Herbal Grimoire: Hail Hecateis, the poison of Wolfsbane

Written by Algoth’s Grove

“Perhaps it is a gift to cause the death of another, or a gift from the gods to allow us our own death… or perhaps it is someone’s weapon against another whom they see as a wolf.”

Wolfsbane, mentioned in the Wiccan Rede, it’s genus is Aconite… which includes a wide range of myths and tales, and interestingly enough belongs to the Buttercup family Ranunculaceae. From Thor, to Hades and Cerberus, to Siva himself. The plant is even sometimes referred to in the Greek tales as Hecateis after the Goddess Hecate, who this sacred plant was thought to belong to. It was also thought to provide visions if taken correctly. However, before we move into the folklore… this is a deadly poison, in fact the entire genus should be left alone. The symptoms are extreme, but what is even more interesting is that the only symptom found in an autopsy after poisoning with Wolfsbane is death by strangulation. Do not touch it, do not work with it, leave it alone. There are a thousand ways that are safe to journey… these poisons are not… and loss of life is not worth it for the people you leave behind.

There are two species, Aconitum Lycoctonum (True Wolfsbane), and the blue flowering Monkshood, Aconitum Napellus, the poisons contained in both have similar effects but are different in their structure. Besides the choice of aconite used, its tales were important enough to be recorded right throughout history and in historical grimoires. One tale describes the blood in the veins of Cerberus as being identical to the poison found inside the plant and the plant was born from the saliva of Cerberus.

The poison is commonly referred to as Aconite. It has been recorded that Aconite was used against wolves by tipping arrows in the poison. It was known as the only poison to be able to definitely kill a wolf. It was also recorded in magickal journals as having the ability to turn one into a werewolf. It was worn, eaten or simply breathed in. It is highly unlikely that many who tried did not die from attempting to become a werewolf, and any such superstition should be left alone.

In Greece all forms of Aconite was referred to as ‘The Queen of Poisons.” It is interesting to note that Arsenic is known as ‘The King of Poisons.” Witches or those who had the knowledge of the deadly wolfsbane would make a tincture and dip flints into the tincture and throw it at enemies. A single scratch would kill. Cornelius Agrippa recorded that Wolfsbane belonged to Mars due to the heat it produced in the body once the poison had taken effect. The aged were given a concoction of Wolfsbane once they were no longer useful to the community.

Over in Egypt we have been thrown with another theory that Cleopatra herself was never bitten by a Cobra, but instead took her life by ingesting a deadly concoction of Wolfsbane, Hemlock and Datura. Magickally wolfsbane is hung in the home to prevent werewolves from entering the home, as well as preventing shapeshifting. The baneful nature of this plant is said to be a brilliant additive in harmful magick associated with death and chaos, however, the baneful nature of this plant may take both the life of the practitioner as well as the person they are attempting to harm… many roads lead to Rome and Wolfsbane should not be one of them.

“Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.

Excerpt from The Wiccan Rede by Lady Gwen Thompson
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