Although every plant on Earth possesses its own magic powers, some are specifically identified with witchcraft. These make up the majority of the plants featured within this section. (A few exceptions are those significant to the history of witchcraft.)
Imagine the first people on Earth, wandering through primordial forests, overwhelmed by this green world. In the beginning, there must have been too many plants of which to keep track but after a while, as with anything, individual natures would emerge. Some plants were discovered to be wonderfully nutritious or seductively delicious. Others were sources of water when none else could be found. Some plants were fonts of healing. Some eased labor pains, stimulated milk supply, or discouraged pregnancy when it was unwanted. Some plants just made you feel good. Inhaling their fragrance relieved your mind of worries. Inhaling other fragrances made you drop whatever else you might be doing and focus single-mindedly on romance instead. Other plants turned out to be the equivalent of keys: they opened the doors to other realms. Some provided portals to the spirits. And then there were those dangerous plants: should you taste even as little as a berry or perhaps just touch the wrong leaf before putting your fingers in your mouth, the results could be fatal. One definition of modern witchcraft is that it is the surviving remnants of Paleolithic spiritual traditions focused on sacred plants and the beverages brewed from them. Witches, then, are devotees but also ritual leaders—those experts who understand the nuances, gifts, and dangers of the most volatile plants.
Formerly sacred plants evolved into witchcraft plants. The plants didn’t change but attitudes towards them did. These plants, for one reason or another, tend to be ones that must be handled with care and expertise so as to avoid danger, damage, death, and disaster. Once upon a time, the skill and knowledge required to safely handle and manipulate these plants was admired.
In general, “witchcraft plants” fall into several categories. The following are not mutually exclusive. Many witchcraft plants fall into several categories at once.
• Witchcraft plants offer power over life and death. Some exert powerful influences over the human reproductive system. These include fertility enhancers, menstrual regulators, herbal contraceptives, and abortifacients. Aphrodisiacs, those plants that promote sexual interest and ability, may be included in this category too.
• Just as some plants are identified with birth and life, others have associations with death, whether for spiritual reasons or because the particular plant is deadly poisonous, or both.
• Some plants possess the power to intoxicate; they stimulate the euphoria sometimes crucial to shamanism, witchcraft, and some spiritual rituals. They stimulate joy, exultation, and feelings of well-being, at least temporarily.
• The modern term “entheogen” describes substances that are gateways to visionary experiences. Used with knowledge, skill, and experience, these substances may unlock portals so that the shaman and witch can journey and fly.
Witchcraft plants include wild, uncultivated plants that resist domestication, prickly, stinging plants that assert powerful boundaries, and poisonous and psychoactive plants. Many witchcraft plants are associated with the moon and with female reproduction and sexuality.