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Moon Paste

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Was reading a book on Scottish folklore and belief, when reference was made to Isobel Goudie and the making of moon-paste, the formula for which was still current in Morroco and Brittany (the book was written in the 1950s).


So, after extensive googling, which resulted in two pagan-y boards which made only a pssing reference, I know very little about this paste.


Is anyone is a position to enlighten me?

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AC, I found a reference to it in R. A. Gilbert's "The Sorcerer and His Apprentice". Unfortunately, every time I try to open the link, my computer locks up. (I've been having a problem with Internet Explorer recently - Microsoft - a surprise?)


Anyhoo, if you can find one of the several sites that has it and your computer doesn't argue, there might be something there.

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AC, I found a reference to it in R. A. Gilbert's "The Sorcerer and His Apprentice".


Found that. I'm afraid its not your computer, but the Scribd (and other websites) where its listed. When I finally got to look at the reference, it was only to say he had seen it "referenced" in another book "The Devil's Mistress".


The details of the making of Isabel Goudie's moon-paste I have recorded in The Devil's Mistress, the lacunae in the Scottish accounts being supplied from Morocco, the processes being obviously identical. In the trial of Lady Monro of Fowlis, June 22, 1590, the material was clay.


... a quote which is mentioned in other forums, but only to say that there was "reference" to the paste in that book, too. Not the formula, nor any other information on its use in Brittany or Morocco.


It also rates mention in "A Highland Chapbook" by Isabel Cameron (page 97):


Moon paste, perhaps the most mysterious of all magic mediums, is also one of the oldest. The making of it was known and practised in ancient Thessaly; magicians in Morocco and in Brittany knew of it, and except for the language being different, the ideas and forms were the same as were used in Scotland so lately at the end of the seventeenth century. Water from seven wells, herbs gathered at certain phases of the moon, clay taken from a special place, and dried in the fire, and afterwards pounded into fine dust, all played their part in the making of the paste. It required, however, the magic of the full moon, and this could only be got by incantations, sung widdershins, and a most elaborate ritual. This paste could unite sundered lovers; it could cure illness; and if its owner so willed it, it was capable of bringing disaster upon one's enemies; in fact, it was capable of working magic; both black and white.


Again, no reference to which herbs, gathered when, which "special place" to beget the clay, which incantations and so on. I was hoping an historian or local might have further information. ;)

Edited by Ancestral Celt
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You may have more success by researching Gowdie instead of Goudie. She gave a series of confessions in 1662, and was a member of the Auldarne coven.

I know she has been mentioned in the following:

Murray, Margaret. The Witchcult in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921.

Summers, Montague. A History of Demonology and Witchcraft. New York. Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.

Robbins, Russell Hope. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York: Crown, 1970.

You may also like to know that a new book;

The Visions of Isobel Gowdie, by Emma Wilby is due to be released in Jan 2010.


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  • 3 months later...

First off, apologies for overstepping the boundaries on the guest thread. enthusiasm got the better of me.


Second, my last post there was misleading anyway, as the request for expansion was not necessay as this thread clearly shows the purpose of moon paste, which I managed not to take on board in a quite spectacular fashion.


I'm bumping this thread to ask if anyone discovered more about moon paste? Probably not, or they'd have posted? Guess I'll just have to wait for that book on Isobel Gowdie to come out.

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I hear you, Grimr - identifying lunar herbs as they were THEN, rather than what is now could be fun,and I agree with you about the white clay too. Anyone got a geological map handy? :) Identifying the locales with white clay might give a clue to the herbs used, assuming they are native species. The clay mentioned in the book extract is not said to be white but it is the most likely correspondence.

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Ancestral Celt: This moon paste has driven me crazy I have researched at length.. until i feel like my eye balls are bleeding form staring into my computer lol..


I am finding little that would lead to specifics.. but a few things pop up in accordance.. like "special place" i have been having "sacred places" come up.. more so with goudie's name attatched.. given the time frame in which she lived this seems highly plausible.. so researching the sacred places in that area might give you a closer look at the clay aspect.. then again i can't help wondering on one particular issue.. what did they do with placenta's back then?


A refrence to placentas came up when searching.. so i started looking further and the "placenta trees" came across my screen.. i have no idea when this started or where it originated.. but i am wondering if this could have some commonality.. but i am doubting it.. still would be interesting to know what they did with them


if you find anything more on this plleaaasee let me know..



edit* found this:

"Sati, who is both a benevolent and malevolent force, is integral to the communities understanding of disease and problems related to mens­truation, pregnancy and childbirth. Matters regarding the belief in Sati were not really discussed openly as it may have been considered inauspicious and there were no physical images to depict her. As mentioned earlier, this goddess does not belong to the Hindu pantheon but is probably a goddess from the past tribal faith. Belief in Sati even today provides an alternative, religious explanation for the incidence of maternal and infant mortality, and prescribes ritual observances that often run counter to western medicine. Sati had certain places in the village that she haunted and these places were either to be avoided, revered with fear, or visited only during certain occasions for example to throw the clothes of the dead, or the after-birth and clothes of the new born"

page 462

"In the past, apart from a few exceptional cases, the expectant women did not go to their mother’s homes for their confinements, as is the case with other communities in Goa. Right up until four decades ago, all births took place at home and were assisted by a woman attendant (vaigen), the only one permitted to cut the umbilical cord who was not a formally trained birth attendant but to whom the skill was handed down from elders in her family and made perfect with experience. The vaigen then buried the cord outside the house and the place was covered with three palm leaves. This place had to be kept clean or else it could harm the new infant. Her job after delivery was to assist the baanti and baby, for eleven days including with the cere­monial baths on the seventh and eleventh day after birth. On the seventh day the vaigen would throw coconut palm leaves as well as the dried cord/navel at the place allocated for Sati. On the eleventh, the ceremonial bath was followed by a ritual held around the well to purify the baanti and permit her to draw water, which she had been forbidden to since childbirth. The baanti carries a tray (tali) of rice, a cereal (nachne), turmeric (haldi), vermilion (pinzar), betel leaves and areca nut (pan and veedo). She throws pan and veedo into the well along with a few drops of oil and applies haldi, pinzar, cow dung and soot and a paste made of a lentil (urid dhal) on the wall of the well in five different coloured stripes. She draws water from the well and pours water five times on a coconut tree and each time has to look up at the tree. Then she draws another pot and walks straight to her home with it signifying her state made pure once again. The vaigen was later given rice and coconuts and a token amount for her services but it was believed to be inauspicious to deprive the vaigen of anything she asked for."

page 463...

Shalia Desouza, Lusoptopie 2000: 455-468


Edited by WaterWolf83
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Excellent post, WW83...you 'on the case' too? I fear it might be a 'two pipe problem' (hoping you get the reference?)


There's a stone circle near Auldearn to the east, plus a cairn. The local graveyard is where she was supposed to meet the devil. I was looking at geological sites to identify local clays. Not being a geologist, it's heavy going.


Looking at this...


Old County of Nairnshire

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.


...produced all kinds of intersting stuff, but nothing specific or really usable. I did read that her confessions were detailed in Pitcairn's "Scottish Criminal Trials" (1800s?) which is several volumes 'big'...still looking for more precise references.


Anyway, back to the book above, here are some extracts....



"In the middle of the 17th century Nairnshire was celebrated for its witches, the place most infested with them being the neighbourhood of Auldearn. A crazy woman named Isobel Gowdie made, in 1662, a long confession of the delinquencies in this connection of herself and many others. She declared that the body was 'so numerous, that they were told off into squads and covines, as they were termed, to each of which were appointed two officers. One of these was called the Maiden of the Covine, and was usually like Tam o' Shanter's Nannie, a girl of personal attractions whom Satan placed beside himself, and treated with particular attention, which greatly provoked the spite of the old hags, who felt themselves insulted by the preference. When assembled they dug up graves 'to possess themselves of the dead bodies for the purpose of making charms and salves from the bones. They also metamorphosed themselves into different forms-crows, cats, and-hares, seeming to have been those most common-and rode on straws, beanstalks, and rushes, though seemingly more for their own pleasure than on business. Satan, according to poor Isobel's tale, proved but a hard master, scourging and beating them sometimes without mercy, but this notwithstanding they were always ready to obey his behests, and do all kind of harm to their neighbours, stealing their crops, shooting at them with elf-arrows, and forcing their mischievous way into all houses not fenced against them by vigil and prayer."


This next extract shows the variation in colour, so it might not be as easy as I thought to identify the area that was used.


"In the valley of the Nairn, at Clava, Mr Fraser, C.E., Inverness, has obtained marine shells from fine blue clay belonging to this inter-glacial series. The upper part of the section is composed of yellowish boulder clay, consisting of gravel, sand, and stones, with a mixture of clay, which reaches a depth of 45 feet. About 20 feet of sand underlies the boulder clay, and below the fine sand the shelly clay is met with, the bottom of which has not been pierced. A few smooth stones occur in the shelly clay, but they are not so numerous as in ordinary boulder clay. Indeed, from the nature of the deposit, as well as from the state of preservation of the shells, it is evident that these stratified sands and clays indicate a depression of the land in inter-glacial times. "


Local hearsay would have you believe she was burnt at the stake, although others say there is no record of her death at all. I've read her confession was given freely, without the use of torture. Unless I can track down a copy of Pitcairn, it looks like Emma Wilby's book is going to be our last hope.



Found a reference for Pitcairn....published 1833, v.3, p602-12....from an article by Emma Wilby :) she also quotes another citation from v.2 which I believe is online somewhere...brb...

Edited by Marion
WW83's post went up when I wasn't looking.
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I haven't been around for a while, but this moon paste thing certainly got my interrest. There's nothing like a good mystery right?

So I have been googeling this and finding next to nothing. I found another reference to the moon paste in a book that was mentioned before, A Highland Chapbook by Isabel Cameron (page 61). This isn't much but might just be some help on the way:


Witches who had attained a very high standard of their art used, as a medium of black magic, moon paste. As the name implies, this was made by the moon beeing pulled out of the sky. This medium had to be made when the moon was full. Certain herbs had to be pounded and mixed; water taken from seven different wells and the whole thing had to be kneaded in a trough in a kirkyard with chantings and muttered words and turnings innumerable to "widdershins." Images made of this paste were capable of bringing weal or woe according to the wishes of the witch who owned it. Isabel Goudie used it to help Jean Gordon of Gordonstown, but she used the same medium to bring sickness and death to the house of the Laird of Park
The word images in this part of the text makes me think that the paste was used for making images of some kind like dolls maybe, but that's just my theory.



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This is paraphrased from Isobel Gowdie's trial accounts...

"They took an unchristened child which they had raised out of its grave,

parings of their nails,

ears of all sorts of grain,

and cole-wort leaves,

all chopped very fine and small,

and mixed up well together;

and this charm they buried on his land,

whereby they got all the strength of his corn and goods to themselves,

and parted them among the covin."

"Another time they yoked a plough of paddocks (toads).

The devil held it, and John Young drove it :

it was drawn by toads instead of oxen,

the traces were of quickens (dog-grass),

the coulter was a riglen's horn (ram's horn), so was the sock ;

and they went two several times about the field,

all the covin following and praying to the devil to give them the fruit of that land, and that only thistles and briars might grow on it for the master's use."

"The devil gave them to his covin and they shot men and women dead,

right and left. Sometimes they missed,

as when Isobell shot at the Laird of Park as he was crossing the burn,

and missed, for which Bessie Hay gave her a great cuff:

also Margaret Brodie, when she shot at Mr. Harie Forbes, the minister at Auldearne, he being by the standing stanes ;

whereupon she asked if she should shoot again, but the devil answered,

" Not ! for we wold nocht get his lyf at that tym."

Finding the elf-arrows useless against Mr. Harie Forbes,

they tried charms and incantations once when he was sick.

They made a bag, into which they put the flesh, entrails,

and gall of a toad, a hare's liver, barley grains, nail pairings,

and bits of rag, steeping all in water,

while Satan stood over them, saying and they repeating after him

" He is lying in his bed, and he is seik and sair,

Let him lye in till that bedd monthes two and dayes thrie mair !

He sail lye in till his bed, he salbe seik and sair,

He sail lye in till his bedd, monthes two and dayes thrie mair !"

When they said these words they were all on their knees

with their hair about their shoulders and eyes,

holding up their hands to the devil,

beseeching him to destroy Mr. Harry ;

and then it was decided to go into his chamber and swing the bag over him. Bessie Hay Able-and-Stout undertook this office,

and she went to his room, being intimate with him,

the bag in her hands and her mind set on siaying him by its means ;

but there were some worthy persons with him at the time,

so Bessie did no harm, only swung a few drops on him which did not kill him."

From Linton, Witch Tales 1861

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see that part of digging the child up from his grave.. an unchristened child.. would that mean a miscarried baby? a child that died at birth?... hmmmm

makes me wonder what they did with placentas.. umbilical cords.. and other things.. but i am doubting that and moon paste are connected..

ancestral celt any news on this one?

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Umm....we use a preparation that consists of beeswax, water from a variety of sacred places that has been left in the light of the life of the moon (thats a lunar month) as well as specific herbs.......would this be the "moon paste" you are hunting?

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We would use moon paste to create a talisman, a focus of a working, the herbs would vary depending on the moon and the purpose, sorry a lot is oath bound.

To make a moon paste takes a lot of time and effort it is not something used lightly.

I seem to remember the originall query was connected with Isobel Gowdie a farmers wife from the NE of Scotland who was accused of and put to death as a witch. My tradition is based in the NE of Scotland.....but of course don't forget Isobel was most likely an innocent!

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Completely get the oathbound thing, so no apologies necessary. :) Interesting to hear you're in Norfolk, which I immediately associate with toadmen, but follow a NE Scottish tradition (horsemen area). I'm a Highlander by birth and Isobel's locale is VERY local to me. And - if she was an innocent - she had a pretty vivid imagination ;) It's so frustrating to me that up here they don't make more of cases like hers. Look at the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, major tourist attraction and point of information, up here? nada, nothing, zip, zero, zilch...AND we had Crowley for a bit too. Beats me totally. Anyway, apologies for going OT. So, something akin to moon paste is still being used and the exact recipe is oathbound. All good...but also frustrating for a solitary :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I live in Norfolk now but come from the NE of Scotland and the tradition I belong to are still based up there.

If you know the A939...cockbridge to tomintull road then you know the area I'm from!


I know what you mean about not making anything of someone like Isobel.....too much tartan stuff I guess!

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A939...badly hit with flooding of late. I've consoled myself in the wait for Emma Wilby's book by pre-ordering one on the Society of Horsemen, published soon by Caduceus Books :) Does add anything to this thread but I thought I'd mention it..NE Scotland/Norfolk tie-in etc

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  • 4 weeks later...

Saw a copy of "A Highland Chapbook"

...more like a pamphlet!!! Book, my arse. AND it was 16 quid, 2nd edition [antique fair in Nairn, for anyone interested] I was not tempted to part with my hard-earned for such a tiddly little item.....but if it's still there next time, I might offer up a tenner :)
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  • 2 months later...
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Moon paste has been quite a mystery for many centuries. Traditional witches have heard of it and tried to concoct something which they could pass off as moon paste. The term was prevalent in both Scotland and England. I have seen moon paste used in Essex to kill, maim or produce abortions. The North African influence is quite strong in East Anglia and in my opinion what we use as moon paste is probably what the Morrocans used. My highland relatives also had a different concoction which was nothing like what the Essex witches use. It is a mixture of menstual blood, hence the reference to the moon, and semen. Sex has always been the best and quickest way to raise power. It was believed that the magical force of sex plus the power of the moon would impart a tremendous magical impact. This, of course, is only my own understanding and experience of the term. There will always be different recipes for the much-discussed moon paste.

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  • 2 months later...

This thread is really interesting...really enjoyed reading through it. Wish I could offer some of my own thoughts here, but haven't heard of moon paste before this thread


Great topic though & certainly thought provoking, for me at least.




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Saw a copy of "A Highland Chapbook" (quoted above)...more like a pamphlet!!! Book, my arse. AND it was 16 quid, 2nd edition [antique fair in Nairn, for anyone interested] I was not tempted to part with my hard-earned for such a tiddly little item.....but if it's still there next time, I might offer up a tenner :)


Don't! I found a copy online a while back for under a fiver.

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