Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Mandrake - By Lela Moon

Mandrake written by one of our lovely Kitchen Witch School students - Lela Moon ♥

When we went to the witch museum in Bosscastle in Cornwall they had a whole section of mandrake and I have never seen a root/herb that looked so like a human form. Of course everyone knows about the mandrake as it features in all the Harry Potter books and films.

The plant has large leaves that come out direct from the base and form a circular shape. The flowers are bell shaped and grow on a stalk. They are white with a purple tinge and flower during March and April. These are followed by the fruit that is apple like, starting off green and then turning deep yellow when ripe and smell a little like pineapple. The smell of the plant is generally unpleasant.

The roots look very much like a parsnip and it runs a long way into the ground sometime as deep as three feet and it is these that everyone thinks about when the name mandrake is mentioned.

 It is a member of the potato family and can grow to a height of 1 metre. The plant is native to southern Europe.

The name comes from the Greek word mandra which means herd of cattle and is thought to be a reference to the fact that this plant is poisonous to cattle. The folk name is Satan’s apple with reference to the apple like fruits that it produces.

This plant has the most magical reputation to any other plant. Sections of the root have been found in pyramids and were also mentioned in Asstrian clay tablets in 800 BC.

In the 4th century Theophrastus said they should be scrapped and soaked in vinegar and the plants should be gathered when facing west having previously drawn three circles around it with one sword and then used as an aphrodisiac.  Mandrake was used for this purpose by the Greeks and was dedicated to Aphrodite, it was also used by them in wine as a surgical anaesthetic but could also be chewed to deaden pain and induce sleep.

Mandrake was given to those who were about to be crucified but it is said that Christ was just given vinegar as an added punishment. This led to the romans spearing their crucified victims to ensure they were dead and not just in a sleep produced by the mandrake.

As the Mandrake took on the human form it was also used as a fertility aid and has been mention in history for this purpose as well as in the bible. This root would be carried by baron women who wished to become pregnant but would also be worm to attract love .

The roots were thought to be good luck charms and the Anglo Saxons would use them to free a person from demonic possession.

Mandrake root added to your moon water will increase its strength and likewise if you place it on top of money will make it multiply. I must give this a go !!!!

The shape of the root takes on the human form, if the root is split in two it was said to be female and if not it was the male form. The female roots were the ones most sought after. If a witch harvests mandrake she must wash it in wine and the wrap in silk for storage, possession of one of these was a sure giveaway during the witch trials.

It is said that when mandrake is pulled from the ground it will scream a terrifying scream that will send anyone who heard it mad. So when one harvests mandrake they should go out on a Friday before sunrise closing ones ears with cotton wool or some sort of plug.

The roots should be loosed from the earth and tied to the tail of a dog the human should then retreat and let the dog pull the root. Don’t forget to circle the plant three times with your sword before you start to dig!!! I bet harry potter didn’t have to go to all that trouble!! .

The planet for this plant is mercury and its element is fir, gender male, crystal is quartz and the tarot is the world.

The mandrake can be uses as a plant familiar giving the owner contact with the otherworld. For this purpose the mandrake should be dug up and washed in wine, given a name and this should be called out three times. It should then be re buried. This process should be done three times and the mandrake should always be called by its name.

Mandrake is not recommended to be taken internally. 

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