Belladonna is well known as a highly poisonous species capable of inducing various kinds of hallucinations.
It entered into the folklore and mythology of virtually all European peoples, who feared its deadly power. It was one of the ingredients of the truly hallucinogenic brews and ointments concocted by the so-called witches of medieval Europe. The attractive shiny berries of the plant still often cause it to be accidentally eaten, with resultant poisoning.
The name belladonna (“beautiful lady” in Italian) comes from a curious custom practiced by Italian women of high society during medieval times. They would drop the sap of the plant into the eye to dilate the pupil enormously, inducing a kind of drunken or glassy stare, considered in that period to enhance feminine beauty and sensuality.
“The magical rod is the verendum of the magus; it must not even be mentioned in any clear and precise manner; no one should boast of its possession, nor should its consecration ever be transmitted except under the conditions of absolute discretion and confidence.” - Eliphas Levi, “Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie” (1856)
It is a matter of fact that properly making a wand is a pain in the ass. It is a rather long process, with lots of detailed steps, none of which can be skipped. It takes more than a month of near daily work, invariably leads to both accidental and purposeful blood spill, not to mention all the mess.
Having lived in London for over a decade I can assure you that there is no Ollivanders in which to purchase a finished wand. And while many many sticks that have been nicely polished, often having had some baubles attached to them, are for sale from a variety of vendors they are not in any practical way a wand.
A wand must be cut by the practitioner themselves directly from the tree, must be worked to shape by the practitioner’s hands, tooled by the practitioner’s blade. It is a very necessary tool in the arsenal of witch and wizard alike, found throughout history in the practice of magic.
On the whole its a bothersome process; messy, meticulous, exacting and often tiresome. But at each point where you would shirk the necessary steps it is only in reminding yourself that the tool you make may save your life that you push on, doing every little bit that is needed to make it as strong as possible. Because like a parachute your life may hang in the balance of your wand having been made in an exacting process that I would personally never trust to something I bought online or in a shop.
The length of the wand varies from culture to culture and use to use. I myself prefer a length that is the distance from one’s nose when looking straight ahead to the tip of one’s fingers. Approximately three feet long (four spans) though tailored exactly to the body of its owner. The perfect length for tracing a circle on the ground without bending over.
It so happens that I had long held off on making myself a second hazel wand, my first being in storage in the US and something I had used for decades - though not seen in years. In its stead I have been using a very nice rowan wand I constructed about a year after I arrived in London, which works for most situations and is particularly adept at landscape magics. But then there are some things for which only a hazel wand will do the job properly.
Unfortunately my original hazel, cut from a deep and old wood in the states when I was a young man, has gone missing. Its whereabouts are a mystery, though where it should have been among my library storage materials it was not. Thus I have been slowly getting around to replacing it, and some near future work that needs doing has required my starting in order to finish before the vernal equinox.
So while the blackbird sang me a song of predawn delight I cut the hazel and have begun the process. As it dries I will gather the bits I need, offerings and ointments for its preparation, and by the first day of spring it should be ready for a bit of that old black magic.
A Patreon commission for @alandria7, who wanted me to give Belladonna some love. Which was perfect because I’ve wanted to draw her in her work element. If you have forgotten, her adoptive jelly parents own a flower shop. Bella usually helps around with heavy carrying but looks like this time she’s giving a try to flower arranging.
Thank you very much for the support and commissioning me!
commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, a perennial herbaceous plant (rhizomatous hemicryptophyte) in the tomato family Solanaceae, native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. the foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids.