It's a myth, you know, that witches fly through the summer night on broomsticks. The broomstick is only a prop, says Betty Wylder. What is is the belladonna.
"What the witches do," Wylder says, "is mix up some 'flying ointment'--wormwood, belladonna (or, as the witches call it, deadly nightshade), wolfbane and hemlock. Blend it with hog's fat and stomp it, the way you stomp grapes for wine. Then rub it on the naked skin. . . ."
If anyone knows, Wylder knows. Stalwart of, and occasional speaker for, the Long Beach Herb Society, Wylder is something of an expert on the more occult uses of herbs--"all tongue-in-cheek, of course, though you never know." She offers the following household herb hints based on her studies:
To rid the house of evil spirits, she advises, "scrub the floor with rue. It'll probably get rid of you, too, since it's the worst-smelling plant in the garden.
"Parenthetically, rue is also one of the ingredients of Chanel No. 5. Oh, and if you have dinner guests you don't want to return, sprinkle a little rue on their food."
Parsley may sweeten the breath but it is hard to grow, Wylder adds, because it involves trips to the devil. Basil presents a similar problem, "since it's associated with hatred and vituperation. What you do is shout words of abuse as you plant it. Your neighbors may have you committed, but the basil will thrive."
Wheeler Dealer: It's a Steal
If you really must leave your car keys in the ignition, Monday is as good a day as any to do it, and better than most.
To focus attention on the traditional summer surge in auto thefts--and, not so incidentally, to give a little shove to sales--Sheldon Kirshner, president of Anes Electronics in Marina del Rey, will give away a steering wheel locking device (retail value $25) to anyone in California whose car is stolen Monday.
"August historically is the month most cars are stolen," says Kirshner. "3,700 a day, nationally, in August of 1987. Young people are out of school, people are traveling more. I mean, when it's cold and snowy you're less likely to go out and mess with a car."
By far the prime contributing factor to car theft, Kirshner says, is simply "people leaving an unattended car with the keys in the ignition, or 'hidden' under the seat or behind the sun visor. Someone walks by, sees the key, drives it off. No, they don't pick locks much. With a Slim Jim someone can get into the car in less than five seconds and be driving it away in less then 10."
Would Kirshner's device prevent robbery? "I'm not saying it can't be defeated. Anything can be defeated. But it'll sure slow 'em down long enough to get 'em nervous. . . ."
In any case, if your car is boosted Tuesday, and you're looking for your free wheel-locking device, send name, address and a copy of the police report to Anes, 4112 Del Rey Ave., Marina del Rey, Calif. 90292.
What you're going to do with it is something you'll have to figure out yourself.