By Isabella @TheWandCarver
The Mandrake is native to southern Europe; however, it does have a “brother” plant in the US called Mayapple. European Mandrake comes from several species of the genus Mandragora, a member of the nightshade family. Despite the Mandrake root’s poison, it was used in early Chinese and European medicine as a pain reliever and sedative. I would not suggest anybody try this at home! Its fascination in Witchcraft came from the fact it often looks like the body of a tiny person. Below we shall explore the ways it was used in the past as well as some ways you can employ Mandrake today.
American Mandrake [Podophyllum peltatum], also called Mayapple or Wild Mandrake, has a skinny brown root that does somewhat resemble the fatter European Mandrake with its similarity to the human body. The Mayapple is very much as poisonous as is its European cousin so do handle with care. To my knowledge, the European Mandrake is only poisonous by the roots, however, every part of the American Mandrake is poisonous, apart from the small fruit which I hear tastes like apples [however, the seeds are poisonous], hence the name Mayapple. I think you would get more enjoyment from a regular apple, if I’m honest!
If you’re not confused yet, enter the English Mandrake. English Mandrake [or “false Mandrake”] is another name for White Briony [Brionia alba]. Briony is an invasive vine related to the cucumber. Apart from having large leaves and being poisonous when ingested, Briony doesn’t bear much resemblance to other Mandrakes. I felt I must mention this as I would not like to think anyone tried to use this in vain for real Mandrake.
Talking of real Mandrake. Be very careful. I have read that some sellers on eBay sell Mandrake root for great amounts of money. I am not saying they are necessarily selling you the wrong thing, but I can tell you that they may not be harvesting it correctly. Mandrake root should only be harvested in its fourth year. If people are selling Mandrake root to make a lot of dosh, chances are they are harvesting too soon in order to make that sale. And, if they can get away with it, very probably some of the Mandrake root being sold is fake. Buyer beware. You can grow your own and I’m sure there are many the reputable website or book which can tell you how to grow it properly. You will have to order your Mandrake seeds most likely from China or Greece or somewhere it is grown normally. Or, settle for American Mayapple which is recommended as a substitute for the European Mandrake and works just as well.
Many calls Basil the Witches herb. In that case, I would call Mandrake the Witches root. It is legendarily used in all kinds of magick. If you are a neo-Witch [beginner] you may have at least heard of it from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when the stalky plant, when uprooted, shrieks lethally. According to one legend which bears similarity to the Harry Potter film is that a Mandrake will emit an ear-piercing scream if uprooted, killing the person who digs it up. According to the stories, the only way to uproot the Mandrake safely is to plug one’s ears with wax and tie a rope between a Mandrake root and a dog’s tail. Back away from the root and throw the dog a bone or try to have it fetch a stick, and the dog will lunge for it. The Mandrake root will be uprooted by the dog’s sudden leap, and its shrieks will kill the hungry dog. Truth to tell, I wouldn’t know.
There have been, over hundreds of years, recipes and tinctures to imbibe which would give the Witch or cunning person a psychic edge. I won’t publish any of what I know here for I would never forgive myself if someone tried it and died, which is a very real outcome if you ingest Mandrake root or any parts of the Mayapple. Therefore, all ideas are for sympathetic magick only.
A dried Mandrake root placed on the mantelpiece is said to protect and bring happiness and prosperity to the household and it will also prevent demons from entering the home. Placed on top of money, it will make the money multiply.
A Mandrake root can be used as a poppet for sympathetic magick. It can also be carved into various shapes for magickal use.
The berries as well as the root are used in charms to increase fertility. Carried, it is said to attract love.
Add a bit of Mandrake root to your moon water and/or holy water for ritual use as it increase the power of any kind of solution you use in your practise, if it is not used to rub on your skin or to eat and drink.
The Mandrake root can be used as a familiar. You would give it food and drink daily or on a different schedule such as the full moon or dark moon only. You can give it milk, wine, whatever you like. Clean the Mandrake root figure, speak to it, form a relationship of sorts, and invite the spirit whom would be your “familiar spirit” to live within the Mandrake root and do your bidding. The thing I know about creating a familiar is that the one thing you don’t want to do is expect everything from it. It is best to choose one thing you want most from it and this way it will do its job well rather than having too many spirits enter all with different ideas.
It is also believed that disease can be transferred from an ill person to the Mandrake root by a Witch or cunning person, then the root is destroyed, effectively freeing the person from whatever ailed them.
Likewise, a Witch can exorcise a demonic spirit from a person and cage it within the Mandrake root, and of course, destroy the root leaving the once possessed person free of demonic plague.
Your altar tools, such as your athame, wand, and so forth, can be given extra power by including Mandrake root in whatever oil you use for the consecration of them. Just a few pieces dropped into say, a bottle of Myrrh [my oil of choice when consecrating my altar and tools] and left inside the oil will do the job. You can also use it in specific oils you might use for dressing candles to empower your candle magick.
Mandrake root is powerful for bringing prosperity into your life. Several ways of using it would be to put a piece of Mandrake root in your coin purse or wallet where the folding money is kept. Do take care not to put your fingers in your mouth afterwards. You wouldn’t die but you might get a little woogy! And, of course, one our favourite ways is using it as one of the nine ingredients in our Wealth Witch Bottle talisman which we sell in our shop. It can be worn to attract money to you, or it can be kept where you keep money to make it grow such as a safe or a home bank. If you have a home-based business, you can also hang it wherever you work. Mandrake root can be used in a money poppet which you can decorate in any way you see fit to draw money to you and good place to carry it would be in a handbag or a man bag if you’re a chap who carries one. Again, with adding the root to oils, add a few pieces of the root to Patchouli oil and put a few drops on your folding money to increase the attraction to more money.
Mandrake root is highly protective. Remember above where I mentioned adding the pieces of root to your homemade holy water? Use it to sprinkle round your home, particularly around doors and windows to protect from intruders.
The leaves [European Mandrake only] can be boiled in milk and used as a poultice for external ulcers.
This is where I leave it for, I am not qualified in any way as far as I’m concerned to tell anyone how or when to use Mandrake for health reasons. I have read many articles about it but the right dosages and so forth to do good and not harm are too iffy. Yes, I am aware that people through the years have used Mandrake for their health, still, as it is so poisonous, I’m just not going to try. I don’t mind giving some advice with the non-poisonous herbs, woods, leaves, etc but this one is not one I’ll recommend. So, if you insist on using it, please find the information elsewhere. Good luck and be careful, please.
Zodiac: Gemini and Virgo
Powers: Fertility, Money, Luck, Protection, Love
Deity: Circe, Hecate, Diana, Hathor and Saturn
Other Names: European Mandrake, Mandragora, Mandrake, Mandrake Apple, Pome Di Tchin, Satan’s Apple, herb of Circe, witches mannikin, sorcerer’s root, main-de-gloire, hand of glory, mangloire
Many thanks for reading my blog and warmest blessing to all whom this way wander x
The Witching Herbs: 13 Essential Plants and Herbs for Your Magical Garden by Harold Roth
The Mystic Mandrake by C.J.S. Thompson
The Encyclopaedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham