Wicked Weeds for Witches

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Datura, also called “Jimsonweed”, causes powerful hallucinations.

“Doubledouble toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” – William Shakespeare.

Many legends and fairy stories have grown up around witches, those powerful women who used their knowledge and skills in the arts of sorcery, wizardry and enchantment. They were ascribed many powers and were thought to be in league with the devil.


Witches knew the power of plants and how to use them to their advantage. It is no wonder that simple folk thought that they could perform magic. And I’m sure that in some cases they encouraged the myths. Nevertheless, over the years, many stories have been told about women and how they performed their “magic”, using incantations, spells and charms and their legendary brews and potions.

Being something of a witch myself, I seek and find magic in the many powers of plants. I realize that there are scientific explanations as to why plants do what they do, but there are some things in nature so mysterious that science will never be able to truly explain them. Plants have life forces that go beyond their chemical make-up and which can be harnessed by those who take the time to understand them. This is why, whenever I create a “potion”, I feel it carries with it a special power.

Witchcraft has been historically considered an evil art, which has put at jeopardy anyone using natural or spiritual forms of healing, as they were often grouped in with the bad witches. Of course, many of these bad witches were often just midwives, or teachers or anyone who proved inconvenient to the existing, church dominated power structure. Over time, all sorts of myths and mythconceptions built up around these undesirables In such superstitious days of plagues and famine, and the socio-political influences of the church, it is little wonder that people ended up being burnt as witches.

The moldy oldy story behind the Salem witch burnings

One of the theories that explains away the witch burnings in Salem, since plague and famine wasn’t an issue, is that it was their diet. Apparently, there is a mold that develops in rye that has hallucinogenic effects when ingested. I’m sure those folks ingested plenty of moldy rye over the years. You can only imagine what they thought they saw, so when they had to decide between starting the first Flower Power movement and burning their neighbors as witches, it was a no brainer.

How Datura got the name Jimsonweed

The stories behind some plants are often rooted in historical events, and can usually be verified. Jimsonweed got its name from a garrison of British soldiers at Jamestown, who decided to harvest and eat Datura, after they ran out of food. Datura is in the nightshade family and is a potent hallucinogen. It took several days to find all the missing troops, many of whom were discovered laying naked and delirious, throughout the neighborhood People have been known to do some very strange things under the influence of Datura including self mutilation. It is related to good ol’ Belladonna and has similar effects. It seems that no matter what crazy stuff you say or do under its influence, you remember nothing of it afterwards. Sounds like an evil witches brew to me.

Enchanter’s Nightshade turns men into pigs

Enchanter's nightshade

Cerce used this to turn Odysseus’s men into pigs, well that explains a lot.

There’s a delightful little flower living in the woods called Enchanter’s Nightshade that was used by the sorceress Cerce to turn Odysseus’s men into pigs. When I told our neighbor about it she thought for a moment then said, “I think my husband might have overdosed on it”.

Of course there are many plants out there that possess special properties that have been used over the centuries for many different purposes both good and bad. Witches of old explored herbs and minerals to discover these hidden mystical powers. Today’s witches however have gone mainstream, calling themselves scientists, pharmacists and genetic engineers. As with ancient witches, many of them have good intentions, but some of them are just plain evil.

For an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend, get the book Wicked Plants.

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Book Wicked Plants

Book Wicked Plants


Here are more wicked stories on Datura, stay away from it!




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