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Mandrake: Folklore, Spiritual & Magical Attributes

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Mandrake (Atropa mandragora formerly Mandragora officinalis) has large, broad leaves that emerge directly from the base in a circular cluster. Flowers appear each on a separate stalk and are bell-shaped and white with a purplish tinge. The smell of the plant is generally unpleasant. The roots resemble a parsnip and can run up to four feet deep underground. They may be single or branched.

This plant is native to Southern Europe.

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.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Mandrake, steeped in history and folklore, has been a mystical and revered plant for centuries, associated with legends of its anthropomorphic root resembling a human figure.

Folklore: Mandrake’s twisted roots have long captured the imagination, leading to its association with magical properties and superstitions. In folklore, it is often depicted as possessing potent magical powers, including the ability to induce visions, enhance fertility, and bring fortune or misfortune to those who possess it.

Spirituality: Mandrake is revered in spiritual practices for its connection to the earth and its perceived ability to bridge the mundane and spiritual realms. It is sometimes used in rituals or ceremonies aimed at enhancing psychic abilities, connecting with ancestral spirits, or accessing the wisdom of the natural world.

Magickal Uses: In magickal traditions, Mandrake is prized for its potent energies and versatile applications. It can be used in spells or rituals related to protection, healing, fertility, and manifestation.

History and Folklore

The name Mandragora comes from the Greek meaning “hurtful to cattle”.

The Anglo-Saxons considered mandrake, as well as periwinkle, the definitive herbs for use in cases of demonic possession.

The ancients imagined Mandrake root to look human in form and was often pictured in various texts as a man with a very long beard, or a woman with a very bushy head of hair.

 Los beneficios y perjuicios de la mandrágora en el tratado Tacuinum Sanitatis (ca. 1450)

If the root was split into two, it was considered female. If not, it was male. The Female roots were the most valuable and believed to be a useful charm to promote luck and wealth.

Folklore BeliefDescription
Magical PlantMandrake has long been associated with magical properties and believed to possess supernatural powers. It was often considered a potent ingredient in various spells and rituals.
Shrieking RootsAccording to folklore, when the mandrake root was pulled from the ground, it emitted a shrieking sound that could be deadly or drive people to madness.
Protective TalismanMandrake roots were sometimes used as protective talismans or charms to ward off evil spirits, bring good luck, or protect against witchcraft.
Table 1: Folklore and Mythology of Mandrake

The plant was said to grow under the gallows of murderers, sprung from the bodily drippings of criminals and to shriek when dug up. The sound would kill a man or drive him insane. So, to avoid this fate, you were supposed to tie a dog to the plant and he would pull it up and die in the man’s place.

Some legends say that you could harvest only after sunset, or that you must draw a circle with a sword or wand three times around the plant before harvesting. Once harvested, a witch must wash it in wine and wrap it in silk for storage.

Little dolls were sometimes made of mandrake roots and kept to aid the household and answer important questions. Possession of one of these mandrake dolls could be used as evidence during witch trials.

Mandrakes are mentioned in the Bible; Leah bought a night with Jacob from Rachel with some Mandrakes which Rachel wanted to help her conceive. It may also have been mentioned in the Song of Solomon.

Magical Use

Mandrake is masculine, ruled by Mercury and fire and associated with Circe, Hecate, Diana, Hathor, and Saturn.

A dried mandrake root placed on the mantelpiece will protect and bring happiness and prosperity to the household. It will also prevent demons from entering. Placed on top of money, it will make the money multiply.

A mandrake root can be used as a poppet for sympathetic magic. It can also be carved into various shapes for magical use.

Magical AttributeDescription
Power in SpellsMandrake was often associated with potent magical properties and used in various spells or rituals for love, fertility, protection, and to enhance magical abilities.
Divination and ProphesySome believed that carrying or placing mandrake root under the pillow could induce prophetic dreams or enhance divination practices, providing insight into the future.
Spirit CommunicationThe plant was believed to facilitate communication with spirits or ancestors and was used as an aid in spiritual journeying or contacting the spirit realm.
Banishing NegativityMandrake was sometimes employed in rituals to banish negative energies, break curses, or remove obstacles, with the root serving as a powerful tool for purification.
Table 3: Magical Attributes and Ritual Use of Mandrake

The berries, as well as the root, are used in charms to increase fertility. Carried, it is said to attract love. It is also used in aphrodisiac spells.

Mandrake intensifies magick in any situation. Ingestion of a small amount is said to increase psychic abilities and creativity, but this is not recommended as mandrake is poison.

Add a bit of mandrake root to your moon water preparation for ritual use, but remember that it is toxic, so don’t drink it!

Mandragorae radix

Healing Use

This plant is poison! While it has been historically used medicinally, there are many safer options available to you today.

The leaves can be boiled in milk and used as a poultice for external ulcers.

Healing AttributeDescription
Pain ReliefIn traditional medicine, mandrake was used as an analgesic to alleviate pain and treat various ailments such as rheumatism, neuralgia, and menstrual cramps.
Sedative and Sleep AidMandrake was considered a natural sedative and sleep aid, used to promote relaxation and assist with insomnia or sleep disorders.
Anti-InflammatoryThe plant was also believed to possess anti-inflammatory properties and was used topically to reduce swelling, soothe skin irritations, and treat minor wounds.
AphrodisiacMandrake was sometimes regarded as an aphrodisiac, believed to enhance desire and stimulate sexual potency.
Digestive TonicThe root was used as a digestive tonic to alleviate indigestion, stimulate appetite, and support overall digestive health.
Table 2: Healing Properties and Medicinal Uses of Mandrake

The root is a powerful emetic and hallucinogen and if used internally, only with great caution, if at all. It is said in large doses to incite delirium and madness, though it was once used as a sleep aid, for those who were in too much pain to sleep. Pieces were also given patients to chew when they were about to undergo surgery.

Externally, the roots combined with alcohol make a rub for rheumatism.

Cultivation

Seeds should be as fresh as possible and scattered over well-tilled, light soil in the fall. They should be kept moist and weed-free and not transplanted after the first year. Keep it in a sheltered position in full sun.

The roots should be dug in the third or fourth year.

Comments

Mandrake root is a hallucinogen, but it is also a very powerful emetic. It can also be used to help you sleep, but it is also a very powerful emetic.

That being said, unless you want to poop your bed, vomit all over yourself, and wake up from a really bad trip in the emergency room your helpful and really worried friends took you to, use something else to get stoned.

American Mandrake Podophyllum pellatum, also known as Mayapple has no relation whatsoever to this plant. However, it is often used in place of it in spells.

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About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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