It's Halloween/Samhain season, and witchy images are everywhere, part of a centuries-long denigration of wise women and the powerful plants they used for healing and divination, including cannabis.
Witch hunts took place in Europe and Colonial America from about 1450 to 1750, resulting in an estimated 35,000 to 50,000 executions. "All of the witch hunts were basically a way for men to keep women away from medicine and the power it conferred," said Simone de Beauvoir. According to For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English, "In Europe the conflict between female lay healing and the medical profession had taken a particularly savage form: centuries-long witch hunts....the target of the witch hunts were, almost exclusively, peasant women, and among them female lay healers were singled out for persecution."
Along with devouring babies and seducing priests, the use of "witches medicines" was a charge often leveled against women accused of witchcraft at the time when healers used ergot (the mold that grows on grains from which LSD is made) for the pain of labor, belladonna to inhibit uterine contractions and prevent miscarriages, and other plant-derived medicines. In 1527, Paracelsus, considered the "father of modern medicine," confessed that he "had learned from the Sorceress all he knew."
Brian Muraresku's 2020 book The Immortality Key unveils "a vast knowledge of drugs that was kept alive through the Dark Ages by pagans and heretics. Until the witches of the world were hunted down for centuries, erasing all memory of the longest-running religion the planet has ever known."