Witchcraft Herbs

by Rosy, Emma, and Alexa

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.
(Macbeth, Act 4 Scene 1)

that's right, head first, it increases the flavour...

Beginning in the Middle Ages, magic and witchcraft was practiced throughout Europe and eventually spread into North America. Herbalism was a prominent feature of the witchcraft practiced, though much of what we know comes from the records of Spanish Inquisitors (as well as other authorities who took an interest in this phenomena). The effect of the witches' ointments, usually made of plants that contained hallucinogenic alkaloids, were often concluded to be demonic.

To get you ready for what you are about to read we thought a little background music could help! "I put a spell on you" from the ever popular Hocus Pocus movie.

Of the plants selected here, all are part of the family Solanaceae (also known as the Nightshade family). The brews, ointments, and salves concocted with these plants were regarded as the source of the witches' special abilities. These included flying (by rubbing 'flying ointment' on the broomstick), turning into animals, casting love spells, communicating with spirits.


Mandrake by Rosy.


Belladonna by Alexa.


Henbane by Emma.

At least some modern witches still claim that the use of psychoactive plants remove the barriers between our world and the world of the spirits. They acknowledge that the tropane compound within the Solanaceae family can cause heart problems or even heart failure among other issues when ingested, but also that using them externally is much less dangerous (though careful dosage is still needed to avoid things like permanent blindness and death).

Have you seen this witch? If yes, please call by town bell


Baroja, Julio C., (1964) ‘’The World of the Witches’’. University of Chicago Press.
Harner, Michael J., ed. (1973) "The Role of Hallucinogenic Plants in European Witchcraft" in Hallucinogens and Shamanism. Oxford University Press. Library of Congress: 72-92292. p. 128-50