When we think of autumn and what’s blooming, we think of the festival Samhain, Halloween, and Día de Los Muertos. There are lots of creepy and fascinating plants tied to these holidays. Let’s learn more, shall we? When we think of pagan rituals and stories of witches and sorcerers from art, movies, and popular culture, we wonder what was used in their spells. These very real flowers are endlessly fascinating and have some real-life uses. Let’s talk about botanicals used in crafting spells and casting a bit of magic.
“We sow the seed of deadly nightshade and wish it to bear lilies and roses!”
–Gottfried von Strassburg
- Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade) is a poisonous perennial shrub with dark green foliage and unmistakable purple flowers that resemble bells. The plant also produces blackberries that can be deadly if ingested. Belladonna has sometimes been used as a homeopathic treatment (in small doses) for various ailments (including arthritis). Belladonna can and has been used as a sedative as well.
- Mugwort is known as the “dream plant” because it can help one ease into a restful sleep. It can also be used in just the opposite way as well: in a tonic to increase energy.
- The Venus Fly Trap is carnivorous. There are plants of this sort that can grow very large (such as the pitcher plant) and can actually consume small rodents. Small plants of this sort make very interesting house plants and are wonderful conversation starters!
“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and Autumn moon is bright.”
-The Wolf Man
- Wolf’s bane or Aconitum is a flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae. As it grows on a tall stalk, the flowers are hooded and come in a variety of colors, including white, blue, and purple. It is also one of the most poisonous plants in the UK.
- Worm Wood is one of the botanicals used in absinthe, along with green anise (which gives it its eerie green color). Wormwood is also an aphrodisiac.
- Sage is burned to clear a space of negative energy. A wand of sage is cleansing and calming when burned and is used in healing rituals.
“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble!”
–The Three Weird Sisters, Macbeth
- Star Anise is a favorite among witchy women and is used in spells for psychic visions.
- Valerian Root is known to help one sleep.
- Hyssop is a magical plant used in healing baths and herbal medicine as an antiseptic and can even help to relieve a bad cough.
- Ivy is, of course, thought of when we think of Halloween because we imagine old haunted mansions covered in the stuff. It is actually a pest and can ruin an entire structure! Of course, poison ivy is a whole other matter and can give those who come in contact with the plant a nasty rash.