Like many works of ancient literature, The Kama Sutra can be read a few different ways: you can view it as a window into the mind-set and customs of a long-departed culture, or you can take it to be a straightforward how-to guide to pretzel sex. But the two-millennia-old Hindu text also contains some spells that could be useful for women (and men) of any era. Here are some excerpts (something you should know, if you don’t, is that yoni means “vagina”):
Illustrations by Julia Scheele
If used by a woman, an ointment made of the flowers of the Nauclea cadamba, the hog plum, and the Eugenia jambolana, can cause her to be disliked by her husband. The older you are, the more you realize that there are real-world uses for this sort of unguent.
A woman who hears a man playing on a reed pipe that has been dressed with the juices of the bahupadika plant, the Tabernaemontana coronaria, the Costus speciosus, or arabicus, the Pinus deodara, the Euphorbia antiquorum, the vajra, and the kantaka plant, becomes his slave.
An ointment made of the fruit of the Asteracantha longifolia will contract the yoni of a hastini, or elephant woman. This contraction lasts for one night.
If lac is saturated seven times in the sweat of the testicle of a white horse and then applied to a red lip, the lip will become white.
An ointment made by pounding the roots of the Nelumbrium speciosum, the blue lotus, and the powder of the plant Physalis flexuosa mixed with ghee and honey, will enlarge the yoni of the mrigi, or deer woman.
If food be mixed with the fruit of the thorn apple it causes intoxication.
An ointment made of the fruit of the Emblica myrabolans and soaked in the milky juice of the milk-hedge plant, the soma plant, Calotropis gigantea, and the juice of the fruit of the Vernonia anthelmintica will make the hair white.
If yellow myrabolans, the hog plum, the shrawana plant, and the priyangu plant be all pounded together and applied to iron pots, these pots become red.
If a lamp, trimmed with oil extracted from the shrawana and priyangu plants, its wick being made of cloth and the slough of the skins of snakes, is lighted and long pieces of wood placed near it, those pieces of wood will resemble so many snakes.
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