There’s a saying that goes, “a witch that can’t curse can’t heal.”
This is along the lines of pharmacology that certain plants and herbs in medicine can be lethal and poisonous, but in small doses can be therapeutic.
The use of poisonous plants and herbs deserves and needs caution and extreme care when handling, not to forget also a great deal of respect for the plant or herb itself.
In this post, we’ll discuss about the plant henbane:
- What henbane is and where henbane is from
- Uses of henbane in traditional medicine and pharmacology
- Uses for working with henbane in magick, spells and witchcraft
- Astrological correspondence to henbane
- Deities connected to henbane
- Resources, books and links to further your study about henbane
Word of Caution about Henbane:
If you’ve read this far, it’s important to note that henbane should never be consumed, eaten or taken internally.
When handling henbane or other poisonous plants/herbs, extra caution is needed such as wearing gloves, having a special area or space to work with the plant.
If you have breathing issues (such as asthma or sensitivities) then it may ideal to wear a mask or protective eye wear when handling the herb/plant.
Some poisonous plants emit toxic vapors that can cause dizziness, nausea, giddiness or may have a foul odour.
Take extreme caution when working with or handling henbane if you have pets or children around you.
This includes teenagers who may be curious but unaware of the consequences of touching or handling these plants/herbs.
Such plants should be kept in containers out of reach and properly labeled.
That being said, any herbs, plants, ointments containing any parts of henbane should be used with extreme caution and never ingested, eaten or consumed.
Poisonous Plants: Working with Henbane in Witchcraft
Let’s begin by looking at what henbane is and where henbane originates from.
What is Henbane and Where Henbane is from?
Henbane is scientifically known as Hyoscyamus niger which is a poisonous plant that belongs to the Solanaceae family.
The name henbane dates back to 1265 AD and comes from the Solanaceae family which contains other plants such as potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco, but different subcategories and variations are known of these “nightshade” plants.
Henbane is commonly also known as:
- Black henbane
- Stinking nightshade (because of its putrid odour)
- Hogbean / Hog’s bean
- Devil’s eye
- White henbane
Henbane is an annual or biennial plant that can grow between 25 and 100 cm (9.84 to 39.37 in) tall.
The toxicity of henbane is contributed to its tropane alkoid called hyoscyamine, scopolamine and atropine.
Henbane is believed to originate in Eurasia, but has become an invasive plant that is found in North America, including Canada.
This plant can be found naturally in waste areas, alongside highways/freeways, abandoned areas, fields and grows best in sandy or well-drained soil that’s moderately fertile.
Henbane is used in pharmaceuticals like many other narcotic plants to achieve an analgesic effect safely.
Next, we’ll look at what these therapeutic pharmacology uses for henbane have been in the past.
Henbane in Traditional Medicine and Pharmacology
The use of henbane dates back to recorded usage in the Middle Ages as a therapy and medicine.
However, use of henbane can date further back to ancient times.
Henbane has been used in traditional medicine to treat conditions such as:
- Bone ailments / disorders
- Stomach problems
- Nervous disorders / diseases
Henbane has been used also as a sedative, analgesic and narcotic pain reliever in traditional medicine.
The poisonous effects of henbane can be severe to fatal depending on the dosage that even touching the plant can induce symptoms of toxicity.
Symptoms of henbane poisoning may include:
Mild to moderate symptoms:
- Dilated pupils
- Flushed skin
- Memory disturbances
- Dry mouth
Severe symptoms which may be signs of overdose may include:
- Respiratory paralysis
- Cardiac arrest
Henbane in Magick, Spells and Witchcraft
The use of henbane in witchcraft dates back to the Middle Ages where folk legends of “flying” ointment are recorded.
The legends of witches and their flying ointment are said to have assisted them with astral travel which more or less were delirium and hallucinations invoked by the toxicity of the poisonous plants.
To know more about flying ointments and witches, check out this article by Otherworldly Oracle.
Occvlta has an article also about flying ointments and the Poison Path.
Henbane requires caution when working with this plant, so depending on the purpose you intend to work with, it will be different than working with other common herbs or plants.
What is henbane used for in modern times?
Henbane is often used in ointments for healing and in flying ointments to this day; that being said extreme caution is needed.
Ointments and ingredients containing henbane should not be used by or around pregnant or nursing people, those with heart or breathing problems/diseases, blood pressure problems or certain medications such as antidepressants.
For more information about warnings of the use of henbane, be sure to check out this article by WebMD that lists special precautions and warnings about the use of henbane.
Henbane has been known to alleviate muscular and joint pain topically when used in a healing ointment or balm.
The use of henbane in ointments must be done carefully and sparingly to avoid becoming too immune to its healing effects or overly affected negatively by side effects.
Henbane may be used medicinally, however the dosage can vary and only skilled herbalists usually work with this plant when it comes to the medicinal application of henbane.
So what are the magickal uses of Henbane?
Here’s some of the magickal uses of henbane in witchcraft:
- Astral travel
- Spirit communication
- Underworld journeys
- Malefic magick (harmful magick)
- Curing illness (see section above for lists of traditional medical uses)
Safely working and storing henbane is especially important and can be used in a variety of ways, but different than common herbs and plants.
Keeping henbane securely sealed in a labeled jar or wooden box on a shelf or altar (out of reach of pets, children or curious people) and/or can be safely stored in a dedicated space for an underworld deity or for meditative purposes.
If you’re familiar with working with henbane and have adequate research, having the plant safely stored, you can communicate and connect with the spirit of the plant.
Working with henbane in an ointment can be a beginning step to work with the essence of this plant.
However, only a small amount is needed when working with flying ointments and always carefully washing hands and any surfaces thereafter.
Mild henbane symptoms from an ointment may last three to four hours, but may be residual for up to four days.
Henbane and Astrology
The plant Henbane is associated with Saturn, the planet of endings, limitations and finality.
Working with henbane can be amplified on Saturdays and during Saturn’s hour.
Henbane and Deities
Henbane is sacred to Apollo in Greek mythology, however it has a strong connection to madness, sleep and death.
Because of these associations with death and hallucinations, Henbane is also connected with the underworld due to its poisonous attributes and toxicity, which is common for many of the poisonous plants and herbs known.
Henbane is strongly connected to Hades/Pluto, Hekate, Persephone and Hel.
In Baltic mythology, Henbane is linked with the witch goddess Ragana, who is similar to but has darker energy than Baba Yaga, the Russian crone witch.
To know more about this goddess, read Working with Ragana, the Baltic Goddess of Witchcraft and Death.
Resources and Links about Henbane
To further your studies and research about henbane, have a look at the links and books below; be sure to bookmark them for later.
Links about Henbane:
Bane Folk has a reading list for all things related to the Poison Path
The U.S. Forest Service has pictures of henbane along with information
Patheos has more about henbane: Twilight Sleep: A Collection of Henbane Lore
Books about Poisonous Plants, Psychedelics:
Veneficium: Magic, Witchcraft & the Poison Path by Daniel A. Schulke
The Witches Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic by Thomas Hatsis
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