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When practicing Herb Magick or craft, everyone knows that one does have to be careful: Many even make sure to mention to aspiring Green Paths that they should fully research an herb before they work with it to ensure it is safe.
But a topic few ever fully leap into is those herbs that are quite explicitly unsafe, or as they are better known in witchcraft, the Baneful Herbs.
The Baneful Herbs have a rich history witchss witchcraft, used for centuries in banefkl medicines, tinctures and rituals before their effects were fully understood.
While today this has fallen out of practice, many Green Path or hedge witches still choose to grow and work with the Baneful Herbs for their historical value and spiritual significance.
Baneful herbs and magic
Please keep in mind this is in no way a comprehensive list, instead I chose to highlight the most commonly used and well known of the herbs. I may expand this list in the future if I find the time, or if others would like a more extensive list. Please, do not use or handle any of these herbs without taking proper precautions such as gloves and other protective gear, burn or inhale the smoke of most any of these herbs, or grow witvhes children or pets may have access to.
Again, these are all capable of causing severe illness, injury, and even possible death if misused. With each entry I will also be including a list of possible substitutes for if you ever stumble across a spell or other recipe that calls for one of the plants, though as with all substitutions be wary as the effects will not be identical to that of using wigches original plant.
Sacred to Circe, belladonna is closely associated to death and the underworld due to its high toxicity. Due to this it is often used to consecrate tools before spiritual commune, or to attract the dead. It is also used in many hexes, curses, and death related potions.
On the positive side, it is said to have powers in enhancing dreams, cleansing energy and improving astral abilities, while it can also be used witchs many beauty and love spells to promote attraction and passion in a lover. Even touching the plant can cause severe rashes and other dermatitis and absorb small amounts of poison into the skin, and all parts of the plant can induce death if ingested or inhaled.
This is due to the fact qitches it contains the chemicals Atropine, Scopolamine and Hyoscamine, which act as neurotoxins and block nervous system functions. Symptoms of poisoning include dilated pupils, loss of balance, headaches, fast heartbeat and hallucinations among other symptoms. Sacred to Hecate, Hemlock is typically used in the consecration and purification of ritual blades as a juice, or as an oil in the anointing of talismans, particularly those with compatible Saturn based energies.
A funeral herb, hemlock is banefl associated with purification and wittches, as well as grounding for those interacting witchhes working with the astral plane. It can be planted at the entrances of a house to guard against ill intentions and poisoning.
An effective hexing agent, its can be used to reverse the meanings of most other herbs and oils, example using it alongside lavender happiness, harmony, healing instead promotes a sense of sadness, chaos or confusion. Similar to belladonna, hemlock poison attacks the central nervous system of the body, and can cause rashes simply by touching the plant.
Containing the bzneful Coniine, it causes muscular paralysis if consumed, and witchds untreated may cause death via paralysis of respiratory muscles in the lungs, and can also severely effect kidney function. Infamous for being used to execute famous philosopher Socrates, symptoms of poisoning include drooling, severe stomach pains, drowsiness, stiff muscles, muscle pain, limb paralysis and rapid heartbeat. Sacred to Holda, while there exists many varieties of hellebore, true hellebore, the kind mentioned in many old texts is Helleborus niger.
White Hellebore, also known as False Hellebore, does not possess the same effects. Its powers lay in that of banishing and exorcisms, as well as the cleansing and purging of negative energies. Used in many protection and warding spells, hellebore roots are typically dried and powdered via mortar and pestle for ritual purposes. Classical usage also found hellebore used to change the nature and powers of other plants while they are being grown, by either grafting it to the plant as it grows or using it as a fertilizer.
Causing irritation and burning upon contact to skin, hellebore contains the chemical protoanemonin, which causes burning of the eyes, mouth and throat if consumed or contacted, as well as stomach ulcers, while eventual death is caused by cardiac arrest. Symptoms include ringing in the ears, dizziness, extreme thirst, troubles breathing, vomiting, and convulsions. Invoking Hecate and supposedly originating from the saliva of Cereberus, aconite is used to purify and protect sacred spaces and tools.
Juice from its roots can be used in tinctures or on its own to consecrate ritual tools to banish prior energies from them and protect the ritual from negative energies. As well as this, it was often burned as a funeral incense, and planted on graves to promote safe passing. Containing the potent neurotoxin Aconitine, aconite poisoning effects the central nervous system and brain.
Extremely deadly, symptoms of aconite poisoning appear within an hour of ingestion, with death occurring within two to six hours. Only 20 mL is enough to kill an adult human, and even handling the plant without gloves has been reported to have caused death in rare cases. Symptoms include vomiting, numbness in the face and mouth, severe stomach pains, dizziness, difficulty breathing and extremely fast or slowed heartbeat.
Contact symptoms include tingling starting at point of contact and spreading up the arm, and unpleasant numbness or a sense of paralysis in the limb. Sacred to Hecate, henbane is a member of the nightshade family alongside belladonna. The most commonly used form of henbane is the Hyoscyamos niger. Despite its status as a Baneful Herb, its power lies heavily in the world of love; typically used in sachets to gain the affection of a desired lover. It was often related to wisdom and general magic, as well as being a prominent herb with ties to the underworld.
Folklore claims that burning the herb outdoors or throwing henbane into water will bring rains, and the herb has heavy ties to water. It is not without its darkness however; in hexes and curses it is used to invoke madness and sterility. While in the past its leaves and stalks were actually used in small amounts in beer and tea and low enough doses actually cause inebriation, all parts of the henbane plant contain a notable mix of neurotoxins and cardiotoxins.
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While in low doses this may only cause a hours of inebriation, dizziness, hallucinations and agitation, high doses of henbane may cause delirium, increased heartbeat, hot flashes, and respiratory paralysis, eventually resulting in death. While it is the least toxic to humans on this list, it is extremely toxic to pets and animals.
I plan to come back to this list and add more banedul a later date, namely Datura, Mandrake and Castor when I have the time, but for now I just wanted to get a few of these out there.