Mandrake (Atropa mandragora formerly Mandragora officinalis) has large, broad leaves that emerge directly from the base in a circular cluster. Flowers appear each on a separate stalk and are bell-shaped and white with a purplish tinge. The smell of the plant is generally unpleasant. The roots resemble a parsnip and can run up to four feet deep underground. They may be single or branched.
This plant is native to Southern Europe.
Other names European Mandrake, Mandragora, Mandrake, Mandrake Apple, Pome Di Tchin, Satan’s Apple, herb of Circe, witches mannikin, sorcerer’s root, main-de-gloire, hand of glory, mangloire
History and Folklore
The name Mandragora comes from the Greek meaning “hurtful to cattle”.
The Anglo-Saxons considered mandrake, as well as periwinkle, the definitive herbs for use in cases of demonic possession.
The ancients imagined Mandrake root to look human in form and was often pictured in various texts as a man with a very long beard, or a woman with a very bushy head of hair.
If the root was split into two, it was considered female. If not, it was male. The Female roots were the most valuable and believed to be a useful charm to promote luck and wealth.
The plant was said to grow under the gallows of murderers, sprung from the bodily drippings of criminals and to shriek when dug up. The sound would kill a man or drive him insane. So, to avoid this fate, you were supposed to tie a dog to the plant and he would pull it up and die in the man’s place.
Some legends say that you could harvest only after sunset, or that you must draw a circle with a sword or wand three times around the plant before harvesting. Once harvested, a witch must wash it in wine and wrap it in silk for storage.
Little dolls were sometimes made of mandrake roots and kept to aid the household and answer important questions. Possession of one of these mandrake dolls could be used as evidence during witch trials.
Mandrakes are mentioned in the Bible; Leah bought a night with Jacob from Rachel with some Mandrakes which Rachel wanted to help her conceive. It may also have been mentioned in the Song of Solomon.
Seeds should be as fresh as possible and scattered over well-tilled, light soil in the fall. They should be kept moist and weed-free and not transplanted after the first year. Keep it in a sheltered position in full sun.
The roots should be dug in the third or fourth year.
This plant is poison! While it has been historically used medicinally, there are many safer options available to you today.
The leaves can be boiled in milk and used as a poultice for external ulcers.
The root is a powerful emetic and hallucinogen and if used internally, only with great caution, if at all. It is said in large doses to incite delirium and madness, though it was once used as a sleep aid, for those who were in too much pain to sleep. Pieces were also given patients to chew when they were about to undergo surgery.
Externally, the roots combined with alcohol make a rub for rheumatism.
A dried mandrake root placed on the mantelpiece will protect and bring happiness and prosperity to the household. It will also prevent demons from entering. Placed on top of money, it will make the money multiply.
The berries, as well as the root, are used in charms to increase fertility. Carried, it is said to attract love. It is also used in aphrodisiac spells.
Mandrake intensifies magick in any situation. Ingestion of a small amount is said to increase psychic abilities and creativity, but this is not recommended as mandrake is poison.
Add a bit of mandrake root to your moon water preparation for ritual use, but remember that it is toxic, so don’t drink it!
Mandrake root is a hallucinogen, but it is also a very powerful emetic. It can also be used to help you sleep, but it is also a very powerful emetic.
That being said, unless you want to poop your bed, vomit all over yourself, and wake up from a really bad trip in the emergency room your helpful and really worried friends took you to, use something else to get stoned.
American Mandrake Podophyllum pellatum, also known as Mayapple has no relation whatsoever to this plant. However, it is often used in place of it in spells.
Learn More Online
- Unearthing the Magickal Mandrake by Mat Auryn at For Puck’s Sake at Patheos.com
- The Magickal Mandrake Growers Support Group on Facebook
- A Collection of Mandrake Folklore from Poisoner’s Apothecary
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