Known by the folk names "black nightshade," "devil's eye," "Jupiter's bean," and "poison tobacco," the henbane is a poisonous plant that was commonly used by sorcerers of old in rituals to conjure forth demons and "fantastic apparitions." It was also used in the art of weatherworking, as the plant was believed to hold the power to bring forth rain from the heavens above.
Like many of the Old World plants used by practitioners of the Black Arts, henbane was attributed with divinatory powers and employed by those who were masters of the art of prophecy. It was a main ingredient in sorcerer's salves and flying ointments, and many old grimoires indicate that henbane, along with opium and thornapple, were the three banes (poisonous herbs) most favored by devotees of sorcery.
Despite its toxicity, henbane was, at one time, an herb also associated with amatory enchantments. Interestingly, it was believed that a woman could be made to fall in love with a man if he wore or carried henbane in a charm bag. However, in order for the plant to work its magick effectively for the sorcerer, he needed to gather it at dawn. It was also imperative that he did it skyclad (nude) and while standing on one foot, according to the late Scott Cunningham in Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. There is no mention as to why this curious procedure stood on.
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