Written by Algoths Grove
“They say that the berries are sweet and the death is a sweet flow into a slumber that never ends, but what they don’t say is that if you get the dosage wrong… an eternal psychosis is the only slumber that you will ever see… “
Belladonna… Deadly Nightshade…. Atropa, “She who cannot be turned aside.” Named after the third sister of the Greek version of the three fates, Atropos, the one who cuts the thread of life and ultimately decides your exact moment of death. Her Roman equivalent is Morta. The plant is named after the sister who controls death for good reason, it is indeed one of the deadliest plants in the eastern hemisphere.
The history behind the uses of Belladonna are like poetry, they speak of jealousy and retribution… they hold secrets of beauty and a deadly shade of women who took too much… in the core of this historically life taking plant, there is also healing. Belladonna comes from the Solanaceae family and shares its sisterhood with potatoes, brinjals, tobacco, and chilli peppers. Known by other names like death cherries, devil’s berries and banewort, belladonna has made an incredible impact on our modern day medicine. The presence of Belladonna in sleep medication, over the counter tonsil medication and beauty products is quite common. It is interesting to note that the only naturally occurring antidote comes from the calabar bean. However, as noted by Sir Thomas Richard Fraser, the perfect synergy required to bring the patient back from the dead is so delicate that if the dose is a single ounce out of play, the patient will die even faster than if they were to pass simply from the calabar bean or belladonna.
In Italian, Belladonna means ‘beautiful woman / lady’ and strangely enough the middle ages saw countless women taking a carefully prepared potion from belladonna, used as eye drops to enlarge their pupils, so as to appear more attractive. It must be noted that many a women took a lethal dose or the potion was not prepared correctly and it ended in a fatal beautifying ritual. The art of poisoning through belladonna was soon grabbed hold of by sinister people and death by belladonna became a common thing. In an interesting turn around, the poison testers for the kings found that they could muster an immunity to the plant. Small doses leading up to a deadly dose could allow them to test the deadly drink and therefore carry out a paid assasination without anyone blinking an eyelid at the guilty party.
Witches and Belladonna – now this is a touchy subject… It is rumoured that flying ointment really contained Belladonna, Monkshood / Wolfsbane, Hemlock and extract of the Poppy. It would be made by a hand of a witch who knew exactly what she was doing and if not, well you would not return from your flying expedition.
If using belladonna in spells, use with caution and gloves. It would be advisable to find a substitute to govern the attributes instead of using belladonna, but if you must use her… make sure you do so with great great caution:
Ruling Planet: Saturn
Deities: Hekate, Aphrodite, Atropos,
Magical uses: Sleep, Hexes, Moon magic
Below is an excellent video on the science of Belladonna