Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tentative Steps on the Poison Path


It probably comes as no surprise but lately I have been making tentative steps on the Poison Path (as made obvious I suppose by new blog). Baby steps really. I think it is likely an extension of my interest in herbs and my baby hedge witch steps as well. I think likely I’ve always been headed in this direction but it really had to be a time and place thing. I’ve always been fascinated with Mandrake and always grew/grow Foxglove and this was well before I even knew or heard of the ‘Poison Path’. It was a slow awareness, a waking up of what is possible for me. Being some one who is interested in herbs and studying to be a Herbalist, this facet of the Craft interests me. I find it curious and almost a compulsion. I don’t know if once I discover the darker aspects of herbs that I will like what I find or if it will even sit comfortable. I suppose the Poison path is not meant to be comfortable because it is a journey, walking the winding roads of entheogens and their possibilities.

The funny thing is it always sat in the back of my mind. What perhaps brought it forward was the discovery of a couple of different Nightshade types growing around my home. Also, I purchased a Wormwood a few years ago because it was ‘witchy’ but really had no idea of its Poison Path potential, all I knew was that it was perhaps not the best idea to burn it inside because Wormwood needs good ventilation when being burned. Or it could have been buying the Magical Formulary by Herman Slater and all its lovely and interesting recipes, watching Charmed and being obsessed by the mention of Mandrake all the time. I knew reading about the gothic herbs in Garden Witch’s Herbal by Ellen Dugan that I was fascinated. I can’t say for sure when it really bit because the interest has been a pervasive part of my life now for the last few years. I was always interested in Witchcraft, (see my About page for that story) so there may have been an element of inevitability to it.


I really stepped out I suppose when I purchased my first true banefuls in the form of two types of Madrake (Officinarum & Autumnalis) and the much famed Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade). I have a list of other herbs I want to procure along the way – I’m dying to get a Yew tree, I just have to save up my money. I also want to get Henbane, Black Hellebore and Hemlock, I wonder about Fly Agaric also, but that is something I think I would have to purchase elsewhere as opposed to growing myself. I am not rushing, I am letting things progress as they will, rather organically. As I feel called to grow a plant I will. For now, I am comfortable with the Mandrakes and Nightshades. Although I do really want that Yew tree.

I am exploring various paths, the Faery pathway calls to me, the Hedge, the Poison and the Crafting calls to me. I am wholly committed to creating a magical garden because it is almost a calling, a compulsion I can’t ignore. I feel as though I need to walk these pathways because something in me needs to know, to learn and to journey. I’m now doing a lot of reading, books have always been a large part of my life – okay its more like nearly all of my life, I’ve been a prolific reader since before I started school, so my natural instinct is to read. I purchased Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants (Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Christian Rätsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl Ph.D.) and it is a fascinating journey into the history of banefuls across thousands of years. If this is an area that interests you – especially the Greek Pantheon as the herbs associate with them are covered in this book – it might well pay to check it out for yourself. I am thinking of getting Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers by R.E. Schultes, A. Hofmann & C. Rätsch. My list is kind of epic. Mind you, the library I am a part of currently has a One Card Network, it is where 130 SA libraries have joined together and you can order/reserve books yourself and have them sent to your library instead of hassling your library to order them in. I think you can have like 28 – 30 reservations at a time. Want to guess what the majority of mine are?


My advice, from what little I’ve learned so far, is that if this is an area that interests you, start with basic herbs first. Don’t go for the banefuls straight out the gate. Familiarise yourself with your regular herbs, understand their functions and abilities, use regular herbs a lot and get to know what they can do. Eventually you will have enough working knowledge to move toward the more dangerous of plants.

Writing this, I wonder if it is the natural curiosity of the Witch to at some point journey near on to this path, to discover the herbs of antiquity?

2 comments:

  1. I am enjoying living vicariously through you as my garden sleeps. :) Really long winters here!

    "Writing this, I wonder if it is the natural curiosity of the Witch to at some point journey near on to this path, to discover the herbs of antiquity?"

    I wonder that myself. I grow quite a few and will sometimes incorporate them in charms and such, but I discovered a while back that I am definitely not a “true poisoner”.

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  2. I can totally understand your passion as I too have been called by Lady Nightshade. She came to me in my dreams and I became so fascinated by her plants that it has become my life. Right now, I am writing a book on these plants and I have so many sources and done so many countless hours of research into the Solanaceae of Lady Nightshade. I grow Datura, Brugmansia, Belladonna, Henbane, and mandrake. they are all in my room with me and I give them so much love and respect. I was called by a deep burning inner desire and I think its great to see your enthusiasm just like mine! I wish I had a way to learn the Poison Path, because it calls me intensely... Blessings to you!

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