Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Forbidden lust

In Switzerland, the hemp fields in the allmend (the collective fields of a community) were once the site for various pagan and erotic rituals that the authorities interpreted as “witches’ dances” or the “witches’ sabbath.”

Quoted in Rätsch, Christian, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants. Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications. Simon and Schuster, 2005. Google Books

Lussi, Kurt, “Verbotene Lust: Nächtliche Tanz und blühende Hanffelder im Luzerner Hexenwesen. [Forbidden pleasure: Nocturnal dance and flowering hemp fields in the Lucerne witches]”. Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness, 4, 1995.

Outlawed by the Pope

Throughout history, the plant’s psychoactive properties have consistently been incorporated into the rites of mystical religions throughout history. In Ancient Western Societies, the Mystery Religions of the Great Mother Goddess utilized hemp in their sacred rites. The use of the hemp’s psychoactive properties persisted in the West as a feature of pagan religions and medicines until the Inquisitions of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries formally outlawed the use of cannabis for religious and medicinal purposes. A few centuries later, Catholic dogma was firmly established by Pope Innocent VIII, when in 1484, he issued a precedent setting bull which clearly labeled the users of cannabis as heretics and worshippers of Satan.Despite persecution against the religious and medicinal use of the drug, hemp remained an agricultural staple in the West, where it was highly valued as a source of fiber and seed. [n. 25] Ironically, after it was formally outlawed by the Pope in 1484, hemp took on a new historical importance.

Ernest L. Abel, Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years (New York: Plenum Press, 1980), p. 61-109

Lupien, John Craig, Unraveling an American Dilemma: The Demonization of Marihuana. 1995. Ch. 1. Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

Malleus Maleficarum does not mention cannabis

The Dominican monks Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger assembled many fairy tales and magic stories, nightmares, hearsay, confessions and accusations and put this all together as factual information in what became the handbook for the witch hunters, examiners, torturers and executioners, called the Malleus Maleficarum, a title which was translated as Hammer of Witches. It was published in 1487, but two years previously the authors had secured a bull from Pope Innocent VIII, authorizing them to continue the witch hunt in the Alps which they had already instituted against the opposition from clergy and secular authorities. They reprinted the bull of December 5, 1484, to make it appear that the whole book enjoyed papal sanction.

A Bull of Innocent VIII said by many to specifically prohibit hemp.

It has been necessarily thus briefly to review this important series of Papal documents to show that the famous Bull Summis desiderantes affectibus, 9 December, 1484, which Innocent VIII addressed to the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum.

Search of  a latin transcription for cannabis or kannabis yields no results.

Search of the transcription of Montague Summer’s translation for hemp or cannabis, the only reference to hemp is a note to Part Iii, Second Head, Question Xiii.

And some also are distinguished by the fact that, after they have admitted their crimes,they try to commit suicide by strangling or hanging themselves

Note by Sommers: “There are recorded many instances of this,” including “John Stewart, a warlock of Irvine, in 1618 “who after confessing, “was fund by the burrow officers, quha went about him stranglit and hangit be the cruik of the dur, with ane tait of hemp (or a string maid of hemp, supposed to haif been his garters, or string of his bonnet) not above the length of two span long.”

“Cannabis” is not found in the transcription of the English translation.

Nyland, Edo, The Witch Burnings – Holocaust Without Equal. Pagan Teahouse, 1997. Biblioteca Pleyades

Witch hunts and the war on weed

During Europe’s dark ages, pagan herbalists and witches, mostly women, used cannabis in their ointments and cures. During a time when illness was equated with evil, these pagans attracted a devout following for their miraculous healing lore. The Catholic Church, threatened by the resurgence of ancient religions and by forms of medicine that challenged their exclusive right to perform healings, gruesomely tortured these women to extract confessions of supposedly satanic allegiance, and then burned them to death in public forums.

Around 1000 AD, in festivals celebrating the love goddess Ostara, Easter bunnies were killed and consumed during orgiastic pagan festivals that involved cannabis. Such are the findings of Dr Christian Rätsch, after studying libraries of ancient German texts. “[Ostara’s] sacred animals, the hares, would be sacrificed and eaten in a communal meal?” he wrote in his book, Marijuana Medicine. “It [was]best washed down with a good hemp beer. Unfortunately, the Bacchanalian orgies that followed fell victim to the Christian Liturgy.”


In fact, cannabis was a common feature of pagan fertility celebrations in the first 1000 years AD. Like Ostara, the love goddesses Freya and Venus were also often worshipped with cannabis offerings. Cannabis was one of the many psychedelic ingredients in the legendary flying ointment of medieval witches, which was known to induce visions. The ingredients were heated in oil, which was then applied to a broomstick and inserted into the vagina during a masturbatory ritual. (note 1) Gallic druids (Holy men of the Gauls) also used cannabis to get high.

Pagan healers, mostly wise women, used cannabis for a number of medicinal benefits. Curiously, some of the earliest evidence of medical-cannabis using pagans comes from the writings of famous Catholic nun and herbalist Hildegard von Bingen of Germany (1098-1179). Hildegard’s self-education included ancient Greek medicine and local pagan folk remedies. From her education with pagan wise women, she learned of cannabis’ healing powers. In her famous work Physia, in an entry titled “Of Hemp”, she writes that “hemp is warm? it is wholesome for healthy people to eat? it can be easily digested, and it diminishes the bad humours and makes the good humours strong.” Curiously, Hildegard also wrote poetry to the “Green Power,” and had strong visions, similar to Joan of Arc, who was accused of using the psychedelic mandrake plant and then burned as a witch. Hildegard von Bingen’s unprecedented influence on the early German pharmacopoeia ensured that cannabis remedies would eventually become common across Europe.

…the herbal painkiller Unguentum Populeum became increasingly popular while the excruciating Black Death ravaged Europe. In 1991, German researcher Herman de Vries revealed that later recipes for this ointment contained cannabis, a potent analgesic for the internal pains caused by the plague. (note 2)

Curiously, as Christian Rätsch notes, the recipe for Unguentum Populeum was exactly the same as that for the flying ointment. The similarity between the flying ointment and the painkiller leads to the conclusion that pagan women were the original source of the popular medicine.


In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII suddenly changed his mind about witches. Until that date, his official position was that they didn’t exist. Now, because of a lengthy papal bull called the Malleus Mallificarum, not only did witches exist, but they were to be persecuted, tortured and killed. Pope Innocent VIII made it well known that witches included midwives and herbalists.

According to Ernest Able, a former scholar of medieval studies at the University of Toronto and author of Marijuana: The First 12,000 Years, Pope Innocent VIII also specifically condemned cannabis in 1484, called the herb “an unholy sacrament” of satanic masses, and banned its use as a medicine. Too bad the pope didn’t have the good sense to burn cannabis in a bowl instead of witches at the stake.

That same year the pope also banned literature, like George Gifford’s, that made fun of the church, saying such works were “a mass of the travesty.” In The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Jack Herer speculates that these prohibitions were also intended to stop people who were high on cannabis from laughing uncontrollably at the ridiculous excesses of the church.


Demonologists who sprang up in abundance to combat the sudden scourge of witches after 1484 often found cannabis and other psychedelics in the pantries of those they branded “witches.”

In 1615, the Italian physician Giovanni De Ninault, who persecuted witches in his spare time, listed cannabis, belladonna, henbane and hemlock as common ingredients in what was known as “flying ointment” when inserted in the vaginas of witches, and as Unguentum Populeum when used to treat painful maladies. According to De Ninault, these ingredients were carried in hemp seed oil, which would have been an excellent solvent for their mind-expanding and pain-killing alkaloids.

The psychedelic plants mandrake, datura and monkshood were also likely ingredients in the flying ointment and in the medicinal Unguentum Populeum. In fact, just about any psychedelic plant or fungus that might be found in Europe at that time is likely to have been used by herbal loremasters in their brews and ointments.


What pagan-haters called “orgies with the devil” were actually fertility rites to the love goddesses of the various pagan sects across Europe, at which cannabis was used as an aphrodisiac to inspire communal lovemaking. In an interview with Cannabis Culture, entheobotanist Christian Rätsch spoke about the cannabis prohibitions against sexuality embodied by Ostara worship, in which pagans quaffed barrels of psychoactive beer.

“The old Germans were really fond of their beer,” said Rätsch. “But it was brewed by women and these women used all kinds of herbs in the brewing process including hemp and henbane, and these beers were always related to pagan ritual and to fertility and of course to sex an so on. And this whole thing was suppressed by the Catholic Church in the time of the witch hunts, and the Germans passed out a law against brewing beer with any other herbs but hops.”

“There were also some cases from Switzerland in the records of the Inquisition, when locals harvested the cannabis fields. Young women got very high on cannabis fumes and they started to dance naked in the cannabis field to be observed by boys, who were old enough to marry. In the 17th Century, the church called these erotic harvest rituals ‘witches’ sabbaths’ and tried to suppress them.”

In his 1996 book Verboten Lust, Kurt Lussi describes how young female devotees of the Norse love goddess, Freya, would steal away to the cannabis fields at night to make a wreath of hemp, which they would throw onto a tree bough, while being watched by local boys an early pagan form of innocent courtship that was captured in the records of the Inquisition as a satanic ritual.

In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII suddenly changed his mind about witches. Until that date, his official position was that they didn’t exist. Now, because of a lengthy papal bull called the Malleus Mallificarum, not only did witches exist, but they were to be persecuted, tortured and killed. Pope Innocent VIII made it well known that witches included midwives and herbalists.

According to Ernest Able [sic], a former scholar of medieval studies at the University of Toronto and author of Marijuana: The First 12,000 Years, Pope Innocent VIII also specifically condemned cannabis in 1484, called the herb “an unholy sacrament” of satanic masses, and banned its use as a medicine.

Damuzi, Reverend, Witch hunts and the war on weed. 2002. Cannabis Culture

Hemp outlawed as heretical

In 1231, Pope Gregory IX initiated the Holy Inquisition, its aim to root out and destroy the heresies of the previous two centuries. Hemp, being regarded as sorcerous, was outlawed as heretical. Those who used it, whether for medical purposes or divination, were branded as witches who, in turn, were considered heretics. The persecution of witches across Europe commenced in earnest in 1484, with the publication of a papal bull issued by Pope Innocent VIII entitled Summis Desiderantes.

[no sources cited]

Booth, Martin (1944-2004), Cannabis: a history. London: Doubleday, 2003. p. 92. Google Books

The Popes hate dope

In January 1997, a Pope-approved statement issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family claimed that legalizing drugs would be akin to legalizing murder, and also called for the banning of tobacco.
These statements are consistent with the Catholic Church’s longstanding policy of official hatred for marijuana and other medicinal and psychoactive herbs. Catholic Popes have been viciously persecuting users of medicinal plants virtually since the formation of the Church.
For much of Europe’s history, the Roman Catholic Church was fighting wars of destruction against many “heretical” sects. In many cases, these so-called heretics had rediscovered the herbal sacraments like mushrooms and cannabis, and were ruthlessly exterminated for their use of these powerful plants.


The Pope who launched the most vicious of the Catholic Church’s many campaigns against herb users was Pope Innocent VIII (1432-1492). In 1484 he issued a papal bull called “Summis desiderantes” which demanded severe punishments for magic and witchcraft, which at the time usually meant the use of medicinal and hallucinogenic herbs. Indeed, the papal bull specifically condemned the use of cannabis in worship instead of wine.
The principles Pope Innocent VIII outlined became the basis for the terrifying and torturous witch-hunters’ handbook, the Malleus Maleficarum (1487).
Further, Pope Innocent VIII was a major supporter of the vicious Inquisition, and in 1487 he appointed the infamous and sadistic Spanish friar Torquemada as Grand Inquisitor. Under Torquemada’s authority, thousands of traditional female healers, users of forbidden plants, Jews, and other “heretics” were viciously tortured and killed during the “witch-hunts” of the Spanish Inquisition. This reign of terror gripped Europe well into the 17th Century.


Clearly, not all Catholics have supported their Church’s war on cannabis. During the middle ages, the most famous Catholic voice in support of marijuana was a French monk and author named Rabelais (1495-1553).
Although Rabelais’ classic books Gargantua and Pantagruel superficially appear to be merely a bawdy tale about a noble giant and his son, a deeper reading reveals a telling parody of Church and State, and contains many detailed and positive references to cannabis, which Rabelais dubbed “The Herb Pantagreulion” to avoid persecution.
Yet Rabelais still suffered for his written work in support of marijuana. He was harassed and persecuted by the Church, and the chapters that most specifically refer to marijuana (Book 3, chap 49-52) were banned by the Catholic Church. The power of this censorship has lasted for centuries, as even in many modern translations of Pantagruel these chapters are omitted.

Larson, Dana, The Popes hate dope. April 2005. Cannabis Culture

Malleus Maleficarum

The Malleus Maleficarum,[2] usually translated as the ,[3][a] is the best known and the most thorough treatise on witchcraft.[6][7] It was written by the discredited Catholic clergyman Heinrich Kramer (under his Latinized name Henricus Institoris) and first published in the German city of Speyer in 1487.[8] It endorses extermination of witches and for this purpose develops a detailed legal and theological theory.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15] It was a bestseller, second only to the Bible in terms of sales for almost 200 years.[16] It has been described as the compendium of literature in demonology of the fifteenth century.[17] The top theologians of the Inquisition at the Faculty of Cologne condemned the book as recommending unethical and illegal procedures, as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrines of demonology.[18]
The Malleus elevates sorcery to the criminal status of heresy and prescribes inquisitorial practices for secular courts in order to extirpate witches. The recommended procedures include torture to effectively obtain confessions and the death penalty as the only sure remedy against the evils of witchcraft.[19][20] At that time, it was typical to burn heretics alive at the stake[21] and the Malleus encouraged the same treatment of witches. The book had a strong influence on culture for several centuries.[b]
Jacob Sprenger’s name was added as an author beginning in 1519, 33 years after the book’s first publication and 24 years after Sprenger’s death;[25] but the veracity of this late addition has been questioned by many historians for various reasons.[26][25]
Kramer wrote the Malleus following his expulsion from Innsbruck by the local bishop, due to charges of illegal behavior against Kramer himself, and because of Kramer’s obsession with the sexual habits of one of the accused, Helena Scheuberin, which led the other tribunal members to suspend the trial.[27]
It was later used by royal courts during the Renaissance, and contributed to the increasingly brutal prosecution of witchcraft during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Wikipedia. Wikipedia

Posted 4 March 2019. Modified 14 March 2019.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.