Herb Analysis: Mandrake, greatest ally of witches

No other plant has ever been associated more with witchcraft through the ages than the Mandrake root (mandragora officinarum). It has been respected by witches since time immemorial and it has been used extensively in magical and medical concoctions. Folklore and legends both good and bad are associated with the root which show the importance it played through history.

Since ancient times it has been used in recipes as an aphrodisiac and as and aid for impotency, to induce visions and free the spirit, to calm down nerves and to sedate patients in pain with severe wounds and to assist with rheumatisms. Of course, it has also been used extensively in magic.

A word of caution though, the Mandragora is poisonous and it contains tropane alkaloids such as hyoscyamine and atropine. A close relative to belladonna both belong in the species of Solanaceae, and internal consumption is not recommended. At higher doses, the Mandragora can cause delirium, madness and even death and it has to be respected in all ways.

Forms of the Mandragora (Mandrake) and their uses

The Mandragora species, as with all plants, is wide and differs from region to region. It usually has white to purple flowers and its leaves resemble those of lettuce. According to the scripts that I have access to witches acknowledged and used 2 main forms of the mandragora based on the shape of the root. The first one is that of a long solid root which due to its phallic form was used mainly as an ingredient in spells and magic that had to do with fertility, sex, love, virility and good luck, this was also used for money. This root would be cut into pieces and preserved to be used as a magical catalyst in all magical works. I will provide below more information on how this can be done.

The second form of the root which is the most popular yet rare was growing different branches resembling a human body with two arms and two legs stretching and the main body of the root was forming a head. The gender was determined after visual inspection of the root or if the witch was not certain s/he would cast a spell to contact the spirit of the plant and clarify the plant’s intentions and gender. The Mandragora would reveal how it would prefer to be used. This form of the root was never cut but used as whole in various ways which I am going to discuss focusing on the constructive ones. 

Witch Alliance with the Mandrake Root

The witch made an alliance with the plant and used the Mandragora spirit in his/her work or after agreement the root could act as a vessel for other spirits or familiars to live and feed from. The root was cleansed and fed as it was actually a living person. Traditionally, the root would be placed in a plate and fed with milk or wine on specific dates. Some witches did that every Friday, others claim that was either done in the Full Moon or Dark Moon based on the scripts I have access to.

Again, the Mandragora would reveal how and when it wanted to be fed. It was claimed that the Mandragora root would ease the pains of labour and ensure a successful labour if it was placed underneath the labouring bed in a plate filled with milk which also was mixed with milk from a breast feeding woman. The other variation is that the milk used for bathing the Mandragora could be consumed by a pregnant woman to ease the labour. I have personally never validated these claims and I am providing them for reference purposes only. A similar process is shown at the film ‘The Pan’s Labyrinth’. In addition, the Mandragora was stored in the house to protect the residence from intruders or malevolent people.

Finally, the Mandragora root was used in 2 very important ways which they were called the Sacrifice and you soon will understand why. The witch could transfer a life-threatening disease from the afflicted person in the mandrake root and then destroyed the root saving the patient. The other way was used in banishing demons/spirits in severe cases of possession by caging the demon/spirit from the person in the root. Again, the root was also destroyed in a ritual to send the unwanted back where they belong.

Myths and folklore: The Mandragora’s scream and the root extraction process!

In many texts, the extraction of the mandragora from the ground was considered a very dangerous process. It was said that when the root was extracted from the ground unwillingly it would emit a deadly scream capable of killing the person unearthing the root. Instead, the plant would be marked during daylight and offerings were placed (this needed to be replicated as the negotiation process could last more than a day). Communication with the spirit of the plant was also made to ensure that it will come out willingly.

However, if there was no agreement between the parties another method was employed which became very popular and can be found in many grimoires with different variations. A circle of salt would be made around the plant (in some cases 3 circles were advised) during a Full or Dark Moon (depending on how it was intended to be used) to minimise the impact of unearthing and a black dog was bound with rope to the plant. The witch would lure the dog with food in order to unearth the root. When this was done the scream of the Mandragora would kill the dog leaving the root exposed. The witch would cover it in cloth and place it in a special bag made for this purpose. Actual references to the bag are not available but it was made in a ritualistic manner. This legend is also described in the Harry Potter books and films where the students use earplugs to avoid hearing the scream of the mandrake which is shown as a baby. Finally, in some cases the unearthing process is described as a very delicate matter. This was due to the belief that any damage caused to the root while unearthing it would be replicated to the person/animal who dug it out without permission.

Myths on the location of the Mandragora (Mandrake)

There are different myths associated with the location of the second form of the mandragora. It is said that the plant would grow under the gallows where men were hung. The semen that was produced during ejaculation as a natural body response at the time of the hanging fed the earth and the mandragora would be born. 

Another variation says that the bodily fluids had to come from a person born in a family of thieves. In some scripts, the Mandragora is born from the semen of innocent men (or men that never had sex) that  were hanged given a second opportunity to live as a mandrake. A witch witnessing injustice would recite incantations for the man’s soul. Other scripts state that the mandragora would grow where the tears and the blood of the innocent fall on the ground.

The myth has some scientific claims, suffocation and subsequent increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the body can result in ejaculation as the body receives this imbalance as a sign of orgasm however, God Bless I have never witnessed the cruel and gruesome sight of hanging a man nor I have tried to see if a mandrake will pop up especially if the man is innocent. Such myths make me wonder how much human rights took to make a difference in the way we live, how much free time people had in their hands and what social activities they were involved with when TV was not present.

Finally, witches who believed that the root was associated with the souls of the men who were unjustly killed would gather and make offerings to the plant and the soul of the departed. This assisted in the negotiations with the spirit of the plant in order to willingly be their ally.  

The mandragora in Judaism and Christianity

Interestingly enough the mandragora appears in Judaism and Christianity. Mandrake in Jewish ‘dudaim’ means ‘plant of love’ and there is a reference to mandrakes in Genesis 30:14-16 after the harvest which I am going to describe below. 

Rachel, wife of Jacob who remains without children, agreed to let her sister Leah sleep with her husband after Leah’s son, Rueben, brings mandrakes home after the harvest. Rachel gets the mandrakes and Leah sleeps with Jacob as Rachel was the one who had occupancy of Jacob’s bed. In the end everybody is happy, Leah gives birth to three more children and after 11 kids Rachel gives birth to Jacob’s son, Joseph. Again one more story, that shows the many uses of this mystical root. The mandrake brought sex and fertility to the two sisters.

A popular Jewish formula based on the above story is the ‘Oil of Mothers’ which is popular in Israel. It is placed in specific oil lamps and along with prayers it is used for fertility and for getting a husband by women just like Leah and Rachel. I think you can imagine what is the main ingredient? You guessed it right- it is the mandragora!

Mandragora root preservation  and magical uses

As mentioned the first form of the mandragora was more extensively used and we are going to discuss more about its use as this is the one that is more commercially available and easier to find. So once you have obtained the mandrake root how you can preserve it and use it in your magical work.

Extract and powder of mandragora

For the extract you will need the following:

  • A jar
  • Alcohol
  • Mandrake root

The root needs to be chopped and I advise to grind or trim some parts of the root. Then you add it to the vase and fill it with alcohol. It needs to stay in the vase for at least 2 months, however the actual recording that I have is for 3 Full Moons. The jar needs to be shared every night asking the blessings of the root in the magical work. A simple phrase such as: ‘Oh Sacred root I call upon thee! Lend me your magical power to bless and empower my work’ is sufficient. Then the extract can be used in your magical work.

Mandragora, mandrake root extract
Real Mandragora, mandrake root extract – original – get it here

If you can grind a part of the mandrake root it can be left on a cloth in a dry place to dry out and you can use the powder in your magical work as well (usually it takes one lunar month). Personally I recommend to use part as an extract and part as the powder.

For visions A small amount of the powder (less than a pinch) and two drops of the extract on a charcoal disc will be enough to induce visions. Please remember not to overdo it with mandragora and I would recommend to mix it with anise seed and wormwood and use the mixture in an open space. If you decide to use it at home make sure that the room is aired effectively. 

The other directions which I have are for consumption which I have decided not to share for obvious reasons.

Mandragora as a catalyst

The Mandragora can be used as a magical catalyst in all magical works to empower the spell or the ritual. For example, you can use the extract when consecrating your ritual objects for extra power. In addition, a small mixture of the extract with the powder can be used to dress candles for ritual work. The extract and powder can be added on amulets and spells for extra power. Let your imagination guide you!

Against the Evil Eye

  • The leaves and powder can be added in all Evil Eye amulets for extra potency. Witches believed that the foul smell coming from the leaves is capable of averting the Evil Eye. For more information on the Evil Eye please read the relevant link.

For prosperity

  • Few drops of the extract can be sprinkled on your paper money bills and you can add the dust in your wallet to attract money your way. 
  • Another potent solution is to take a small amulet of a bat or a small plastic picture of it. Sprinkle mandragora extract to the bat to wake it up on the night of the Full Moon and place it in your wallet. As the bat makes its nest in your wallet so will money start nesting as well!

For protection

  • Take a piece of mandrake root and sprinkle it with holy water and salt. Put it in a cloth bag and carry it with you as a protection charm. Also add a personal amulet of protection such as a pentacle, a triquetra or cross for extra potency.
  • If you want to protect your house again sprinkle the mandrake root with holy water and salt. Take the root and place it in a small bag with a stone and bury it underneath your front door. The house will be guarded and protected.
  • For personal protection over crisis, mix cascarilla powder with a few drops of mandragora extract. Take a white candle, roll it on the mixture and with the rest create a circle around the candle. Light the candle and use an incantation for protection. 

Cascarilla powder recipe – click here!

For connection with spirits 

  • To assist with a seance or connection with spirits use a small pinch of powdered mandrake with two mastic resins and a pinch of dittany of crete. This mixture will assist with spirit manifestation.

For passionate sex wishes

  • This can get a bit messy so I give two options. Option 1 can be used by both men and women. Option 2 is only for women. As discussed earlier you can add mandragora in all spells to act as a  catalyst.
  • Option 1: Requires a worn underwear for at least a day which has been sprinkled with mandragora extract- be careful not to over do it a few drops will suffice. Create a mixture of sugar, vanilla and musk and sprinkle it with mandragora extract (for gay men you can add dried passionflower). Roll the candle on the mixture. Then write how you imagine the perfect sexual intercourse. Lay the underwear, place the candle on top of it and light it. Read the description of the perfect sexual intercourse and burn the paper. Let the paper burn in a fireproof plate next to the candle. Scatter the ashes into the wind. Bury the remains of the underwear and the candle in the earth. The spell should work within 9 days. Repeat if necessary.
  • Option 2: As mentioned this is only for women as it requires menstruation blood. You will need sugar, mandrake powder and a few drops of menstrual blood. Add the ingredients together and roll a red candle on the mixture. State your intention and let the candle burn. Bury any remains. The spell should work until the Moon is Full.

The uses of the mandragora are limitless however please remember to be conscious about the root’s properties and history and remember to treat it with respect. Let your imagination fly! 

I will follow up with additional uses of the mandrake root in the future, until then enjoy the magic!

Brightest Blessings,