Excerpted from Garden Witch's Herbal: Green Magick, Herbalism & Spirituality (c) 2009 by Ellen Dugan. Used by permission. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. www.llewellyn.com. The following excerpt can be found on Pages 167 to 168.
Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum). Folk names include devil’s apple, herb of Circe, ladykins, mannikin, and womandrake. This baneful herb is sacred to Aphrodite and is a native plant of Europe. It has long, ovalshaped leaves that are pointed at the tips. The leaves are described as “malodorous,” meaning they stink. The plant does bloom—a pale violet-colored flower in the spring that then matures to round, yellow, pineapple-scented fruits. These toxic fruits were called the golden apples of Aphrodite.
Mandragora can grow up to twelve inches in height and has a long, parsnip-looking root that often resembles a human shape. According to plant folklore, the mandrake screams when it is pulled from the earth—and for best results, you were supposed to pull out the plant by circling it with silver and then in one swift pull remove the entire plant, with the root intact.
The root of the mandrake is what is typically used in magick. Mandrake root is one of the world’s oldest narcotics. It is a hallucinogen, and this is one of the herbs often worked into “flying ointments.” This herb is classified as a masculine herb, and it has the reputation of being a Witch’s hexing herb. For magickal operations, the mandrake is employed as an amulet. The root of the mandrake was often used as a poppet to represent a person. Just possessing a mandrake root and carrying it as a charm was thought to protect the bearer from possession and to bring good health. The root was sometimes displayed upon the mantle of the fireplace to bring success, wealth, and joy to the entire home.
In the language of flowers, mandrake signifies rarity. The astrological correspondence for Mandragora is Mercury, and the elemental association is fire.
Warning: This plant is legally restricted in some countries. All parts of the mandrake are extremely toxic and should be handled with caution. Do not ingest.
Click here for the main article, From Our Bookshelf: An Introduction to Magical Herbalism.