Belladonna is a well-known nightshade poisonous plant, described by its allure, connected to witches throughout the ages, both in ancient and modern literature or movies such as “Practical Magic” (1998).
The use of belladonna throughout the ages varies, some for its temptation to beautify in ancient times and for its ability to induce hallucinations through witches’ ointments.
In this post, we’ll discuss about the plant belladonna:
- What belladonna is and where belladonna is from
- Uses of belladonna in traditional medicine and pharmacology
- Uses for working with belladonna in magick, spells and witchcraft
- Astrological correspondence to belladonna
- Deities connected to belladonna
- Resources, books and links to further your study about belladonna
Word of Caution about Belladonna:
If you’ve read this far, it’s important to note that belladonna should never be consumed, eaten or taken internally.
When handling belladonna or other poisonous plants/herbs, extra caution is needed such as wearing gloves, having a special area or space to work with the 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 belladonna 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 belladonna should be used with extreme caution.
Working with Belladonna in Witchcraft
What is Belladonna?
Belladonna (lat. Atropa belladonna) is part of the Solanaceae family of plants, commonly known as nightshades.
This family of plants includes other toxic plants such as henbane, but also others that are common and non-toxic such as potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco.
Belladonna (“Beautiful Lady”) is described as growing 1.5 meters in height having dull green leaves, a tapered root and includes flowers and sweet dark berries that have been tempting to those drawn to them.
These dark berries are the reason belladonna also has the name “Devil’s cherry.”
Belladonna contains tropane alkaloids which include atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine which are known to have anticholinergic properties.
These alkaloids have been used in medicine (often now as synthetics) for treatment of certain conditions and illnesses.
The root of belladonna is considered the most toxic part of the plant; however this can vary and generally every part of the plant is toxic.
When handling or working with any part of belladonna, it’s always advised to wear gloves to avoid contact with the plant and skin.
Belladonna begins to flower in the months of June or July and continues to bloom until September, which then the berries begin to ripen at that time.
These berries are particularly sweet and are known to be tempting to children which is highly advised to keep these plants out of gardens where children are unsuspecting of them.
While commonly known as belladonna, this plant is known also by these names:
- Devil’s cherry
- Devil’s herb
Where is belladonna found?
Belladonna is native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia commonly found in wooded areas, wastelands, and quarries.
However, belladonna can be found in different parts of the world including England, France, and North America.
Belladonna in Traditional Medicine and Pharmacology
Belladonna has medicinal alkaloids hyoscyamine, hyoscine (scopolamine) and atropine (however, very toxic) which have been used in medications such as sedatives and stimulants.
Many of these medicinal traits have been created in synthetics to avoid the toxicity of these alkaloids in the original form.
In traditional medicine (i.e. older medicine), belladonna has been used for treating various conditions such as:
- Narcotic pain reliever
- Motion sickness
- Muscle relaxant
- Menstrual pain reliever
- Joint pain
- Nerve pain
Symptoms of Belladonna poisoning include:
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity (eyes)
- Dry mouth
- Pupil dilation
- Inability to sweat or urinate
- Rapid heartbeat
- Heart arrhythmia
- Respiratory failure
A child can easily succumb from eating only two berries of belladonna, while for an adult only 10 to 20 berries consumed can prove fatal.
*An oral overdose of belladonna is only 600 milligrams and only 1 part to 130,000 parts of water is enough to dilate the pupils. (*Source: U.S. Forest Service)
Belladonna in Witchcraft, Magick and Spells
The use of belladonna is modern witchcraft and magick is often not recommended due to the high toxicity of the plant and berries.
Belladonna is not usable in the same ways as other common herbs and plants in most spells, charm bags and magick.
However, belladonna is still associated with witches and witchcraft as an alluring plant based on its ancient history and medieval texts.
Belladonna is described for these uses in witchcraft:
- Astral travel
- Glamour magick (be seen a certain way / get what you want)
For a safer alternative for using belladonna yet effective for bewitching, try this bewitching oil by The Witchery.
The use of glamour magick in connection with belladonna comes from the historical accounts that ancient Roman women would use the juice of the belladonna berries to dilate their pupils so to appear more beautiful (not recommended or advised!)
The mere fact of this practice involved the hazard of overdosing and other poisonous effects.
If interested in glamour magick by much safer and recommended means, try Glamour Magic by Deborah Castellano.
Belladonna is most commonly known for its connection in flying ointments and the myth of witches flying on broomsticks, which the application of a “flying / witch’s ointment” on a broom handle between the legs allowed the absorption of the ointment to induce hallucinations.
To know more about flying ointments, be sure to read this article by Occvlta about flying ointments and the Poison Path.
Belladonna and Astrology
Belladonna is connected to the planet Saturn; however, other sources also link this deadly nightshade with Pluto and/or Mars.
Many toxic and poisonous plants are connected to Saturn as the planet relates to death, limitations, and endings.
Working with Saturnian elements or plants doesn’t always have to be connected to death but can help to realise one’s own limitations and learn to work within them.
Belladonna and Deities
Belladonna is connected to the goddesses Bellona, Circe, and Hekate.
Bellona is the Roman goddess of war; her Greek equivalent was Enyo. Her counterpart or brother is sometimes said to be the god Mars/Ares.
Bellona’s festival was celebrated on June 3 and a temple to her was dedicated in 296 BCE.
Hekate is the Greek goddess of magic, witchcraft, and necromancy, just to name a few of the domains under this goddess. Try this Hekate Tarot Spread for yourself.
Circe is the Greek enchantress and sorceress, the daughter of Helios and Perse (an ocean nymph) or the goddess Hekate. Some sources connect Circe with the plant belladonna while others refrain from it.
Find out more about Circe and correspondences, check out this article by Keeping Her Keys.
Belladonna can be connected to the planet Mars which links the feminine attributes of this plant to Bellona.
The Plutonian aspects of belladonna and its bewitching attributes can connect it to Hekate and Circe.
Working with these goddesses and the connection to belladonna can be powerful to get what one wants at any cost.
Resources and Links about Belladonna
Belladonna Info | Botanical
Flying Ointments as Medicine | Bane Folk
Belladonna Flower Essence | Bane Folk
A Collection of Belladonna Lore| Patheos
Herbarium: Magical and Medicinal Uses of Belladonna | Flying the Hedge
Images of belladonna and information | U.S. Forestry Service
The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic by Thomas Hatsis
Veneficium: Magic, Witchcraft & the Poison Path by Daniel A. Schulke
Images designed in Canva.