Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Saturday, February 25, 2017


I've read a lot of herbals over the course of my life as a pagan, both general ones and those considered magical ones.

One of my complaints about occult herbals is they often ignore the fact that traditionally magical (sorry, I find the 'k' used in the neo-Pagan parlance to be asinine, so you won't find it here--if you can't distinguish real magic from stage magic otherwise, it's not being done right)  herbs are also often quite poisonous.  I once told someone at a Unitarian church lecture who kept going on about how good herbs are for you and how they are all natural, so they couldn't hurt anyone that I knew plants that would kill her dead in a few moments. That's a silly assertion for her to make, but she was someone who didn't bother to research, had no critical thinking, and probably has never actually grown an herb garden in her life (or read any good murder mysteries, for that matter). Monkshood is a very pretty plant. The aconite inside, however, is deadly. Jimson weed (datura) and deadly nightshade grow wild around here. I once had to tell my grandmother's nursing home to remove the castor bean plants in the courtyard because the seeds, which someone might eat, are very poisonous and contain ricin, a poison you hear in the news occasionally.

So it was nice to find a book at the library today that had the following warning regarding belladonna. I can't review the book yet, as I haven't read it thoroughly or run it by a friend who is better at this than I (I don't actually practice, myself), and I just have theoretical knowledge when it comes to magical plants. Still, it was nice to see something that would prevent the unwary from harming themselves or others. It's called The Witching Herbs by Harold Roth. I'm not familiar with the author, but at least he doesn't have a pretentious and silly pen name. That's a plus with me. But I grew up as a baby pagan in the Rosemoon Guild, the first public (at the time) pagan organisation in Lexington, and they didn't tolerate too much silliness. Even the silliest of us tended to be more grounded than many outsiders, thanks to some of the group's founders. Even though we eventually withdrew from actively seeking members, that early experience helped me immensely, and I've continued to benefit from membership.

Cover of The Witching Herbs
Warning regarding belladonna

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