Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)
Official Name: Atropa belladona
Other Names: Banewort, Bleck Cherry, Deadly Nightshade, Death's Herb, Devil's Cherries, Divale, Dwale, Dwaleberry, Dwayberry, Fair Lady, Great Morel, Naughty Man's Cherries, Sorcerer's Berry, Witch's Berry
Deities: Hecate, Bellana, Circe
Metaphysical Powers: Astral Projection, Divination
Common Ritual Uses and Magickal Uses and Folklore
According to ancient tradition, the priests of Bellona drank an infusion of Belladonna before worshiping Her and invoking Her aid. Bellona is the Roman Goddess of War.
Today Belladonna is little used in herb magic due to its high toxicity--all parts of the plant are highly poisonous, and there are still reports of death resulting from accidental ingestion of nightshade.
Belladonna was used to encourage astral projection and produce visions, but safer alternatives are available today, and Belladonna is best avoided.
IF YOU ARE HANDLING BELLADONNA, BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL. MAKE SURE YOU WASH YOUR HANDS AND ANY ITEM IT TOUCHES THOROUGHLY. IT IS EXTREMELY POISONOUS.
Belladonna is probably one of the most well-known herbs among witches. Sometimes referred to as Deadly Nightshade or Dwale (coming from the Scandinavian dool meaning "sleep"), the name Belladonna stems from the Latin bella-donna, meaning "beautiful lady," as the Romans valued this plant for its unusual cosmetic attributes. Belladonna synthesizes atropine, an alkaloid that is assimilated rapidly into the bloodstream. Upon penetrating the bloodstream, it produces many symptoms. According to folklore, 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." With these symptoms is dilation of the pupils, which the women of the Roman aristocracy welcomed. Belladonna juices were extracted and dropped into the eyes to expand the pupils, making the eyes appear large, dark, and appealing. It is well documented that dilated pupils are a sign of sexual arousal and attract the opposite sex; thus, Belladonna was used by Roman women to lure men. However, unless the dosage was just right, Belladonna would often create a glassy, staring appearance as the pupils would be primarily motionless.