Week of August 20, 2017 - Witches' Garden

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 4:24 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Witches’ Garden

Witches were not afraid to use poisonous plants, for they understood how to moderate the results through careful harvesting and wise preparations. It was a witch who turned doctors onto the use of the poisonous foxglove plant. So Marie has created a spiral of poisons in her Witches’ Garden. Though I often encourage my students to smell and taste plants, I think it best if we take a hands-off approach in this garden.

Castor bean plant
This lovely castor bean plant – which may grow up to 12 feet tall in a single season, must be planted anew each year in northern Quebec, but it can grow for years in tropical and sub-tropical gardens, where it easily escapes and becomes a weed. A useful and dangerous weed. Castor oil, a healing favorite of Edgar Casey (the sleeping prophet), is pressed from the seeds, which also contain ricin, a deadly poison. It is said that a needle dipped in ricin can be used as a lethal weapon.

Plants in the nightshade family – like belladonna, henbane, tobacco and Datura -- are associated with witches. When tomatoes were brought from South America (their home) to Italy, they were considered “poison apples.” (Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all nightshades, as are ashwaganda and goji.)  It is true that many plants in the nightshade family do contain poisons which can addle your mind, mess with your eyes, and occasionally kill you. Here are a few in Marie Provost’s garden.

Datura or Jimson weed grows as a weed all over the world, from Quebec to India and all places in between. It is also known as “loco weed” because it make cows – and people – crazy if they eat it. It is featured as part of a shamanic rite in Clan of the Cave Bear by Jane Auel. As a safeguard, they ingest it only when locked in a small cave inside a larger cave. I have heard that an ointment of the root boiled in fat is probably the safest way to take a definitely unsafe-to-use plant.

~ Witches' Garden, Part 2 ~

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