Thujone and Harry Potter
“You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potion-making,” he began….”As there is little foolish wand-waving here, many of you will hardly believe this is magic. I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses….I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death….”“Potter!” said Snape suddenly. “What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?””For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite.
What is thujone you may ask? It is the terpene found in Artemisia absinthium. Sound boring? ..think again. It has had a controversial history, and even today can cause a furious response! Most recently wicked old thujone created outrage amongst the relgious right simply because of it’s inclusion in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
“Harry Potter and his wizard friends lie, steal, break rules, disobey authority figures, and take revenge. Harry Potter also makes and uses drug potions, including the psychedelic drug thujone, which has been banned in the United States since 1915“ Here we go
“The wizards practice Hindu-type meditation “to clear the Inner Eye.” There is swearing and violence. A three-headed dog mangles the leg of a professor; a mysterious figure drinks blood from a unicorn carcass; children are attacked and paralyzed; a dead cat is hung upside down by its tail. There are creatures called Dementors that “suck out people’s souls.” There are ghosts who haunt bathroom toilets.”
Here is the pasage:
“I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses … I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death – if you aren’t as big a bund of thunderheads as I usually have to teach. – The Potions Master.”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, p. 137
Did I forget to mention that thujone is the reason why absinthe is banned in the USA?
British book chain WH Smith has seen over 20,000 copies of a back catalogue paperback fly out of its 600 stores in five hours following the release of the final Harry Potter novel. To the surprise of staff, copies of Wormwood by GP Taylor, which had been chosen as “The perfect partner for Harry Potter,” disappeared from the shelves