Monday, November 21, 2016

All I want for Yule is...herbs that might kill me

So in my due course of getting to know the local pagan/heathen/witchy lay o' the land in my new homeland of Denver, I have been sleuthing out all the pointy-hatted retail goodness.

One such recent excursion yielded a surprise I was not expecting...finding a tiny little apothecary shop, tucked back in a mostly deserted multi-tenant building.

The usual containers with tumbled stones and crystal points
A bunch of books on chakra balancing, contacting spirit guides and herbal gardening
Random statuettes of various dashboard-mountable deities
and then...the ubiquitous wall of glass jars with herbs.

But this was different.

These had the Latin names and warning labels...not just descriptions of whatever Scott Cunningham or Paul Huson cited as potential holistic and magical uses.

And there, among the dusty glass containers of Dittany of Crete and Comfrey and homegrown white sage.  There.  In the jar at the tippy-top shelf:  amanita muscaria - the red cap!

This little bugger is NOT something to mess around with, and frankly, I was really shocked that it was available at all.   However, not much should surprise me here, in the land where every shopping plaza has a med/rec herb retailer and driving with the windows down on a Friday after work smells like a skunk farm. 

Fully dried caps that still retained something of their former telltale reddish hue with white spots.  The jar had three of them inside, the largest of which rivaled some portabella sandwiches I've eaten at swanky restaurants.  These babies are to be sold by weight, by the gram. 

For giggles, I asked for the price of the big fella...a whopping $80.00 for that guy.  I liked his smaller, better shaped and mostly intact brother for a $35.00. 

I've decided to make myself a little shadow box of fine specimens that are traditionally included in a flying ointment.  Kind of like one of those specimen boxes one would mount fascinating insect in for further study.  Goddess knows I'm neither suicidal nor foolhardy enough to try to concoct such a thing.

But imagine what a preserved collection of herbs like that would be, a unique conversation piece that fellow witches invited into my private office/library would find darkly humorous.

Now then, where to find some Datura and a full Mandrake root?  Maybe that hoodoo store I passed the other day on my way home from work can procure something for me?