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The Poison Society: A Witch's Gallery of Baneful Herbs

  • The Sacred Well 5816 Dunsmuir Avenue Dunsmuir, CA, 96025 United States (map)

This Class is IN PERSON OR VIA VIDEO at a distance.
In-person locations will be Youngstown, OH and Dunsmuir, CA
Video component will be via Zoom.

Sliding scale $15-25, no one turned away for lack of funds.


Throughout history, we have been told fairy tales and myths and legends featuring witches. Many of them have featured herbs, in one way or another, such as the Nightshade that lent itself to the apple that sent Snow White into an enchanted sleep. Many of these herbs are still in use today, including herbs traditionally grown in a witch's poison garden: Poppy, Mandrake, Deadly Nightshade, Foxglove, Hellebore, Henbane, Thornapple (Datura) and Wolfsbane to name a few. This Poison Society conjures up visions of a witch cackling and stirring her cauldron.

These herbs have a deeper meaning than their surface reputation, however. They are some of the herbs traditionally associated with Hecate, Goddess of Witchcraft, Necromancy of Night and Death, Maiden of wisdom and change, Queen of the Crossroads. These plants, with their dark leaves and flowers that are often purple or white, mimic images of secret faces, hexes and curses, magic performed in the dark and never spoken about. These plants grow in the wild, away from the gingerbread cottage, and are often ruled by Saturn or Mercury, indicating they are plants that can have unpredictable and potentially deadly effects. These are the herbs that must be used with caution, with crone or sage wisdom and clear sight. Small doses can bring about huge amounts of change, and larger doses can kill.

At the end of this class you will:

-Be aware of some native and naturalized baneful plants that were historically associated with witchcraft and magic

-Be familiar with the recurring theme of active constituents – the alkaloids – and have an idea of the actions they could provoke in our bodies and minds

-Have learned about the historical and modern uses of each plant thereby gaining an insight into our ancestor’s excellent knowledge of baneful plants

-Be aware of useful identification features for each plant covered

-Be able to classify the plants discussed into the category of generally safe or poisonous.

Instructors Jim Sayers, CNC, and Yeshe Matthews are herbalists, witches, and science geeks who relish the study of magic and the natural world. Jim is the herbalist at House of Life Botanicals, and a local coordinator for Herbalists Without Borders in Youngstown, OH and Yeshe Matthews is a folk herbalist who has studied and taught about the poison path for over a decade through her shop, The Sacred Well in Dunsmuir, CA.

Questions? Please call (530)500-5935. Want to sign up? Click this link!

Earlier Event: October 13
Writing Down the Magick - 10/13
Later Event: October 19
13 Days of Ancestral Healing