Mysterious Mandrake

Mandrakes, or Mandragora Officinarum, are deeply rooted in magical folklore and mythology. Originally, because of their shape, they were thought to be helpful in aiding reproduction. Women who wished to conceive a child would sleep with a mandrake root under their pillow. 

Over time, most likely because of their success, people began using them in other ways to improve areas of their life. They were worn to attract luck and wealth, and even to hold power over someone’s destiny. Because they were highly popular, it became necessary to protect them from theft. Tales of the Mandrake’s curse began to circulate and elaborate rituals involving ways to uproot them were created.

The curse stated that the root was inhabited by a demon who would kill anyone who tried to uproot it, and this is likely where the idea that it had a ‘deathly scream’ when pulled up came from. The rituals went as far as involving horns, dogs, iron tools, wax, certain ways the wind must blow, and certain ways to face while uprooting the mandrake. 

In addition to its mysteriously shaped root, it also had hallucinogenic properties. Before the rise of the Roman Empire, and continuing into the Middle Ages, it was used in medical procedures both as a tincture and an anaesthetic.

The tale of how the mandrake came to be is as dark as its apparently demonic ways. Earning them the name ‘Little Gallows Man’, it was believed they were created from the semen of hanged men as it fell to the ground after execution. So because of all of this, its mysterious origins and the metaphysical and mind-altering properties, the mandrake root has deep ties to witchcraft and the magical realm. It’s even said it glows in the dark.

Jenna is a pagan and lifelong student of history. She's the potion expert at High Priestess, and also designs tarot decks, oracle decks, and powerful ritual oils.