Thursday, July 7, 2011

The banes.

Most of the herbs I use day to day are safely nourishing and able to be used in quantity. I drink them in infusions, tinctures and cook with them. Yet recently i find popping up, mostly in dreams, or shamanic journeys, some other pretty powerfull, and potentially poisonous plants. So far, Henbane (Gafaan, Hyoscyamus niger),  Hemlock ( Muinmhear, Conium maculatum) and Wolfsbane ( Fuath mhadhaidh, Aconitum napellus). Is it the call of the wild, or the draw of the dangerous?

This is the forest primieval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep voiced neighbouring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
                                                     Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Oddly enough the book I have with the most detail about these plants is in  a textbook on pharmacognosy from the 1930s designed to train pharmacists and medical practitioners of the day. They liked their plants potent, but referred to them as 'crude medicines'. They suggest hemlock as a sedative, one which by the way can kill you via parlysis with your mind totally concious till the end. Spine chilling stuff.

These same plants were allys of a different sort of practitioner in making their much spoken of flying ointments. Salves containing henbane, hemlock and friends rubbed on the skin to aid journeying, or 'flights'. Those chicks knew what they were doing, and would probably have used a specific harvest time and part of the plant to control dosage plus including some seemingly inert ingredients that play a role, knowledge I just dont have at this time. These plants are to be treated with caution, lest we travel roads from which we can no longer return, but also now, and in the past, they are teachers.

deep thou takes me, and far
travelling the world tree
to its rooted source, and branched heights
where dwell spirits and goddesses
remedies and brews remembered
i didnt even know i had forgotten

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