Atropa belladonna

Of all the plants associated with witchcraft, Belladonna is perhaps the most famous (though some may argue for the mandrake). Also known as Deadly Nightshade, the scientific name for this toxic plant is Atropa belladonna after Atropos, the Fate who cuts the cord that ends a mortal life. And make no mistake; she is deadly and one should not be foolhardy or incautious with her.

The plant’s growth form is graceful, with full green leaves, bell shaped purple-maroon flowers, and enticing shiny black fruits. Indeed, belladonna means “beautiful lady”. Lore says that Italian courtesans in the Renaissance used eye drops made from the juice of the plant to dilate their pupils and achieve a dreamy and more desirable appearance. These magical potions, or collyries as they are known, were used in conjunction with magical cosmetics to fascinate and bind, glamour, seduce, and bestir the passions of those who were beheld through the enlarged pupil of the enchanted eye and those who gazed upon the bewitching lady.

Perhaps part of belladonna’s witchy reputation also comes from the plant’s usage in the anaesthetic potions of medieval medicine; these potions are called Dwale (another of belladonna’s names) from the middle English, meaning “dazed, stupor; deception, trickery; delusion; error”. Indeed, like opium, belladonna is a hypnotic, she imparts to those who seek her the waking dream. Determining whether true visions or illusion requires a generous amount of discernment.

All this to say, belladonna is possessed of a dual nature — the age old pairings of sex and death. Glamories and fascination are within belladonna’s purview, befuddling the senses of those you would seduce. Belladonna is also efficacious in necromantic operations, particularly assisting in works with the Mighty dead. Additionally, the plant may be petitioned to assist in works of Dream and trance and faring forth by night. A mighty witch’s herb indeed.

Leaf: 15 g (1/2 oz):

Root, cut: 5g (1/6 oz):