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Mandrake: The Alchemy of this Homunculus Plant

Find out about the homunculus mandrake plant and learn of its alchemy, you'll be surprised at all the legends surrounding this particular root!

There are many plants and flowers linked to witchcraft, magic and alchemy. One of the most well-known ones is the mandrake plant. Mandrake is a perennial herb which grows around the Mediterranean and belongs to the Solanaceae family.

Mandrake is a plant surrounded by many legends, as various civilizations believed it to have magical and extraordinary powers, whether as a talisman, as an ingredient in potions or even for malicious purposes in black magic.

The Persians and the Egyptians used the mandrake root for medicinal purposes and sometimes even for ceremonial purposes, as many pieces of this strange root have been found in chambers within tombs. It's also mentioned in ancient texts, such as the Ebers Papyrus, dated between 17000 and 16000 years before our era. It's also mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible in which Rachel, Jacob's wife, barters for Mandrake in a specific moment (Ge 30:14, 15.).

The reason behind her bartering is never explicitly mentioned in the sacred texts, but it's possible that she wanted the herbs to combat her sterility, as out of Jacob's twelve sons, only the last two were conceived by his wife Rachel, the others were conceived by Leah or one of their maidservants.

Furthermore, in a biblical chant, it's said that mandrake has a sweet and fresh smell similar to an apple's.

    Why is mandrake considered to be magical?

    One of the reasons that humans have believed mandrake to be a plant with magical powers linked to alchemy for eons is because of the shape of its roots, which vaguely resemble a human or a homunculus (the name given to artificially created, small, humanoid beings in witchcraft and alchemy).

    Over the course of many years, the legends surrounding the mandrake root have grown stronger, and in the most mysterious depths of folklore and esoterism, it is still seen as one of the most powerful and dangerous plants out of all the magical herbs.

    Extracting a mandrake root, the homunculus one, is considered to be a very difficult task, and requires a ritual consisting of making a magical circle around the plant, above which we must dance and utter some dirty words. Only through this ritual will the magician be able to dominate the mandrake plant.

    The mandrake root's magic

    During the Middle Ages, it was said that the plant-collecting alchemist had to clean the root,  tie it to a dog and attract the animal so it would pull out the mandrake root, as there is a risk of death if one decides to pull out the root oneself.

    I'm sure many people have heard of the mandrake plant through its appearance in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter saga, in which there are also references to the ghost of the alchemist Nicolas Flamel, who was a real alchemist and scribe. This saga contains a perfect example of one of the many myths surrounding the this plant, in the second film when they are extracting the mandrake root in herbology class, it emits an unbearable scream when it is pulled out, similar to that of a wailing beast.

    Mandrakes in Herbology

    Out of all the different mandrake plants, the most desired ones were those which grew underneath gallows. According to alchemists, these plants had been fertilized with sperm from the hanging men (the sperm would be expelled in the human's last convulsions before death), and due to this, these plants had a highly coveted extra vitality.

    The homunculus root has been associated many times with a genius, or an ancient and wise person of small stature, and because of this people have given it divine powers. Some people even used to bleed on the homunculus plant to feed it so that it would be stronger.

    Mandrake root as a powerful talisman

    As we explained previously, the mandrake root (the one which somewhat resembles humans), was not only used in spells and rituals but also as a talisman meant to bestow spectacular prosperity and an abundance of good fortune upon the wearer, such as boosting fertility (much like Rachel found in the Bible). In order to use the mandrake plant as a talisman, we must first wash the root, macerate it and let it mature.

    The use of mandrake in witchcraft

    Mandrake was commonly used by witches in their ointments, the most well-known of them being that they used to smother themselves in a cream derived from this plant before flying in the air at night; they used to also rub this ointment on their broom before using it to fly in the air.

    This ability to fly was one of the many reasons for which witches would be executed, on top of being accused of casting wicked spells and making deals with the devil. In fact, these dodgy deals with the devil is what gave them the abilities which other mortals lack and would grow to fear.

    Given the church's power and the fear of the devil which governed in medieval times, there were very few doctors and scientists who were brave enough to say that these accusations were false, and to confirm that the witches' ability to fly was just an illusion similar to that of hallucinogenic drugs, such as mandrake.

    Other magical properties of the mandrake plant

    Out of all the magical powers associated with the mandrake plant, the most notable ones are: turning you invisible, making money multiply, attracting good luck in critical moments and protecting from robberies, fires and epidemics.

    In order to obtain these powers, an easy way of working with mandrake is by creating perfumes or colognes with it, that way, the fragrance will surround is, creating an aura around us bestowing these virtues upon us. We could also rub an ointment on candles so that when they burn, the aura is released.

    Important warning!

    Attention: this article is based around the esoteric side of mandrake according to traditional myths and legends, and all the information related to the use of the this root in magic or medicine is merely informative. Mandrake is a toxic plant and Magic Horoscope does NOT recommend using it in any way.