* It is interesting that in central Europe, in particular, the toad is identified with the womb or uterus, and toad effigies of metal and other materials are placed in churches as votive offerings to help women to conceive or get
them through a difficult pregnancy. These beliefs of course predate the introduction of Christianity”
Could be seen as magicoreligious?
“Though widely scattered through the ethnographic literature, the evidence turns out to be surprisingly substantial, beginning with an early Colonial account by the English Dominican friar Thomas Gage, who reported in the mid-seventeenth century that the Pokoman Maya of
Guatemala had the habit of not just adding tobacco to their fermented ritual drink but also poisonous toads to give it a special potency (Thompson, 1970)! This evidently ancient practice, which managed to survive into modern times, may explain the large quantity of
skeletal remains of Bufo marinus which the Yale archaeologist Michael D. Coe found at the important Olmec ceremonial site of San Lorenzo, in Veracruz, Mexico, dating to 1250- 900 BC (Coe, 1971). In view of the toad’s high poison content and its sacred stature, Bufo would hardly have served the Olmecs as ordinary food. But as animal manifestation of the
Earth Mother the toad could well have entered into magicoreligious inebriationóas much, perhaps, for symbolic as for pharmacological considerations .
Preparations of Bufo marinus poison apparently still play a role in the pharmacopoeias of some few indigenous curanderos (curers) in Veracruz, who claim that the secret techniques by which the venom is extracted and processed into pills and potions have been passed
down to them through the generations from older masters, customarily their own fathers. It is said that the toad is never killed or harmed but only irritated gently to make it release its poison from the prominent parotid glands characteristic of the species. The poison is collected in small bowls and subjected to repeated treatment over fire to remove or reduce
the harmful elements before being hardened. It is then rolled into pills for later use, love magic being one of the reported purposes. (T. Knab, personal communication)
One of the most unusual of theseóand one that certainly typifies transformation and the power of frogs to bring it aboutóis tapirage, a curious practice involving the use of frog or toad poison to cause a change in the natural plumage of parrots. As described in the
Handbook of South American Indians (Steward, ed., 1963: Vol. 1, 265, 275, 424; Vol. 3, 102, 414; Vol. 6, 384, 397), in tapirage the feathers are plucked from a living bird and a small quantity of the extremely potent poison of Dendrobates tinctorius or some other venomous species is rubbed on the wound, which is then sealed with wax. When new
feathers appear they do so in a color different from the original ones, yellow and red
replacing green, for example. According to Gilmore (in Steward, ed., 1963: Vol. 6, 407- 408), the poisonous secretion of the toad (Bufo marinus) is also used in this manner. Tapirage has been reported independently over the past two centuries from the Guianas, the Gran Chaco, Brazil, Venezuela, and Bolivia, but some zoologists have tended to doubt
that the poison really plays any but a magical or symbolic role in the process. Instead they
assume that a change in the diet of the captured birds is more likely to be responsible. Scores of Indian tribes from the Atlantic to the Andes believe otherwise.
In alchemy, the
black toad represents the first matter. By uniting with the eagle, the toad
is then purified and transformed into the winged toad.
n Devonshire, the hind leg of a dried toad
was placed in a silk bag and worn around the patient’s neck to cure the
The Cambridgeshire Toadmen have perhaps the most extensive history with the
toad as they continued their practices up until the 1930’s. The Toadmen were
said to have complete power over any horse. They acquired this power through
an eleborate ritual which involved skinning a toad and then allowing the ants
to eat the bones clean. The bones were then carried by the Toadman in his
pocket until they dried. Then, on a full-moon night, he would take the bones
and cast them into a stream of running water. The bones would then scream and
one of them float upstream and leave the others. The Toadman would then
quickly capture this bone and take it to either a graveyard or stable for
three more nights. Then he would be subjected to a final tests where the
Devil himself would attempt to make the man give up the bone. If the Toadman
retained the bone he would be granted all of the powers that he had so
diligently worked for.
Who’s made himself distinguished and rich with the aid
Of a brief roll of paper, and a moist signet ring?
When a powerful lady is next, who mixes in dried toad’s
Venom, while offering her husband mellow Calenian wine,
Improves on Lucusta, by teaching her simple neighbours
How to bury their skin-blotched husbands to public acclaim.
ults use the same location year after year and over 80% of males marked as juveniles have been found to return to the pond at which they were spawned.
The males mount the females’ backs, grasping them with their fore limbs under the armpits in a grip that is known as amplexus. The males are very enthusiastic, will try to grasp fish or inanimate objects and often mount the backs of other males. Sometimes several toads form a heap, each male trying to grasp the female at the base. It is a stressful period and mortality is high among breeding toads. A successful male stays in amplexus for several days and, as the female lays a long, double string of small black eggs, he fertilises them with his sperm. As the pair wander piggyback around the shallow edges of the pond, the gelatinous egg strings, which may contain 3000 to 6000 eggs and be 3 to 4.5 metres (10 to 15 ft) in length, get tangled in plant stalks.
Sweet are the uses of adversity
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
“Philosophical training” is the name given to the despicable method by which our budding intellectual development is muffled in a fog of empty phrases. A system of selection of leaders at once unimaginably devilish and narrow-minded trains up its future party bigwigs in the “Castles of the Knightly Order” to become Godless, impudent, and conscienceless exploiters and executioners — blind, stupid hangers-on of the Fuhrer. We “Intellectual Workers” are the ones who should put obstacles in the path of this caste of overlords.
At this period, after his long fast, the toad has a very spiritual look, like a strict Anglo-Catholic towards the end of Lent. His movements are languid but purposeful, his body is shrunken, and by contrast his eyes look abnormally large. This allows one to notice, what one might not at another time, that a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature. It is like gold, or more exactly it is like the golden-coloured semi-precious stone which one sometimes sees in signet-rings, and which I think is called a chrysoberyl.
For a few days after getting into the water the toad concentrates on building up his strength by eating small insects. Presently he has swollen to his normal size again, and then he goes through a phase of intense sexiness. All he knows, at least if he is a male toad, is that he wants to get his arms round something, and if you offer him a stick, or even your finger, he will cling to it with surprising strength and take a long time to discover that it is not a female toad. Frequently one comes upon shapeless masses of ten or twenty toads rolling over and over in the water, one clinging to another without distinction of sex. By degrees, however, they sort themselves out into couples, with the male duly sitting on the female’s back. You can now distinguish males from females, because the male is smaller, darker and sits on top, with his arms tightly clasped round the female’s neck. After a day or two the spawn is laid in long strings which wind themselves in and out of the reeds and soon become invisible. A few more weeks, and the water is alive with masses of tiny tadpoles which rapidly grow larger, sprout hind-legs, then forelegs, then shed their tails: and finally, about the middle of the summer, the new generation of toads, smaller than one’s thumb-nail but perfect in every particular, crawl out of the water to begin the game anew.
t. His short poem The Vision  describes an alchemical process veiled in symbols. The Toad first drinks “juice of Grapes” until it is so filled up that “casts it Venom” and “begins to swell” as a result of poisoning. Then the Toad dies in its “Cave” and the usual sequence of colour changes follows: black, various colours, white and red. Thus the Venom is changed into powerful Medicine.
After the sorts of winters we have had to endure recently, the spring does seem miraculous, because it has become gradually harder and harder to believe that it is actually going to happen. Every February since 1940 I have found myself thinking that this time winter is going to be permanent
But Persephone, like the toads, always rises from the dead at about the same moment.
o put it more precisely, is it politically reprehensible, while we are all groaning, or at any rate ought to be groaning, under the shackles of the capitalist system, to point out that life is frequently more worth living because of a blackbird’s song, a yellow elm tree in October, or some other natural phenomenon which does not cost money and does not have what the editors of left-wing newspapers call a class angle?
. One is that any pleasure in the actual process of life encourages a sort of political quietism. People, so the thought runs, ought to be discontented, and it is our job to multiply our wants and not simply to increase our enjoyment of the things we have already. The other idea is that this is the age of machines and that to dislike the machine, or even to want to limit its domination, is backward-looking, reactionary and slightly ridiculous. This is often backed up by the statement that a love of Nature is a foible of urbanized people who have no notion what Nature is really like. Those who really have to deal with the soil, so it is argued, do not love the soil, and do not take the faintest interest in birds or flowers, except from a strictly utilitarian point of view. To love the country one must live in the town, merely taking an occasional week-end ramble at the warmer times of year.
This last idea is demonstrably false. Medieval literature, for instance, including the popular ballads, is full of an almost Georgian enthusiasm for Nature, and the art of agricultural peoples such as the Chinese and Japanese centre always round trees, birds, flowers, rivers, mountains. The other idea seems to me to be wrong in a subtler way. Certainly we ought to be discontented, we ought not simply to find out ways of making the best of a bad job, and yet if we kill all pleasure in the actual process of life, what sort of future are we preparing for ourselves? If a man cannot enjoy the return of spring, why should he be happy in a labour-saving Utopia? What will he do with the leisure that the machine will give him? I have always suspected that if our economic and political problems are ever really solved, life will become simpler instead of more complex, and that the sort of pleasure one gets from finding the first primrose will loom larger than the sort of pleasure one gets from eating an ice to the tune of a Wurlitzer. I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and–to return to my first instance–toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.
The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.
“To study chemistry at Munich, you had to pass a strict entrance exam and he invited a group of Jewish students to sit it at his house,” Wieland’s grandson says. “At the end, he wrote down that they had passed, wrote them each a letter of recommendation, gave them a sum of his own money and said, ‘Now you disappear to the United States.’ And they escaped, and went on to become successful scientists themselves.”
For Jewish students who were unable to escape, Wieland offered places in his laboratory, aware that it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to study. He even went to the authorities personally, insisting that it was imperative to his research efforts that they were allowed to work with him.
“At that time students were extremely vital to any lab as there were no machines, so everything had to be done by hand,” Wieland’s grandson says. “Of course, it was not a problem to get students but not many Nazis were in Wieland’s intake. It was quite open that he was anti-Nazi but as he had a Nobel prize, he felt it was manageable to have that stance. But you never know just how close he was to being in danger.”
Maugre thy strength, youth, place, and eminence,
Despite thy victor sword and fire-new fortune,
Thy valour and thy heart- thou art a traitor;
False to thy gods, thy brother, and thy father;
Conspirant ‘gainst this high illustrious prince;
And from th’ extremest upward of thy head
To the descent and dust beneath thy foot,
A most toad-spotted traitor.
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I would not change it.
! I had rather be a toad,
And live upon the vapour of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love
For others’ uses.
But there, where I have garner’d up my heart,
Where either I must live, or bear no life;
The fountain from the which my current runs,
Or else dries up; to be discarded thence!
Or keep it as a cistern for foul toads
To knot and gender in!
‘Why should the worm intrude the maiden bud?
Or hateful cuckoos hatch in sparrows’ nests?
Or toads infect fair founts with venom mud?
Or tyrant folly lurk in gentle breasts?
Or kings be breakers of their own behests?
But no perfection is so absolute,
That some impurity doth not pollute.
I must eat my dinner.
This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first,
Thou strokedst me and madest much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in’t, and teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee
And show’d thee all the qualities o’ the isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile:
Cursed be I that did so! All the charms
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!
For I am all the subjects that you have,
Which first was mine own king: and here you sty me
In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me
The rest o’ the island.
I do hate a proud man, as I hate the engendering of toads.
n 1966, however, a letter to a Senator appears to
have brought the Barbie matter to the fore. In mid-June
1966 (the letter is undated), Sandra S. Zanik of
Rockville Center, New York, wrote to Senator Jacob
Javits as follows:
Dear Senator Javits,
As my husband and I were watching television
last Sunday nite, on the Frank McGee report of .B.C. Television News a shocking fact was brought
to our attention.
It concerned two brothers, Alfred & Henery
[sic] Newton, who now live in Kent, England. These
two men were members of the British Secret Service
during World War II.
They told of their tortures by the Gestapo
after being captured in France. According to these
two brothers, their cheif [sic] torturer is now a
prosperous business-man in Munich Germany. They
state that this man is now working as an agent for
the U.S.A., and France. It seems that he has
political protection and cannot be touched.
For serving their country, the Newtons were
left sick and crippled, while their torturer is now
on our payroll. It would seem to me that Justice
is not being served.
I would like to know why a man can go free
after killing & torturing. This is a very odd
situation. I’m wondering how many more people such
as this are on the United states payroll or getting
rich from us.
I would appreciate a reply or some sort of
action on this matter. * * *
BARBIE was born in TRIER, Germany in 1913. He was
a high official in the Gestapo, and in charge of
the entire LYONS, France District, during the
German occupation. He was instrumental in some of
the top German intelliqence operations, 1938–45.
From 1945–47, he was on top of the wanted list, but
was not apprehended. He was in charge of an
underground organization composed of former Gestapo
and SS officers who were hiding from the victors
after the war. Following the war, he was a witness
in several different trials involving war criminals.
He was arrested by the Americans and his
wartime activities were investigated. However, he
was later released because the investigation was
inconclusive. He was recruited to work for US Army
Intelligence in 1948 [sic]. BARBIE’S performance
for US Army Intelligence was outstanding and he was
considered to be one of the most valuable assets
targetted against Soviet Intelligence operations
and the subversive Communist elements in southern
Germany. The French wanted to arrest BARBIE in
1951 [sic] to prosecute him for activities within
France during World War II. To have exposed BARBIE
to interrogation and public trial would not have
been in consonance with accepted clandestine
intelligence operational doctrine. Throughout his
efforts for US Army Intelligence, he was knowledgeable
of high level operations and operational
procedures which would have been compromised.
Through procedures in effect at the time, BARBIE
was therefor [sic] assisted in 1951 in leaving
Europe for resettlement. US Army Intelligence has
had no further contact with BARBIE subsequent to
his departure from Europe.
At the time of his visits in 1969 and 1970, Klaus
Altmann was manager of Transmaritima Boliviana S.A., a
Bolivian shipping corporation formed in 1968. According
to Bolivian officials questioned in this investigation,
51% of the stock of Transmaritima Boliviana (TMB) was
owned by the government of Bolivia, 49% was owned by
private investors. TMB was formed as part of an effort
to creat a shipping industry in Bolivia, and it was
authorized to ship cargoes from foreign ports to Bolivia
in leased ships.
In 1969, TMB’s