Belladonna was a poisonous plant prized by sorcerers of centuries past, who used it to induce psychic visions and astral projections. Known by many as "deadly nightshade," belladonna was also a popular ingredient in magickal poisons used by some sorcerers to inflict death or madness upon their enemies and rivals. According to The Warlock's Book by Peter Haining, "fourteen of its berries will produce death. Half that number will cause wild excitement and delirium."
Witches of old were said to have used belladonna in their flying ointments and cauldron brews. Although extremely toxic, belladonna was also used in a number of folk cures and even consumed (in very small quantities) by those who desired to see into the future.
Belladonna was also believed by many to keep evil spirits at bay. Sprigs or garlands of the plant were often placed around the home or hung over beds and cradles to protect sleeping adults and children from the evils that lurked in the night. Ironically, belladonna was also used by many farmers to guard their livestock against sorcery, despite its widespread reputation for being one of the spellcasters' most favored banes and the old saying that this plant was tended by the Devil himself.
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