Dressed as Mother Nature, a good witch, my Halloween lecture for a botany course I taught was about poisonous plants with popcorn snacks.
Verbena Rudbeckia and Her Monster Plants
How might a witches' garden look?
The Witches' Garden
In the witch's garden,
The gate is open wide.
"Come inside," says the witch,
"Dears, come inside."
"No flowers in my garden,
Nothing minty, nothing chivey."
"Come inside, come inside,
See my lovely poison ivy."
By Lilian Moore (1909-2004)
Poirot: Halloween Party Music (2010) - "Secret Garden" - Also known as "Magic Garden"
With the dubious help of the grisly old village witch and the wildly speculative mystery writer Ariadne Oliver, Poirot investigates old sins and discovers connections between a years-old stabbing and the creation of a Quarry garden.
Curious Children and Adults
October is the time for witches, goblins and exotic looking plants and fruit. While some of autumn's most attractive plants are great for cooking and seasonal decorations, others are poisonous and indeed belong in a witch's garden. It's almost as if they scheme with witches to cry out "Touch Me!" and "Taste Me."
Colorful plants look attractive to average toddlers and preschoolers, and sometimes festive-looking leaves and fruit attract even older children and adults. There is a bit of squirrel in each of us, and unsuspecting adults gather unknowns in hopes that what looks good will taste good. The best defense against poisoning from plants is knowledge and good practice.
Children are drawn to brightly-colored fruit more than leaves. However, if they are accustomed to seeing adults working in a garden munching on bits if herbs or walking through wooded areas nibbling on tasty twigs of sweet birch (Betula lenta), they may be tempted to experiment on their own.
Poem 'The Rose' from the book "The Temple" (1633) by George Herbert (1593 - 1633)
From: The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes by John Gerarde [or Gerard]
"What is fairer than a rose?
What is sweeter? Yet, it purgeth."
Norton and Whittaker: London, 1633, p.1263, lists the medicinal properties of roses.
Know your poisonous plants!
Witches and Their Images - Fact or Fiction
Witch images have been with humans since antiquity. All images change along the way. Images of witches continue to change. Do they still need black cats to maintain an image? Do they still need to be surrounded by evil or poisonous plants?
Witch on Bicycle Garden Spinner
'The Winter's Tale' William Shakespeare
"Here's flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age."
Amazon Books on Poisonous Plants - Familiar Plants. Some Good, Some Nasty. Learn to Know the Difference.
Plants have always been thought to be powerful. Now, we know that they contain nasty chemicals that can injure both humans and animals. Witches know their plants by extensive and careful study.
COTTON MATHER (1663-1728) Puritan, Congregational Minister and Author - Excerpt from the "Angel of Bethesda"
Before the Age of Enlightenment texts like The Angel of Bethesda explained many illnesses in a spiritual context, attributing illnesses to demonic and divine sources. The use of repentance and traditional folk medicine were treatments for mental illness. Afflicted individuals were blamed for their own sickness This was the age of witches in both the New World as well as the Old One.
"The Vertues of every Plant call for thy praises to the Glorious God who has made the Plant and taught us the Vertues of it. And if thou are a Plant of Righteousness thou wilt study to be one, upon the Accounts, of greater Vertues than any that are to found, from the Cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the Hyssop that springs out of the wall..." Cotton Mather
Hyssop officinalis - the hyssop herb
Salvia officinalis - official or culinary sage
Invitation to a Heavenly Feast - Meditation #62 - Edward Taylor (1642-1729) - American Puritan poet and minister of the Westfield, MA Congregational Church
"I'll surely come, Lord fit me for this feast:
Give me my Sage and my Savory; me dub
with Goldenrod, and with Saint Johns wort good.
Root up my Henbain, Fainbain, Divells bit,
My Dragons, Chokewort, Grasswort, Ragwort, vice
And set my knot with Honeysuckle, stick
Rich Herb-a-Grace and Grains of Paradise,
Angelica, yea Sharons Rose the best
And Herba Trinitatis in my breast."
What's in a Name?
"herba trinitatis" is the herbalists' name for Viola tricolor (heartsease,wild pansy)
Witches Chant - Shakespeare's McBeth
Some witches like those described in Shakespeare's McBeth preferred to use reptiles, amphibians, and parts of small mammals rather than plants in their potions.
"Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of finny snake.
In the cauldron boil and bake.
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog.
Adder's fork and blind worm's sting,
Lizards leg and owlets wing.
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a devil's broth now bubble.
Double, double, toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
Cool it with baboons' blood,
When the charm is firm and good."
A Cauldron is...
sometimes called a caldron and is a large metal pot (kettle) for cooking and/or boiling over an open fire, with a large mouth and frequently with an arc-shaped hanger.
The garden is the poor man's apothecary ~ German Proverb
The Mud Maid in The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Witches and Your Thoughts
What did you think about this hub page? Did it make you think differently about witches? Would you like to know more about witches?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Georgene Moizuk Bramlage
Witches and their Gardens
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on September 26, 2020:
Thank you for your generous and enthusiastic reply. I like homemade and monastery-brewed beer that I enjoyed in Belgium. A few of the cloistered monasteries here in the U.S. have recently begun producing beer. I have not tried any of these but plan to buy and enjoy some over the coming Christmas holidays. GMB
Besarien from South Florida on July 29, 2019:
Another great article! When I hear witches I think of wise country folk, mainly the old women, who had learned a lot about herbs, brewing, and midwifery. The establishment found them to be hard to control, politically threatening, and otherwise just inconvenient. They made easy scapegoats though.
If you look at the history of beer, which is an interest of mine, brewing was always considered women's work and for many it provided a good source of home-based income allowing for a degree of independence, power, and prestige for even an old widow woman among her country neighbors at least.
Then, in the medieval period, the Church got into the business of beer (and wine) production using monks in the monasteries along major pilgrim roads. At the same time, witch-hunting out in the countryside really caught on, especially in Germany where home-brewing was especially popular.
Suddenly, if someone saw an old woman brewing her own beer, she started looking a lot like an ugly old witch brewing up an evil potion. Eventually, most of the knowledge of how to brew, or to do anything else remotely clever, got centralized into the monasteries as well. They were very aptly named the dark ages.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 06, 2014:
Elsie, Thanks for checking it out!
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on October 03, 2014:
Very interesting witches garden. Especially with halloween approaching.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on July 05, 2014:
@ecogranny: Thank you for your visit and also for liking what is one of my favorite topics - plant lore.
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on July 05, 2014:
I enjoyed it, especially the plant lore.
David Stone from New York City on March 29, 2014:
I never gave witches that much thought, but this lens fleshes them out in a nice, spooky way.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on March 13, 2014:
@smine27: Hi again! Thanks for stopping by my witch lens...there is more to witches than meets first impression. Thanks for reading and for you're always welcome comments.
Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on March 12, 2014:
Great lens with interesting tidbits of information littered throughout. I enjoyed reading this.:)
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on November 02, 2013:
@TheFabMarketer: Thanks for stopping and for leaving your gracious comments I hope the books will be a real help to you.
TheFabMarketer on October 31, 2013:
Thanks for the list of books. I've wanted to work on my garden and make it look pretty. Although the weather is getting cooler, I'll be prepared for next year with an arsenal of good ideas.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 31, 2013:
@anonymous: Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your gracious comment!
anonymous on October 30, 2013:
Very interesting nice lens
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on June 03, 2013:
@jpmny999: Thank you so much for your kind words!
jpmny999 on June 02, 2013:
I loved reading this lens.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on September 29, 2012:
@kristalulabelle: Thanks so much for visiting and your comments! I'll have to get busy and do more lenses about herbs.
Kristen from Wisconsin on September 29, 2012:
I loved reading all about witches and herbs! Great job, I enjoyed the read!
WriterJanis2 on September 05, 2012:
What a wonderful and unique witch's lens. Blessed!
WriterJanis2 on September 05, 2012:
What a wonderful and unique witch's lens. Blessed!
BarbaraCasey on September 01, 2012:
Enjoyed strolling through your witch's garden. I didn't know the "rule" about white fruit. Quite a few cool tidbits presented in an interesting way.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on August 22, 2012:
@newbizmau: Again, thanks for stopping by, participating and for your Squid blessing...all very much appreciated.
Maurice Glaude from Mobile, AL on August 22, 2012:
So glad I stopped by your lens. Truly a pleasure to read.
-Blessed by a SquidAngel
OrganicMom247 on June 27, 2012:
Love the poems.
JoshK47 on May 07, 2012:
Very interesting read, indeed - thanks for sharing!
perrybenard on February 04, 2012:
very interesting info your lenses are always a " treat "
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 31, 2011:
Thank you for stopping by :+) Yes, it is interesting and amazing how the mind of a witch works. Cercis
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on October 31, 2011:
Interesting this witch's garden.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 30, 2011:
@anonymous: My pleasure :+) You can take he teacher out of the classroom, but can't take the classroom away from the teacher. Cercis
anonymous on October 30, 2011:
I had forgotten that poison ivy isn't just in the leaf but in the plant and root. Enjoyed the education.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 29, 2011:
@Art-Aspirations: HI! Thanks for visiting and "liking" this topic. Cercis
Art-Aspirations on October 29, 2011:
What a clever twist on the Halloween theme!
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on October 20, 2011:
@Virginia Allain: Yes, this would make a great theme garden or gardens. And a lot of fun to plan them, and maybe plant them. Maybe next autumn! Thanks for stopping by.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on October 19, 2011:
I like gardens with a theme. This would be a unique one to plant and develop.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage (author) from southwestern Virginia on September 26, 2011:
@KimGiancaterino: Thanks for stopping by :+) This is my most favorite season of the year.
KimGiancaterino on September 26, 2011:
Wonderful lens ... I am looking forward to the fall.
wolfie10 on September 17, 2011:
i did enjoy your lens. interesting way of presenting it. good luck with it