Of all of Europe’s plants the Mandrake is the most mythical. The bifurcated root resembles a miniature human. The medieval bestiaries told that when the Mandrake was uprooted the plant would scream killing all those who heard it.
This root as well as having the ability to produce a deathly scream also contains there different hypnotics and hallucinogens. Whilst the fruit and seeds contain toxins that can lead to asphyxiation if ingested.
Josephus c45 AD offers the following advice for pulling up the Mandrake:
“A furrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this, the root can be handled without fear.”
Unsurprisingly the Mandrake is a major ingredient in magic spells and features in the witchcraft of every culture.
Here in Facinas it grows abundantly on the hillside, most particularly around the ancient neolithic prayer stone… a coincidence, maybe, but it is not a plant to be uprooted on a moonless night under these ancient tombs…