The Beautiful, Inflexible Lady; Belladonna

She is one of those very old witches, those famous ones, and she's enjoyed a reputation as a deadly lover.  Atropa has cutting wisdom and used her beauty to seduce unwitting admirers.  The lore surrounding her is much too apparent to bother going into here, so I will make her introduction brief: she is Saturnian in nature, allied to water, works the arts of sleep, seduction and spirit flight. She is the sister to Mandrake and the original performer in the famed "flying ointment".  Like Datura and Mandrake, she is a priestess in the garden of Hekate.  Her historical uses are in cosmetics; ones to give the skin pallor and dilate the pupil.

They call her "beautiful lady", and I imagine in person she must be very beautiful. I've never had the pleasure of her company; she's got restricted status in my state last time I checked.  Really, I was inspired to make her during my reading on Hexing Herbs.  Annnnnddd I like her so much that she'll be part of my "Thank You For Reading Via Hedera Belatane Give Away!".  That means you potentially have a choice between three original hand sculpted and painted statuettes from Via Hedera: Datura, Mandragora or Belladonna.  

Mandragora, The Earth Apple Witch

"And words they muttered, but what nine knew,
with motion slow of hand and foot:
Then into the cave the three withdrew,
And carried with them the mandrake root."
-Birds and Flowers: And Other Country Things by Mary Botham Howitt

Literary Quotes About Mandragora

"The myths surrounding Mandrake grew, until it was said the plant hid by day but shone like a star at night, and that when being pulled from the ground the plant let out such unearthly shrikes that whoever heard the noise might die."-Richard Evan Schultes, Albert Hofman, and Christian Ratsch, Plants of the Gods

"In ancient Egypt, the mandrake was a symbol of love and was a valued aphrodisiac.  It was usually depicted in association with eros and sensuality."- Christian Ratsch, Plants of Love

"The fruit is a berry, commonly known as a 'love apple', typically ripening to a bright orange at harvest time, which in the Mediterranean countries, occurs in May.  It is, however, the long taproot that gives Mandrake a special place in plant lore."- Michael Jordan, The Green Mantle

"On a day when the moon is waxing, preferably just after the new moon, some time between the winter solstice and vernal equinox, look for your mandrake in a hedgerow or piece of wasteland.  That night, making sure you are not observed, draw a deosil circle with your Athame around the plant and, using the knife as a digging implement, loosen the earth around the root.  Without injuring the main section of the root, gently draw the plant from the soil.  You will probably have to tug quite hard, and you may even hear the traditional "groaning" of the root as it leaves the earth."- Paul Huson, Mastering Witchcraft

"This root was the most powerful of all aphrodisiacs and amulets.  Awakening the root through a series of rituals, produced the little man of the gallows."- Christian Ratsch, Plants of Love

Mandragora, the Golden Apple of the Gods. She is a Circean priestess in the garden of Hekate, a black magician and love sorceress just like her sister Belladonna.  She is an eventide wandering witch, an aphrodisiac maker, a lucid dreamer, a friend of Hekate's Hounds. As a witch, she is mercurial, fiery in temperament, fertile and protective, but loving- the fruits of her poisonous love in magical use are said to stimulate the libido and bring fire to the body.  Her presence is said to make women ripe for child, make children peaceful in dreams and make the lonely irresistible. Like her sisters, she has the power to fly from the body and into that ethereal place where dreams and shadows come from. 

She is known as Alraun the Hexen, and is a loyal ally when cared for in her proper way. A lady of tradition and ritual, Mandragora demands to be fed and tended to, cared for as any friend ought to be. Some of the rituals involving her can be quite ghastly, involving corpses and semen and hanged men and black dogs. Mandragora is usually allied in root form, choosing this avatar to work her will in the homes of witches who keep her hidden in water and fed on blood in the dark corners of the home, or even in prominent places like headboards and mantles. According the some folklore, placing money near an object that even resembles Madnrake will draw and increase wealth to the wielder.  I've never had the pleasure of her company, but I've been inspired by the great deal of lore and legend around her.

She comes in many forms and varieties, this one is a mix of elements from English and Mediterranean Mandrake species, inspired mostly by Autumnalis and Officinarum.  I plan on making variety specific Mandragoras in the future but I wanted someone a little universal this time.  When I read about her lore, I was really inspired by the lore of her regarding time of day and the brightness of the plant at night, which is how I came up with the color placement; being reminiscent of both the purple and white and yellows of the flowers themselves and inspired by the way they are said to light up in the twilight evening and hide as men approach.  Rather than make little faces at the base of each bunch, I placed howlite and clay skulls to represents the little man of the gallows who rests beneath the dark crinkled leaves of the mandrake. A golden pearl was used to represent the ripest golden fruit (apple) in her care.  In her lap are five ripening fruit in a bed of leaves and resting in her right palm is the mandrake root herself, ready for activation in the water, in the dark.  Mandragora's lips are just barely parted, ready to sing her shriek of death if need be, ready to fly from her body if she must.

Are you interested in taking home Mandragora or Datura to your altar?  You will have a chance to WIN your choice between the two (or possibly more) this April!  Stay tuned for details!  To instantly qualify for give aways and freebees, you must like AND follow the Via Hedera Facebook page, OR follow Via Hedera Instragram,  OR be subscribed to Via Hedera Blog.  Unregistered readers will unfortunately not be counted in the random draws.

Moon Sign and Love Bind

confection kit: amorous potions and powders, teas and sugar box starters dusts and herbs- everything love witches need to make that very... creative, magic.  I work red work, I love red sugars and scents. In the upper right hand corner is blessed yohimbe, in the bottom left glass jars are love draw floor wash herb mixes and love draw bath herbs as well as sugar box starter- the herbs needed to give a solid foundation to sugar boxes.  I have three vials of cacao teas, and three herb sugars: lavender, stevia mint and clove red.  Incense and herbal talismans are a must for the kit, because they're the foundations in red work.
Things are always changing, in a state of flux at the whim of a trillion different experiences and conditions.  Life is changing this way and that, evolving and slowing and speeding up all at once. On the one hand, I'm working hard at getting a fresh inventory up for some future plans Sunflower and I have been working on.  I'm also working on my statue series more seriously than I had before.  After having been inundated with private requests over the last few weeks for custom work I have thought long and hard about the possibility of resuming customs and my heart just isn't in it right now.  I want to see my ideas come to life, not someone else's.  I have this vision in my head and I need to manifest it before I lose that power.  I do plan on private messaging those who've been staying interested about the possibility of taking on an idea when the mood strikes but for now, I have a goal and have to reach it.  

Speaking of goals, I went back to school.  I was technically already finished but I had an incomplete in the lab sciences so I'm finishing that out over the next quarter while taking ethnobotany workshops over the spring.  Then who knows, maybe I'll transfer to the Horticulture program or UW... after all, you never know.  What I do know is I set a goal, paid for it and now all I have to do is follow through.  I'm scared, I admit it, but not avoiding it was the hardest step.   My thelema is strong, baby.

I suppose I feel suffocated under the weight of wanting to get out and go somewhere new and maybe, just maybe, not look back.  So much sadness and disappointment and embarrassment is left behind me in my wake, I think I've reached that golden age where you aren't attached anymore and seek to find that greener grass on the other side- my eyes are finally looking forward with hope, not back with regret.  Where I will go and who with, I don't know... but I'm changing.  You can either follow or get out the way, but dammit, I'm going on.

A Love Nest Charm: collect a proper bindweed with whom you have a good relationship spiritually.  Let this be the kind that sweetly tangles and twines and produces beautiful flowers in summer and spring.  If your lover and you quarrel over attachment and passion, gather vetch and sweet-pea, if you need to reaffirm bonds and forsake others- gather morning glory.  Strawberry binds sweetness and fertility while creeping jasmine binds beauty and lust. Should you be celebrating a new commitment, periwinkle is an excellent binder.  Friday nearest the full moon, you wind the braided hair of you and your lover into a twisted hoop with a fresh bindweed, like winding a nest. You can anoint these binds in the oils and fluids of lovers or simply let it be and place it into a box kept near or under the bed.  While you wind and bind believe in your heart what you want. These make meaningful talismans to celebrate and strengthen new marriages, to mend fights with a loved one or to protect a love from outside influences, but I personally wouldn't use it for the obvious purpose to binding two people together. Not my cup of tea.  The box should be filled with sweetness; anise, sugar, allspice, rose materia, orange peel, cinnamon, cacao, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, damiana and sweetpeas.

Hairy Vetch

The full moon brought a good deal of creation with it.  Love draw bath powder, love-keep floor wash herbs, love-me powder.  The periwinkles and violets finally bloomed which signals spring coming to Riverton.  The Green River is starting to grow full of green and the rabbits are starting to spend their evenings outside more.  With the rise of light comes the inspiration that gives my spark of live its glow.  I've been blessing bottles of lavender sugar, stevia mint sugar, cinnamon clover sugar, planning business dreams with my friend, bringing beauty to the world around.  I've been quietly healing while absorbing the weight of fertility and lushness growing around me with every passing day into the flowering season.  I attended a workshop on herbal Aphrodisiacs at a local apothecary- Rainbow Natural Remedies and was pleasantly surprised by what I did not know.  The magic of that evening through learning and laughing tasted of coco brandy and damiana rose.  It was a refreshing reminder that Venus is my star, and her power is love, which means somewhere along that current, I will naturally fall.  I love, deeply.  I love art- art is god.  I love people, I love me, I love the vibrations of spring.

And I love you too. Take care.

Trumpets of the Devil: Sister Datura

Ever had one of those flirtations that was always tawdry and strong but never pursued?  I have that relationship with datura.  I am in no way initiated into her mysteries, I have a limited range of experiences with it on an occult herbal level but they were pretty easy to find back home in California when I was a kid.   I remember them as lovely angel and devil trumpets; flowers associated with love and dreams, madness and sweetness, travel and smoke.

Datura communicates with the spirits, through dreams mostly.  In a haze of smoke she will rise from her body into the wind and find the path to your ancestors.  Her company is nauseating though, she is toxic when abused and needs more to be tended to with worship than imbibed greedily.  That's her gift, she can speak with the spirits, she is wed to the dead.  She achieves her work by transforming and leaving her body.  She travels through roots and on the scent caught on a breeze.  She is deeply protective and does what she can to help those who need her, and will happily drive mad those who seek to abuse her wisdom.   She's lovely to look at, deadly to kiss.  Feminine, Saturnian, allied with water and sun, takes time to mature and requires great care in colder regions.

Datura comes in many shapes and sizes.  Sometimes white, purple, peach or periwinkle, sometimes smooth edged leaves, sometimes spiky points.  The wood is dark, the dried pods can be pale, the seeds can be dark or tan.  I adore her full thick trumpets and her fat flat leaves.  I love the way yellow-peach trumpets gather in long bunches and hang like drapes when well kept.  I love the way white moon flower trumpets face the sky like they are summoning angels and demons.  I love the violet frill around purple trumpets that make them look like elegant ladies dresses turned upside down. 
Her wooden bowl hols the seeds, dried leaves and flowers of different trumpet flowers I've collected over time.  in the center of her chest is a single black datura seed given to me by a fellow witch.  
She isn't meant to stay here with the sisterhood,  She isn't part of the world of vice like her cousins.  Rather, she is in the coven of poisoners; the old witches herbs who require a deep level of mastery and a greater deal of caution.  That coven includes Papaver, Mandragora, Belladonna and the others sisters of the deadly delights... And so, Datura is part of the two statuettes who will be given away at Beltane to a lucky dedicated reader and participant.  Remember this beautiful lady and wait patiently for her sister, because one of your choice can be yours when you participate.  Details will follow soon, so check in leading up to Beltane!

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