Updated: Apr 10
Commonly known as Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade,
Devil's Cherry, Dwaleberry, Sorcerer's Cherry (in Romania Wolf Cherry)
Habitat: Shady, Damp Areas
A herbaceous perennial, native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, growing about three foot tall. The oval-shaped leaves and purplish brown tubular flowers and berries are toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include scopolamine and hyoscyamine which cause a rapid heartbeat, delirium, hallucinations, and seizures. It has been used medicinally as a sedative or to aid in asthma, however dosage of a plant thats active ingredients fluctuate, make it very difficult for even a very experienced herbalist to use. Coming from the Solanaceae nightshade family it has often been confused with Mandragora Officinarum, however that is the Mandrake of Aphrodite while Atropa Belladonna is the Mandrake of Hecate.
In Italy a tincture of Belladonna was dropped in women's eyes to dilate the pupils. A giant dark pupil was thought to be more attractive, hence the meaning of the word being “beautiful Lady” (it honestly reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Willow's eyes turned black but what do I know).
Professor Henry G. Walters believed mixing a Venus Fly Trap with a Poisonous plant such as Belladonna that we'd be in big trouble. He believed plants could love and had memory so the Devil's Cherry would obviously be filled with hate. As a side note, for more about plants and their consciousness read "The Secret Life of Plants" by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. They did fascinating research on tomato plants that might make you reconsider eating anything!
Sacred to Hecate, Bellona and Saturn, this plant could be called the Classic Witch's Plant although little information has been passed down about its Magical uses. We can ascertain its use in baneful and transformative magics. Giovanni Battista della Porta referenced Belladonna as a shapeshifting plant but this inebriating plant has been associated with Witchcraft and Sorcery since ancient times. Growing from the Garden of Hecate, it is still used as one of the ingredients of the infamous Witches Flying Ointment. Atropa is said to transport Witches off to the Sabbat or other far away places to practice their Arts. The ointment was rubbed on the skin or was applied to various 'hairy parts' for easy absorption, sometimes speculated to be done with the assistance of a broomstick (well at least once, under torture). Now when I say 'hairy parts' I'm suggesting armpits!
Out of all the plants, Belladonna is one of my very favorites! It evokes memories of Witchcraft and attracts the Spirits I have come to know as friends.
(WARNING, now, just for those of you out there who may try to grow or use this plant. It requires much care and respect. I do not suggest that anyone without proper training in herbology use this plant internally or externally. Be safe.)
ABOUT SI MANDRAGORA
Si is a Gardnerian high priest operating in Flagler County, FL. A practitioner of various kinds of witchcraft since adolescence, he now runs Mandragora Magika, creates occult art for people, grows all kinds of plants but mostly in love with the poisonous variety. Si holds a degree in Graphic Design from the Art Institute.