Monday 5 October 2020

Poisonous Herbs: Henbane Root in Witchcraft

I don't think I'd ever seen a henbane root until Matt Xai Malachi Porter sent me this picture, following up on his photos of mandrake roots and a poppet made from one. Matt wrote: "The picture attached is of one of my henbane whole roots that has now gone to sleep for the colder period of the year. I'm planning to make another mammet with this root also and pair it up with the mandrake root as a couple" 

Christina Oakley Harrington writes in The Treadwell's Book of Plant Magic: "Henbane is one of the herbs most deeply associated with witches and witches' potions and dark spells." It is a traditional ingredient of witches' flying ointment, along with mandrake and other highly poisonous herbs. Agrippa wrote that if you draw an image of a person in ink made with henbane juice, you can use that to enchant them. Apparently even placing henbane seeds between a couple will cause them strife.

According to Sandra Lawrence in Witch's Garden, medieval witches were said to burn henbane to conjure spirits, although others thought it could be used to counteract maleficent magic. She adds that it is the plant from which Hyoscine is derived, which is the poison Dr Crippen used to kill his wife. 

As Christina Oakley Harrington warns, henbane is lethal. You can even die from inhaling the fumes. This is a plant to handle with care, although I am sure Matt knows exactly what he is doing with his wonderful rootwork. He also has plans to photograph and preserve the roots of other witchy herbs over the winter months and I do hope to see them!

Previous related posts

No comments: