Powers: Astral Projection, Divination
Magical Uses and History: Belladonna is probably one of the most famous herbs among witches. Sometimes referred to as Deadly Nightshade or Dwale (coming from the Scandinavian dool meaning “sleep”), the name Belladonna originates from the Latin bella-donna, meaning “beautiful lady” as the Romans prized this plant for its unique cosmetic properties. Belladonna synthesizes atropine, an alkaloid which is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream. Upon entering the bloodstream, it produces a number of symptoms. According to an old saying, Belladonna causes anyone exposed to feel “hot as a hare, blind as a bat, dry as a bone, red as a beet, and mad as a hen.” Among these symptoms is dilation of the pupils, which the ladies of the Roman aristocracy appreciated. Belladonna juices were distilled and dropped into the eyes to enlarge the pupils, causing the eyes to appear large, dark, and appealing. It is well documented that enlarged pupils are a sign of sexual arousal and attract the opposite sex, thus Belladonna was used by Roman women to attract men. However, unless the dosage was just right, using Belladonna would often produce a glassy, staring appearance as the pupils would be mostly immobile.
Due to its narcotic nature, Belladonna was ritually used to encourage astral projection and to aid in producing visions. Priests of Bellona, the Roman goddess of war, would often drink an infusion of Belladonna prior to worshiping and invoking the goddess. However, Belladonna not only stimulates the nervous system, it paralyzes it, making it extremely dangerous.
According to ancient myths, Belladonna belongs to the devil who tends to it all year except on Walpurgis when he prepares for the witches’ sabbath. Another derivation comes from the plants generic name, Atropa, which is derived from the Greek Atropos, the Fate that cuts the thread of human life. Both of these myths reference the plants deadly, poisonous nature.
Today, Belladonna is very rarely used. All parts of the plant are extremely poisonous, especially the roots. Even today there are reports of accidental deaths associated with ingestion of this nightshade. There are much safer alternatives on the market today to induce visions and aid in astral projection, so Belladonna is best avoided.
Belladonna can be used in a number of spells including (but I do no suggest its use):
Medicinal Uses: Despite its toxic nature, modern medicine has derived atropine and scopolamine from the plant to treat aliments such as irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, stomach ulcers, Parkinson’s Disease, motion sickness, and even pink eye. It can be used as a sedative and to stop bronchial spasms due to asthma and whooping cough. Furthermore, ointments containing Belladonna can be applied to joints or skin to reduce rheumatism and to fight nerve pain. It does so by blocking functions of the body’s nervous system, thus aiding in reducing nervous system related issues. However, Belladonna is EXTREMELY TOXIC and unless prescribed by a licensed physician, should NOT be used under any circumstances. Side effects include dry mouth, blurred vision, fever, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, spasms, convulsions, coma, and death. No part of the plant should be handled without gloves, especially if there is a cut or abrasion.