The mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) is perhaps the most magickal of all plants associated with spell casters of old. This highly toxic plant is potent in all forms of enchantment, from the most tender of love spells to the most evil of curses. It has also been used, among other purposes, to divine the future, gain arcane knowledge, awaken or increase a person's clairvoyant powers, attract good luck, lead its master or mistress to the location of buried or hidden treasure, attract money, promote fertility in barren women, and work (reputedly) as a powerful aphrodisiac.
The part of the mandrake most commonly employed in magickal workings is the plant's curious human-shaped root. In medieval times, they were often dried, powdered, and then added to ointments that were said to endow Witches with the powers of flight and sorcerers with the powers of invisibility.
To properly harness the energies of a mandrake root, according to occult tradition, you must first pull it from the earth on a night when the moon is full. Some magicians claim
that a mandrake will work its magick only for the individual who uproots it, thus rendering store-bought roots useless, aside from being collector's items and curiosity pieces. The next step, which is outlined in my book, Magick Potions, calls for the mandrake root to rest in your house, undisturbed, for a period of three days. On the third night, the root must be put into a bowl or small cauldron of water and allowed to soak overnight. At sunrise, take the mandrake root from the bowl or cauldron, dry it thoroughly, and then dress it in a piece of silk cloth and do not allow anyone, other than yourself, to touch the root or even gaze upon it. This is basically the same procedure that the sorcerers of old followed in order to activate the mandrake root's mysterious occult powers.
The mandrake is sacred to a number of Pagan deities, including Hecate and Diana, and to the legendary sorceresses, Circe (Greek) and the Alrauna Maiden (Teutonic). Its association with the Black Arts was no doubt responsible for its acquisition of such folk names as the "warlock weed" and the "devil's candle."
"Who may fynde a true mandrake and lay him between a pair of white sheets and present him meat and drink twice a day, notwithstanding then he neither eateth nor drinketh, he that does it shall become rich within short space. "
—Gospelles of Dystaues, 1507.
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