What are Baneful Herbs?
First and foremost baneful herbs are known for their potential for poisoning. They contain powerful chemicals known as alkaloids that have a powerful effect on human physiology. When used properly they are some of our most powerful medicines, but in the wrong hands; as history has shown, they can be used for the most nefarious of purposes. These powerful botanical toxins are the herb’s defense mechanism against predation, and many myths surround the origins and creation of their baneful natures. However, from a magical perspective, there is much more to their oftentimes sinister nature. Plants associated with the shadowy underworld of witches and sorcerers, calling upon their daemonic forces as familiar spirits to do their bidding can be found in cultures around the world.
Through an understanding of the herbs’ histories, correspondences and folklore we can engineer more practical applications for enhancing spellcraft. There is always an aura of mystery and of danger when working with these allies so closely connected to the Other. Many of them are gatekeepers allowing us to pierce the veil and access eldritch powers for our spells and rituals. Historically these herbs gained their infamous reputations due to their association with poison and witchcraft, which in the ancient world was viewed as one and the same. Many of them can have mind-altering properties, and those willing to use them in this way can test their Fate. Those who approach these herbs from a place of reverence are often rewarded with some of the most powerful albeit unsettling experiences.
The daemonic spirits of plants like Mandrake and Deadly Nightshade also make powerful allies and teachers; oftentimes delivering the harshest of lessons. Under the rulership of Saturn, they can teach us about resilience and survival, biding our time. As we allow them to work within our lives they slowly but effectively cause the harmful and infectious influences in our lives to rot and fall away. Working with the living plants and their powerful spirits is a long term endeavor, only revealing themselves over time.
However, from a practical perspective; as ingredients for spell work and catalysts for magic, these baneful allies can be of immediate use to the green witch or wortcunner. All plants have their specific area of expertise, unique ways in which they can lend a hand in our magical endeavors. Then there are those herbs so steeped in the occult and otherworld, that they are powerful workers of magic independent of our human agenda. Not all magical potentiators are baneful in nature, for example, Dragon’s Blood, Vervain and Lady’s Mantle are three powerful magical catalysts that are willing to assist us in a wide variety of workings.
There are certain types of magic that call for these powerful allies in particular. Their association with death and their very real potential for poisoning create a powerful paradigm within the human psyche. Those practices most associated with witchcraft such as: speaking to the dead, traveling to the Underworld, hexing, cursing and even love magic are all areas of expertise for baleful spirits of the pharmakon. They are medicine, poison and magic all wrapped into one.
I have been working with plants of this sort for nearly ten years and have been teaching physical classes on their chemistry, history, and magic. For the first time after multiple requests for an online class, I have finally decided to oblige. This class will introduce attendees to some of my favorite plants in this interesting category and will go over some of their histories. The main scope of this particular class is the use of Saturnian herbs and Poison Plant allies in spell work, and I will be sharing many of my personal discoveries for their application that I have uncovered over the years that I have worked with these herbs.
Some of the topics covered in this course are as follows:
~Beyond the Greater Malefic an exploration of Saturnian influences
~Poison Plant Allies: forming a relationship with the living plant and its daemon
~Mirror Scrying And Spirit Communication
~Activating Second Sight
~Herbs of Wrath: Cursing, Blasting and Contagion Magic
~Astral Weaponry, Invisibility, And Shapeshifting
~Occultation: Hiding things under the Saturnian influence
All of these topics and more will feature the particular plants which are most suited to each category and their practical uses.