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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 3:46 am    Post subject: Combat enhancing folk recipes         Reply with quote

I'm trying to compile a list of superstitious folk recipes that are mentioned in the sources for enhancing combat. I'm not after poisons but magical remedies: pastes that improve armour or weapons; potions that make a warrrior fight better; shaman rituals, and so on. Ideally I'm after the actual recipe for making it, not just a mention of it in a text.

This is an example of what I'm looking for: The Lion-Armour of the T'ang - you paint your armour with it and it is supposed to render it impenetrable. Here is a rough translation of the Chinese recipe:

"First, 5 catties of the 'plant penetrating into the bones' (t'ou ku ts'ao) and 3 catties of radish-seeds are mixed into a mash which is placed in 100 catties of water and boiled till it bubbles 200 times. The residue is removed, and 5 scales of the pangolin are added; further, 3 catties of salt of ta-t'ung, 3 catties of saltpetre, 5 taels of stony nitre, and half a catty of sal-ammoniac. This mixture is tightly shut up in a cauldron, and boiled for a day and night. Then the cauldron is opened, and the mass is beaten with a leather ladle."

A catty is about 1⅓ pound. There are 16 taels in a catty.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seas...clues.html
The mushrooms mentioned at the bottom were supposed to give the warrior enhanced fighting abilities. I saw this on TV and they demonstrated this using two martial artist, giving only one the drugs, and it seemed to make a difference.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seas...clues.html
The mushrooms mentioned at the bottom were supposed to give the warrior enhanced fighting abilities. I saw this on TV and they demonstrated this using two martial artist, giving only one the drugs, and it seemed to make a difference.


Ok, if this is where you want to lead us. There's pervitin (German blitzkrieg drug) alias speed (modern techno application). Just go to the next techno event and ask people about suitable stuff.
Amphetamine was for similar reasons developed for the Luftwaffe (and the Führer) and khat used by the Somali pirates is chemically closely related with many shared effects.
Let's not forget alcohol that can make you aggressive.
Personally, I'd take a heavy dose of chili ( or whatever they use in Texas for these very spicy chili con carne competitions) with lots of fat and sugar. After ingesting this mixture you really have a drive going for hours (on a lower level than amphetamines) with a bit enhanced libido, but full mental functions and reactions. It's not as bad as after throwing an onion into the apes' cage in the zoo.

In my opinion the effect of drugs is not so much about enhanced fighting ability, rather you harness yourself to be more enduring, physically and psychologically, for a limited amount of time. This can give you a psychological cutting edge to turn the tide and make the enemy run and get killed while running away. So even magic words can work wonders by a skilled psychologist/manipulator: the "right" history is worth several divisions! was an intern Nazi remark on the value they attributed to their propaganda. If you are fighting armed drug addicts and you're not able to interdict their supply, well, make the fight a long-drawn affair and the drugs will take their toll and reduce enemy skill. I suspect that the right dose of drugs and manipulation has always been part of all armed forces (leading to some cases of US soldiers recently going nuts perhaps?).

In the aforementioned test the participant who had the feeling that some drugs were kicking in possibly told himself that he was enhanced and for this reason had a different psychological attitude in the fight. You need more testing on such an issue.


Last edited by Kurt Scholz on Wed 14 Mar, 2012 9:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I know, there is no reference to the use of mushrooms by berserkers. It is a modern "discovery", which some have proposed as an "scientific explanation" to the berserker phenomenon.
Probably after eating said mushrooms.

Historicaly, magic spells of differnt kinds where a favorite. One famous example is the rune enchanted reindeer coats described in St.Olavs saga. However, this saga has a very "high fantacy" tone, due to the supernatural nature of the hero.
It does however tell us that the Sami people's runic/shamanistic magic was seen as a real power in the 13th century, and indeed later.
Gustav Adolphus was accused of having Sami sorcerers in his army as late as the 30 years war!

While not having access to the Black Book™, I know that there are a number of spells that is supposed to render you imprevious to all kinds of harm.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 9:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richar...injas.html
This is a good summary of the Mai-Mai-"warriors" a long enduring Swahili legend of magic turning bullets into water if observing complicated rituals for life that wreaks havoc in the Congo and not only includes charms, but ritual cannibalism (the film district 9 slightly touched that issue).
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Tjarand Matre




Location: Nøtterøy, Norway
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm with Elling on the magic mushroom issue. Fly agaric or any of the other psychoactive amanitas mushrooms consumed in hallucinogenic doses would most likely leave the fighter in a very placid and peaceful state. Likewise, a hostile situation like battle could possibly induce severe anxiety and panic causing the psychonaut to flee and behave erratic. That could explain the "berserk" part of the myth, but anyone intoxicated by any psychoactive mushroom would be utterly useless in battle.

A pseudo-scientific documentary on amanitas here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEER5ml1WTc
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
Ok, if this is where you want to lead us. .

No it is not where I want this to lead us. I'm perfectly fine with superstitious nonesense but I want examples like the one I posted in the first thread. Even a magical ritual like the creation of the Lakota ghost shirts. The Mai Mai example is a good one.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
One famous example is the rune enchanted reindeer coats described in St.Olavs saga. However, this saga has a very "high fantacy" tone, due to the supernatural nature of the hero..

This is actually the kind of thing I'm after if the texts explain how the enchantment was done.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/previous_seas...clues.html
The mushrooms mentioned at the bottom were supposed to give the warrior enhanced fighting abilities. I saw this on TV and they demonstrated this using two martial artist, giving only one the drugs, and it seemed to make a difference.

They didn't control for the placebo effect. They should have given both fighters the drug but have one of them a placebo.
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
...
Let's not forget alcohol that can make you aggressive.


Sorry about the tangent, but having worked as a bouncer for 10+ years, I can vouch that while alchahol may make one aggressive, it is the exact opposite of combat "enhancing"

With regards to beserkers, I read an interesting study on post traumatic stress dissorder that suggested PTS as the most likely basis for beserks. Only one study, and not the main focus, but an interesting and plausible explanation.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan, they did give one guy a placebo. The guy on the drugs dominated.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 5:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having leafed through one of the collections of Norwegian spells from the 18th-19th century, there are several examples of combat enhancing formulas. Notably to "Gain the upper hand on your worst enemy" or "Sword-letters", making you imprevious to enemy weapons.
As far as I could see, they all of these takes the form of formulas or incantations written on chits of paper that the person should carry on him.

There are also recipies for making you weapon imprevious to rust. Some, like letting the weapon lie in cheap olive oil for a week, might work.
The claim that you can make the weapon imprevious to rust for 30 years crushing magnetic rock, and some other rocks which I can not translate on the fly, and adding them to the oil, is more doubvious.

There are no mention of potions or tonics, nor magic mushrooms.

These spesific examples are from a peacefull farming society, though. An earlier source would probably have more war related stuff.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Changing gears, here's something, (3rd post down) http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=10288 This mention of James Younger wearing a salt brine layered leather vest that would stop a cap and ball revolver is intriguing, but I haven't been able to find any mention of this anywhere. I read James Younger's autobiography and didn't see anything about this. I know that bowie knife duels were popular in the 1800's, and a multi layered vest might come in handy, but against guns I don't know. Has anyone heard of this legend and do you think this could possibly work. And what would the salt brine do?

Also the Ned Kelly armour is kind of cool.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 7:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
With regards to beserkers, I read an interesting study on post traumatic stress dissorder that suggested PTS as the most likely basis for beserks. Only one study, and not the main focus, but an interesting and plausible explanation.


I also find this a plausible explanation. It is something that 'takes' a man rather than something that a man does to himself which I believe is in keeping with some descriptions (though I don't have the literature to hand. Being in combat arms in the Army, I have met and am friends with numerous soldiers being medically retired due to PTSD. Depending on severity, they can be triggered very easily, and depending on the person and trigger, the effects can range from hysteria to an episode from which, quite frankly, neither friend nor foe would be safe. Proper treatment/medication/counseling can limit the effects but I imagine that in a 10th century warrior society, the effects would likely be encouraged rather than discouraged. I also see this in keeping with Berserks being regarded as 'Odin's men' - a power that was given in battle to be used in battle.
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Darrell Engelbrect





Joined: 30 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Mar, 2012 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
As far as I know, there is no reference to the use of mushrooms by berserkers. It is a modern "discovery", which some have proposed as an "scientific explanation" to the berserker phenomenon.
Probably after eating said mushrooms.


I have just the thing for berserking: http://www.uppsalaonline.com/uppsala/somafera...0wild.html

"I speak not against masters of defence indeed, they are to be honored, nor against the science, it is noble, and in my opinion to be preferred next to divinity, for as divinity preserves the soul from hell and the devil, so does this noble science defend the body from wounds & slaughter. And moreover, the exercising of weapons puts away aches, griefs, and diseases, it increases strength, and sharpens the wits. It gives a perfect judgement, it expels melancholy, choleric and evil conceits, it keeps a man in breath, perfect health, and long life. It is unto him that has the perfection thereof, a most friendly and comfortable companion when he is alone, having but only his weapon about him. It puts him out of fear, & in the wars and places of most danger, it makes him bold, hardy and valiant."

George Silver - Paradoxes of Defense
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 16 Mar, 2012 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How about the headband worn by Kamikaze pilots?

Ironically though, death by a kamikaze may mean sucess - living through the attack indicates failure Big Grin
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Mar, 2012 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the japansese tradition, the "good luck belt of 1000 stitches", as seen in "letters from Iwo Jima" is a classic.
"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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David Gaál




Location: Hungary
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Mar, 2012 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

About drugs if I know well fly amanita was used by shamans. Herodotus mentions one group of Scythians who were drinking "haoma" which is a drink made from fly amanita. It is writen that normally 15 caps of this is only deadly for a human under this the poison drives away in a few hours from the body without complication, so this is not so dangerous that couldn't be used.

To fight well in battle I think you shall first put away your fear if you don't fear anymore you will have less block and the best way to do this is to prepare to the fight just think about shaolin...

And the best way to make people warlike: give them a good speech, if you speak well people will follow you to death.

About rituals: I thinks it' s not so easy... This is grounded on belief, religion if you don't believe in it you won't achieve anything. Just think about Islam if you want see religious fanatics. A so called holly sign could be anything but you have to believe in it does not matter that holly cross or the banner of Sigurd Earl or the sword of Attila the hun.
About superstitions: take only the romans. They take really serious the fortune-tellers: they have made almost every time(or every time) before battle fortune telling from birds. Or if they saw an eagle flying over through their foes lines they have fought with more haste but if they saw an eagle flying backwards they were likely to run away. Claudius writes down in his memoir that before Augustus funeral his wife sent people to collect eagles which she let fly away behind Augustus bonfire and nonetheless it was found out, it shows how superstitious these people were.
Or just think about that most of the people fear from thunder today too , and more did it in the past. Genghis Khan khan prohibited his people to show fear from thunder in his laws, as well as I. Stephen of Hungary did it as he was converting his people to christianity.
All in all about this my opinion is that don't use religious symbols for example runes for experiment or anything like that because they are taken seriously by people who believe in it and who say that these could only be used to real aims.

David
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