So I have decided to discuss the herbs mentioned in my book every Monday and that includes the "bad" with the "good".
I say that because belladonna is mentioned quite a few times in The Silver Cord, and I wanted to make sure everyone realized what a powerful and poisonous plant it is.
That being said, Please Do NOT mess with this plant. You have been warned!
Belladonna AKA Deadly Nightshade (See? Poison. They wouldn't nick name it deadly for nothing.)
It is a perennial plant whose leaves and berries are extremely toxic. Back in the day, it was used as medicine and for cosmetic purposes, as well as a hallucinogen. When I say 'back in the day' read 'before they had a clue' and please don't mess with this plant at home folks!
Here is some info taken from Wikipedia about the plant:
Why is it called Belladonna?
"The common name belladonna originates from its historic use by women - Bella Donna is Italian for beautiful lady. Drops prepared from the belladonna plant were used to dilate women's pupils, an effect considered to be attractive and seductive. Belladonna drops act as an muscarinic antagonist, blocking receptors in the muscles of the eye that constrict pupil size. Belladonna is currently rarely used cosmetically, as it carries the adverse effects of causing minor visual distortions, inability to focus on near objects, and increased heart rate. Prolonged usage was reputed to cause blindness."
See? DON"T MESS WITH IT.
It has been used for many different reasons. But why would I use it in the book?
What does it have to do with witches?
See, Belladonna would be mixed with other horrible poisonous plants and used as a 'Flying Ointment' by witches. They would rub it on themselves and "fly" around the bonfire (with their besoms - or brooms) in a dreamlike state (hallucinating). Not unlike Indians with peyote. It was a divination tool, not a safe one, but one that was used in the past.
So there you have it, Belladonna - don't mess with it!