As I sit at the table sipping my morning brew and enjoying the warm breeze, I’m gazing out the window to the wood and my garden of belladonna. An oval bed right by the window, with river stones as the border, and a full sized skeleton placed within her bed. No it’s not real, but it does well to signify the dangers of this bewitching plant. The belladonna grows out and around the skeleton’s body, and I am reminded of the moonlit nights and euphoric dancing with those pitch black berries shinning oh so bright in the moon’s glow…
Atropa belladonna, Banewort, Witch’s berry, Devil’s cherries, Sorcerer’s berry, Dwaleberry, and Death’s herb to name but a few of her names. Belladonna is of the Solanaceae, along with her sisters Datura, Black henbane and Mandrake, which will also be included in this series. If you missed it, here is the link for Datura. Belladonna is rich in potent psychoactive alkaloids, desirable as well as toxic compounds also known as tropane alkaloids such as atropine and scopolamine.
Desirable to the witches of Europe who where known to keep belladonna in their gardens. One of the ingredients in flying ointments, witches would extract it’s essence into a fat, and then apply it to their skin, aiding their flights. I myself use bear fat, as the bear is a known astral traveler, and bear fat is pure white and very luxurious on the skin. Magickally speaking belladonna is used to forget past lovers, will provide protection if placed in a secret location, and aids astral projection as well as divinations for witches. That’s because belladonna is a plant of the devil, who tends to it all year long with the exception of Walpurgis…when he prepares for the witches sabbath.
From growing and working with belladonna personally though, I have to say this plant spirit is by far the most deadly and cunning. A plant of Hekate, Saturn, and the element of Water, she truly is the darkness in disguise. You see most poisonous plant’s berries are quite bitter, preventing one from consumption. But belladonna’s berries are rather sweet in taste, concealing her deadly poison within. Some days a handful of the berries will kill you… other days it could take only three. She entices us with her beauty and mystery, only to torment with horrendous beasts and hallucinations. But I take my chance, and naked I dance with the devil on Walpurgis night.