Also Called: Deadly Nightshade, Divale, Black, Devil's Herb, Naughty Man's Cherries, Cherry, Dwayberry, Sorceror's Cherry, Witches Berry, Dwaleberry, Murderer's Berry, Sorceror's Berry, Fair Lady, Great Morel, Devil's Cherries, Black Cherry, Death's Herb, Banewort, Dwale, Deadly Dwale, Manicon, Mekilwort, Sleeping Nightshade, Daft-Berries, Devil's Berries,
***Note: Deadly poison, do not ingest: ALL PARTS OF THE PLANT CONTAIN ATROPINE WHICH IS LETHAL IN EVEN SMALL DOSES***
Place on a ritual altar to honor the deities and add energy to rituals.
It provides protection when placed in a secret place in the home.
Belladonna has long been used as a power plant by witches, sorcerers and shamans to induce trance states. In the past it was used to facilitate divination, visions and sleep, and was one of the ingredients of the 'flying ointment'. However the herb is highly poisonous in all its parts and is just as likely to induce death!
It is a herb of the Underworld and connected with underworld deities. As such it may be used to consecrate tools used for underworld contacts, particularly those made of lead or onyx. It can be added to the Samhain incense, providing that it is used in the open air, to attract the Ancient Dead to the feast. Samhain is the time of year when the spirits of the ancestors are asked to join us to celebrate the eternal cycle and benefit us with their advice and wisdom.
The generic name 'atropa' is derived from 'Atropos', one of the Greek Goddesses of Fate or Parcae, daughters of Erebus and Night. Clotha span the thread of life at man's birth, Her sister Lachesis determined its length, while the black veiled Atropos was the Goddess who wielded the shears to cut the thread of life, regardless of age, sex or position. 'Atropos' means 'irrevocable'.
Belladonna or deadly nightshade is highly poisonous, causing death by the paralysis of the respiratory system. In small doses however, belladonna causes a feeling of euphoria and disorientation, followed by a deep sleep engendering vivid dreams, said to often be of an exotic nature. With a larger dose raving madness and death occur. This explains its use throughout history by shamans and witches. Some of its folk names such as 'dwaleberry' may derive from the Danish 'dvaleboer' meaning 'trance berry'. It was a principle ingredient of many of the flying ointments' used by witches.
One of the common names for this plant 'dwale' is thought to come from the Norse word 'duale' which means 'dead sleep' and refers to the result of taking belladonna. It may be connected to the Scottish word 'dule' and the French word 'deuil' which both mean 'sorrow'. A cosmetic lotion called dwal water was used by young women for removing freckles.
The common name 'belladonna' means 'beautiful lady' and is probably derived from the fact that women in the Middle Ages used the herb extract, dropped into the eyes, to dilate the pupils, making them appear darker and more beautiful. (Using the juice in this way can cause glaucoma.) Some sources claim that it may derive from the fact that an Italian poisoner used deadly nightshade to poison beautiful women. Legend had it that on certain nights the plant may take the form of a beautiful woman to lure men to their deaths.
The wine of the Maenads, worshippers of Dionysus in ancient Greece, may have taken belladonna and datura to induce trance states and euphoria. In ancient Greece the plant was known as 'circaeon' after the enchantress Circe, as the leaves were often employed in sleeping draughts.
Priests of the war Goddess Bellona used to drink an infusion of belladonna before invoking Her.
Belladonna was thought to have been the plant which accidentally poisoned the troops of mark Anthony during the Partian Wars. The soldiers, short of herbs and needing to eat, tried something unfamiliar to them and became intoxicated. Some however say that this plant was datura.
Deadly nightshade, despite the fatality of the drug, has rarely been used as a poison by murderers since its symptoms are so obvious. It is once said to have saved Scotland from Danish invaders in the 11th century. The Danes landed and demanded mead as part of their settlement. Macbeth laced the mead with belladonna and then slaughtered the poisoned Danes.
Belladonna was believed to be beloved of the devil, who guarded it all year round except on May Eve, when he had to leave to go to the witches sabbat and then the plant was vulnerable. This is probably a corruption of the older lore when the belladonna was harvested for magical purposes at Beltane. In Bohemia it was thought the plant was guarded by the devil but on Walpurgis Nacht (May Eve) he could be distracted by letting lose a black hen which he would chase.
The root was used in the same way as mandrake. Any spirit bound in this root was thought to be powerful with regard to dreams and visions.
Belladonna has a dark and fearsome reputation. Many old herbalists refused to grow it, and monkish chroniclers would not even mention it, though it was grown in monastery gardens as a cure for inflammations and boils. It once grew so thickly around Furness Abbey that the district was known as The Vale of Nightshade.
Considering the plants association with death and its lethal effects it is interesting how often it can be found growing on graveyard walls.
Check out The Pagan Corner with Cu & Sin