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The shadow world of plants and their poisons|
Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root. The shadow world of plants and their poisons
Author: Melusine Draco
Publisher: Moon Books
Category: Witchcraft Level: All
The Story Behind …
Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root
by Melusine Draco
Every book has a story behind the story of how it came to be written. It may be about a life-long passion, a personal journey, the need to share an experience or knowledge. It may have been fermenting in the brain for years, or sprung fully formed from a blinding epiphany. Whether it be fact or fiction, sometimes the story behind the story is almost as interesting as the published book itself …
Pagan Portals: By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root
The shadow world of plants and their poisons
by Melusine Draco
Elsewhere I’ve likened the Pagan Portals (and Shaman Pathways) series published by Moon Books as the equivalent of the ‘Ladybird’ books we had as children and which, more often than not, were the titles that sparked our life-long passion for nature, history and travel. Weighing in at just 25, 000 the author has to make every magical word count and cram as much information as possible into the hundred or so pages to whet the appetite of the pagan seeker after knowledge.
By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root – The Shadow World of Plants and Their Poisons was written as a companion title to By Spellbook & Candle - Cursing, Hexing, Bottling & Binding since both are generally glossed over by contemporary pagan writers on the grounds that witches don’t curse and don’t poison people. Nevertheless, in classic books on Craft there is always the heavy emphasis on both as being the province of the witch and often used as proof of their ‘guilt’. Like cursing, however, when we really start to dig deeper into the subject, we find that most of the famous poisoners had no connection with witchcraft.
All magic is dangerous, especially when coupled with poisonous plants and therefore it would be fool-hardy for any beginner to think themselves capable of handling such powerful and unfamiliar energies merely on the strength of reading a book on the subject. Although the study and knowledge of poisonous plants is an integral part of witch-lore, it is important to fully understand what we are dealing with both magically and medicinally. Needless to say, ‘leave well alone’ is the watch-word when studying poisonous plants, and while learning to recognise them, a careful washing of the hands should be an automatic response if handling them.
And yet it should be evident that although there are a considerable number of poisonous plants in the witch’s store cupboard, every one of them have both medicinal as well as magic uses, in addition to their toxic qualities. It would have been a very unwise witch indeed who administered herbal healing and not made sure the dosage was correct – because the newly emerging profession of physicians were waiting in the wings, ready to denounce them to the Inquisition if and when anything went wrong.
Anyone it seems, could acquire natural poisons on the pretext of needing its medicinal properties; the fallacy of witchcraft and veneficium being synonymous with each other points to a blend of fact, fiction and fabrication, aimed at discrediting genuine practitioners of the Craft. In truth, long before the Romans came to Britain, traditional knowledge of healing plants was extensive; in Wales, medicine was a highly-regarded skill. The venerable traditions of the native priest-healers, from whom it is believed witchcraft descended, dated back to a thousand years before Christ.
A large number of poisonous plants have beneficial uses in both domestic medicine and magic. Needless to say, when utilising a toxic plant in magic, we are adding certain extra deadly or potent energies into the mix and it is inadvisable to start messing about with deadly poisons unless we’ve made a thorough study of the subject - and not just by glancing at a paragraph in a book on herbal preparations!
So … witches as history’s poisoners? ... I think the jury’s still out.
Sally Spedding, author of How to Write a Chiller Thriller
Melusine Draco's Pagan Portal; By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root. The Shadow World of Plants and their Poisons provides an addictive read, not only for us writers of dark fiction researching the often grim historical and literary aspects of poison, but the curious, tempted to experiment with an array of natural ingredients to mitigate against life's often damaging assaults. Draco's erudite introduction into the crime of poisoning - or veneficium - leads to four fascinating chapters from A touch of Poison to Cursing v. Bottling, with practical advice on Methods and Spells. Here, the intriguing subtitles which include Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, are all delivered in an accessible, almost inviting way, yet carrying necessary warnings. A gem of a book to be treasured by those wanting to expand their horizons. Very highly recommended.
catherine hankins | NetGalley
I loved Pagan Portals - By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root! This one was a natural draw! I've always found poison usage interesting from a historical standpoint. It seems so many well known figures in history used poison to get rid of folks who stood in there way! And of course witches were often blamed for using poisons (herb women get blamed for everything!) when some died. Unfair. or maybe not. Doesn't matter, Draco writes a wonderfully informative book on the subject and one I enjoyed reading! I can think of a few people who will appreciate this as a gift
The dark side of me loves reading about poisons and I suspect I’m not alone in this. The Poison garden at Alnwick Castle gets a lot of visitors each year in testimony of our, perhaps sometimes furtive, interest. Draco’s book is a very good introduction to the ancient arte and history of poisons which goes back certainly beyond 4, 500 years and probably throughout human history. I like Draco’s writing style which is both authoritative and accessible; I feel as if she’s talking with me over a cup of tea and I really like that. After the history there’s a fascinating chapter on “The Proving Tree”, about both cooking up and neutralizing poisons, including magical methods. It reminds me of Sir George Ripley the 15th century Yorkshire alchemist, a favourite of mine. Then there’s a very useful chapter on the plants followed by a fascinating one on cursing and bottling, with reminders that you’re responsible for everything you do! And a short but useful bibliography. Altogether an excellent little book. Thoroughly recommended.
Author's Notes: Mélusine Draco is an Initiate of traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries. Her highly individualistic teaching methods and writing draw on historical sources supported by academic texts and current archaeological findings; endorsing Crowley’s view that magic (k) is an amalgam of science and art, and that magic is the outer route to the inner Mysteries. Author of several titles currently published with John Hunt Publishing including the best-selling six-part Traditional Witchcraft series; two titles on power animals – Aubry’s Dog and Black Horse, White Horse; By Spellbook & Candle; By Wolfsbane & Mandrake Root; Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches; The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery published by Moon Books; Magic Crystals Sacred Stones and The Atum-Re Revival published by Axis Mundi Books. Her esoteric novels, House of Strange Gods and Realm of Shadow are available in both paperback and e-book formats – all books are available on Amazon.
Where To Buy: Moon Books
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