A handy list of poisons for writing reference, provided to you by me, Bella
Poisoning is one of the oldest murder tactics in the books. It was the old equalizer, and while it’s often associated with women, historically men are no less likely to poison you. This is not a guide on how to poison people, you banana bunches, it’s a guide on writing about poisons in fiction so you don’t end up on a watch list while researching them. I’ve taken that hit for you. You’re welcome. These are just a few of the more classic ones.
Hemlock: Hemlock (conium maculatum) is one of the more famous ones, used in ancient times most notably in Socrates’ forced suicide execution. So it goes. The plant has bunches of small, white flowers, and can grow up to ten feet tall. It’s a rather panicky way to die, although it wouldn’t show: hemlock is a paralytic, so the cause of death is most often asphyxiation due to respiratory paralysis, although the mind remains unaffected and aware.
Belladonna: Atropa belladonna is also called deadly nightshade. It has pretty, trumpet-shaped purple flowers and dark, shiny berries that actually look really delicious which is ironic since it’s the most toxic part of the plant. The entire plant is poisonous, mind you, but the berries are the most. One of the most potent poisons in its hemisphere,it was used as a beauty treatment, so the story says, and rubbed into the eyes to make the eyes dilate and the cheeks flush. Hench the name beautiful lady. The death is more lethargic than hemlock, although its symptoms are worse: dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, tachycardia, loss of balance, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, severely dry mouth and throat, slurred speech, urinary retention, constipation, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, and convulsions. It’s toxic to animals, but cattle and rabbits can eat it just fine, for some reason.
Arsenic: Arsenic comes from a metalloid and not a plant, unlike the others here, but it’s easily the most famous and is still used today. Instead of being distilled from a plant, chunks of arsenic are dug up or mined. It was once used as a treatment for STDs, and also for pest control and blacksmithing, which was how many poisoners got access to it. It was popular in the middle ages because it looked like a cholera death, due to acute symptoms including stomach cramps, diarrhea, confusion, convulsions, vomiting, and death. Slow poisoning looked more like a heart attack. The Italians famously claimed that a little arsenic improved the taste of wine.
Strychnine: Strychnine (strick-nine) is made from the seed of strychnos nux vomica and causes poisoning which results in muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia. Convulsions appear after inhalation or injection—very quickly, within minutes—and take somewhat longer to manifest after ingestion, around approximately 15 minutes. With a very high dose, brain death can occur in 15 to 30 minutes. If a lower dose is ingested, other symptoms begin to develop, including seizures, cramping, stiffness, hypervigilance, and agitation. Seizures caused by strychnine poisoning can start as early as 15 minutes after exposure and last 12 – 24 hours. They are often triggered by sights, sounds, or touch and can cause other adverse symptoms, including overheating, kidney failure, metabolic and respiratory acidosis. During seizures, abnormal dilation, protrusion of the eyes, and involuntary eye movements may occur. It is also slightly hallucinogenic and is sometimes used to cut narcotics. It also notably has no antidote. In low doses, some use it as a performance enhancer.
Curare:Chondrodendron tomentosum is lesser known than its famous cousins, but kills in a very similar way to hemlock. It is slow and terrible, as the victim is aware and the heart may beat for many minutes after the rest of the body is paralyzed. If artificial respiration is given until the poison subsides, the victim will survive.
Wolfsbane: Aconitum has several names; Monkshood, aconite, Queen of Poisons, women’s bane, devil’s helmet) and is a pretty, purple plant with gourd-shaped flowers. The root is the most potent for distillation. Marked symptoms may appear almost immediately, usually not later than one hour, and with large doses death is near instantaneous. Death usually occurs within two to six hours in fatal poisoning. The initial signs are gastrointestinal including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is followed by a sensation of burning, tingling, and numbness in the mouth and face, and of burning in the abdomen. In severe poisonings pronounced motor weakness occurs and sensations of tingling and numbness spread to the limbs. The plant should be handled with gloves, as the poison can seep into the skin.
Foxglove: Digitalis is large with trumpet-shaped flowers that can be many colors, but usually a pinkish shade. It may have from the term foxes-glew, which translated to fairy music. Intoxication causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as sometimes resulting in xanthopsia (jaundiced or yellow vision) and the appearance of blurred outlines (halos), drooling, abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, weakness, collapse, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, and even death. Slowed heartbeat also occurs. Because a frequent side effect of digitalis is reduction of appetite and the mortality rate is low, some individuals have used the drug as a weight-loss aid. It looks a bit like comfrey, which is an aid for inflammation. Make sure not to confuse the two.
I love femme fatale Poison Ivy, but I have to say, part of me wants to see a version of her that looks less and less human the closer you get.
Like, from a distance vibrant, full hair and pout. Fluttery eyelashes over Bette Davis eyes.
Up close, her hair seems to move on its own. Its strands are thicker than typical hair and its color off. Her lips are too bright but you can tell it’s not lipstick. Her eyelashes remind you a Venus Fly Trap’s toothy maw. Her pupils are horizontal slits, like a goat’s.
Lately I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how
selfless Asami Sato is…
She’s almost saint-like despite the sheer hell she has had to face and endure throughout her entire life. A quick glance may give someone
the impression that she’s infallible, untouchable. But we know this to not be the
case, because deeply rooted inside of this woman is a history full of pain and trauma.
* * * * *
At the age of six, she had her mother’s life ripped away
from her from an Agni Kai Triad raid.
12 years later she had to face the truth about her father. The only person she had left in her family turned against her due to his
corrupt view of benders and this disgust led him to almost murdering his own
During the equalist revolution, her relationship with Mako
tumbled and fell apart into shambles.
Six months later, Asami assumed the role of her father as
the CEO of Future Industries, only to face bankruptcy, double-crossing and theft with her
With little to no hope left, she turned to Mako again,
presumably out of fear and the need for some source of comfort, any source of comfort. That interaction
between them ended up being very short-lived once more.
Things started looking up for her again after the events of
Book 2. Her company stabilized, her friendship with Korra bloomed and the Krew was together and stronger than ever.
When all looked well, things quickly turned as the Red Lotus captured the Avatar. Asami had to witness the gruesome
encounter between Korra and Zaheer after the Avatar bore the near-fatal effects of the poisonous
metal. All she could do in that very moment was watch her best friend being thrown against mountains, being intentionally suffocated before she was wrapped in Tonraq’s arms, motionless.
For two whole weeks after the events of the Red Lotus, she did everything she could and took close care of the Korra in her wounded and shattered state. She was willing to do anything, even going so far as to offer her company with Korra in the Southern Water Tribe. However, that offer was declined and she was left all alone.
As time passed, the Krew began to drift apart once again. Mako was busy with his police work and Bolin eventually set off to help restore the Earth Kingdom. Asami was buried in work with rebuilding Republic City’s infrastructure around the spirit vines. As for Korra… well that was absolute radio-silence. Asami sent letter after letter to Korra, calling out to her but receiving nothing in return. During this time period, she began to fully realize her romantic feelings for her best friend, but was too afraid admit them out of fear that
Korra would never come back to home - never come back to her.
Two years of radio-silence morphed into a brief period of hope when she finally received a letter from Korra. Korra had contacted only her, revealing how she was trying to get better along with her deepest insecurities about visions, the Avatar State and fears of never fully bouncing back. Despite the dark confessions, the letter must have given Asami some sliver hope as Korra was trying her best to get better and push her way through the darkness. Maybe there wasn’t anything Asami could do, but she knew Korra still had some fight left in her.
Later, Asami was informed that the Avatar would be arriving back in Republic City - back to where the action and her friends would be. The feelings that Asami would have been experiencing - the disbelief, the happiness, the nervousness - she would finally get to see her best friend face-to-face again after more than two long years.
Except, not all went according to plan. Her and her friends were informed that Korra left the Water Tribe around six months back with the intent of voyaging to Republic City. Korra was gone, absent from the world and no one, not even Asami, had clue as to where she would be.
During this long time-period, her father began attempting to contact her again via letters. Asami felt angry and conflicted - this man was her father after all, but the actions he committed against her were beyond hurtful. Maybe she couldn’t forgive immediately, if ever, but she could try. He was one of her last hopes as her best friends were off doing their own things and Korra was missing.
Her reunion with her best friend was delayed, but eventually happened. Korra looked happier and healthier- something that Asami hadn’t seen for three full years. Not only did she reunite with her closest friend, she was also able see Mako and Bolin again. Her family was back together and they were ready to take on Kuvira and her army.
During the preparations for the final battle, her and Hiroshi were able to make some amends through their creation of the hummingbird mecha suits. They were able to bond once again over this activity of creating and designing - something they probably did numerous times before the Hiroshi’s hatred took him away from her. They were able to tell each other that they loved each other for the first time in a long while…
And it would be for the last time as she watched her father crushed before her own eyes as she slowly drifted back to the torn grounds of Republic City in her parachute.
* * * * *
Asami had every reason to hate the world after what it had put her through. Trauma after trauma, she was pushed into a deep hole of sadness and pain. She could have easily fell on a path similar to that of her father, seeking revenge out of blinding anger and rage.
To think, at only the young age of 22, she was subjected to more trauma and horror than any person should ever have to face. This… it can hit a little close to home, especially for someone like me who is around own Asami’s age.
What is also nearly unfathomable is that we seldom hear Asami complain about these experiences in her life. She keeps getting punched down but always gets right back up without a word. She may appear fine out the outside, but that internal emotional pain on the inside must be unbearable.
Despite this pain, she always puts people before herself, tending to others before tending to herself. She provides her resources (airships, satomobiles, her own mansion for friends and their family members) as well as her own skills and pure kindness. She is willing to go to some extremes to help make someone feel people feel (as we were able to see with her offer to go to the Water Tribe with Korra) or to help restore balance to the world with Korra and the others.
Asami could ask for anything in the world, she could buy herself whatever she needs or wants and I’m sure she would have people lining up outside the door to get the chance to be with her. She could gloat about her extreme intelligence, her role with the Krew or her position as an engineer and CEO of Future Industries. But she never does any of this - she never asks for recognition, favors or… anything.
She gives and she gives but never expects anything in return. Life has taken so much away from her and instead of using this pain as a reason for revenge and hate, she uses it as a means to help others - so that they don’t have experience what she already has.
And if there is one thing we know about Asami Sato, it’s that while important people keep leaving her, she will never leave them.
Agate - You cannot go wrong with the Agate family. The powerful yet gentle energy of Agate can open the channels of communication between you and your pet, will balance your pet’s energy, assist with sleep, calm anxiety, and help your pet focus during training.
Amber – a great stone for pets due to its versatility, Amber is a wonderful and supportive healing stone. While not technically a crystal (Amber is fossilized tree resin) this is what promotes its connection to past life issues or any kind of physical healing. Amber is also known to have both a calming and energizing effect, dependant on what is needed at the moment. This attribute makes Amber perfect for both the smaller, hyper animals with high metabolism, as well as larger and calmer ones.
Amethyst - use for everything from pain to disorientation. Amethyst’s energy perks up couch potato pets, clears negative energy while balancing your pet’s energy fields, calms rattled nerves, and is an all-around healer.
Black Obsidian- great for reptile owners as Obsidian absorbs negative energy and heat. Reptiles will love its heat-retaining qualities, and the shiny black stone will look good in their habitat too. Just be sure the stones have smooth edges.
Black Onyx - a great stone for outdoor pets, because it is known to draw out negative energies and entities, which can be helpful for things like fleas and parasites. As such, it is good for the bowels. A very protective stone, Black Onyx is supportive of physical strength and stamina, and can be helpful during times of stress, such as physical illness, trauma, or even during fights with other animals.
Bloodstone- supports overall health, strength, and endurance. Wearing or carrying Bloodstone is helpful for balancing the chakras and for grounding negative or excessive energies. Bloodstone is also commonly used to increase intuition, which would be indispensable to any animal.
Blue Calcite - use when your pet is recuperating from surgery or trying to settle into a new home. Its relaxing energy soothes nerves, relieves anxieties, and helps with sleep. This is a great crystal to use with nervous, high-strung animals.
Blue Lace Agate - promotes sleep, calms an anxious pet, and boosts self-esteem.
Calcite - benefits the skeletal system.
Carnelian- promotes emotional warmth, individuality, courage, happiness, and harmony. It alsohelps release emotions such as anger, fear, and envy. Attach a Carnelian charm to your shy or nervous dog or cat’s collar. Carnelian is also beneficial for skin problems.
Clear Quartz- a master healer that is effective for all conditions, strengthening the aura and protecting against negative energies. Clear Quartz will help strengthen your pet’s immune system, which will improve his or her overall health. It can also stimulate energy levels. Dog and cat owners use it during training as quartz heightens communication between the pet and its owner. Bird owners could use it as well when taming and training new birds. Clear Quartz is great for amplifying intention, so you could program it with a specific purpose for your pet, before use. If you decide to use Clear Quartz for your pets, you should clear it in the evenings, as it will absorb any negative vibes with which your pet has come into close contact.
Coral- kidneys and bladder
Fluorite- bones (blue), respiration (blue, green or clear), blood purification or lymph glands (green), digestion (green or yellow).
Garnet - reproductive system
Green Moss Agate - a wonderful source of Earth energy. Relaxing and grounding.
Hematite - muscular system
Jasper - the supreme nurturing stone. Its grounding ability supports tranquility and inner strength during times of stress or danger. Dalmatian Jasper is especially popular for use with animals as it grounds and helps alleviate fears.
Kyanite- alignment of all Chakras, tendons or bones
Malachite - heart problems, liver detoxification (WARNING: Do not permit your pet or animal to eat this stone or put it in their drinking water. Malachite has very high levels of copper and can lead to serious or fatal blood poisoning if even very small amounts are swallowed. FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY.)
Rose Quartz- injuries, wounds, reduces stress. Rose Quartz is the stone to use if your dog or cat is aloof and standoffish. Rose Quartz energy will help your pet learn to accept love and companionship without fear. It is ideal to use with rescued animals, injured or sick animals, or when introducing a new pet into your household. Acceptance of the new member of the family (be it another dog or a new baby) will run a smoother course.
Smokey Quartz - nervous system, swellings. If you have more than one pet in the house, and the animals socialize, then you may have squabbles from time to time. Smoky Quartz works to reduce future hostilities by grounding and clearing negative energies in your household, which would also benefit any human squabblers.
Sodalite - calming, nervousness, good for settling down during travel
Sugilite - death and dying
Turquoise- a master healer that can be used for everything, protective
I’ve reuploaded and seriously revamped and updated my lady villain playlist. These are basically the collection of songs I like where women sing about feeling violent, sinister, manipulative or a little/lot evil. Some of the songs could also apply to anti-heroes rather than simply villains (a lot of them are firmly villainous though). It’ll likely be updated in the future, so I won’t bother with a tracklist here- you can click on the link and see the current list of songs. There are about 30 right now. Enjoy and get your bad on.
Silk Teddies & Serrated Knives: Revisiting The 1990s Heyday Of The Erotic Thriller
by Noel Murray
Recently, while flipping through my cable guide, I came across Fatal Instinct, an Armand Assante/Sean Young/Sherilyn Fenn vehicle from 1993—perhaps the last year in which the phrase “an Armand Assante/Sean Young/Sherilyn Fenn vehicle” wouldn’t sound patently absurd. Unable to recall which of the many 1990s erotic thrillers Fatal Instinct actually was, I tuned in, and quickly realized that it’s a Carl Reiner-directed parody of those movies. There’s even a scene where Young’s character flashes her crotch at the hero—just like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct—and he reaches into a drawer in his desk to toss her one of the many pairs of panties that he keeps in a pop-up Kleenex box.
Fatal Instinct came out just a year after Basic Instinct, which shows how quickly and pervasively that film swept through popular culture. But as I watched, I found it hard to tell precisely what Fatal Instinct was spoofing. Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, sure. But the movie also contains references to Chinatown, Double Indemnity, and countless Alfred Hitchcock pictures.
This raised a couple of questions: What were those ‘90s thrillers trying to be in the first place? And why were there so many of them between 1990 and 1995?
Success spawns imitators, and Basic Instinct was a big enough blockbuster to inspire a hundred copycats. But that film was at the crest of the wave, not the start of the swell. There was something going on in the culture at large—and in cinema in particular—that produced a moment where Armand Assante could hand Sean Young fresh underpants and everyone watching would be expected to get the reference.
There were a lot of pathways to that point in pop history. Let’s start in 1985.
Close, Douglas & Eszterhas
Joe Eszterhas shifted from journalism to screenwriting at the end of the 1970s, and spent several years as one of Hollywood’s most-in-demand but least-produced writers. He penned scripts that sold for a lot of money but went unmade; and he padded his income doing uncredited polishes of other people’s work. Then veteran producer Martin Ransohoff came to him with an idea for a classy courtroom drama, akin to Anatomy Of A Murder. Eszterhas took the assignment, and whipped up something far more lurid—and more profitable.
In 1985’s Jagged Edge, Jeff Bridges plays Jack Forrester, a crusading journalist (like Eszterhas!) accused of murdering his wife. He turns to semi-retired criminal lawyer Teddy Barnes (Glenn Close) to defend him. Most of Jagged Edge takes place during the trial, as Teddy goes after the shady prosecutorial tactics of her former boss Thomas Krasny (Peter Coyote), and tries to ignore all the signs that Jack—whom she’s fallen for—is a reckless liar.
Jagged Edge scored good reviews and became a word-of-mouth hit, reaching #1 at the box office in its fourth weekend in theaters. It’s a polished product, with powerhouse performances and an unpredictably twisty plot.
It’s also frequently quite nasty. The initial crime involves a multitude of stab-wounds and the word “BITCH” smeared in blood above the victim. Later we hear about a similar crime perpetrated against a woman who was allowed to live—after the intruder ran a serrated blade roughly against her breasts and nipples.
Jagged Edge’s success meant that Eszterhas had the clout to get a wide variety of his projects made, from tony Costa-Gavras-directed political thrillers like Betrayed and Music Box to wacky comedies like Big Shots and Checking Out. But he didn’t become a household name among movie buffs until he returned to the realm of pervy violence with Basic Instinct, a script he reportedly wrote in two weeks and sold for three million dollars.
The finished film was directed by Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven, whose terrific 1983 suspense picture The Fourth Man had mined similar territory, weaving sexual compulsion with the imminent threat of mutilation. Verhoeven took a script pulled directly from Eszterhas’ arrested adolescent id, and treated it like vintage Hitchcock. Even now, Basic Instinct looks stunning, despite a ridiculous plot where every man’s a roughhousing sex fiend, every woman’s a promiscuously polyamorous femme fatale, and every cooly deadpan line of dialogue maximizes the vulgarity with intent to shock.
Though best known for its “leg uncrossing” interrogation scene (famously parodied in Fatal Instinct!) and for depicting bisexuals and lesbians as both exciting and deadly to be around, Basic Instinct is actually amped-up from start to finish. The sex scenes are remarkably frank, with clear intimations of cunnilingus and screaming orgasms. And inasmuch as the movie has a point, it seems to be that certain kinds of movie characters—like the alcoholic, trigger-happy cop played by Michael Douglas or the sexually rapacious, scandal-ridden crime novelist played by Sharon Stone—exist wholly outside of our conventional middle-class morality. They can shoot who they want, stab who they want, screw who they want.
That perspective is markedly divergent from Fatal Attraction, the 1987 potboiler that paired Douglas and Close, and the film arguably most responsible for launching the ‘90s erotic thriller trend—even if it took a few years before the genre really boomed. Written by James Dearden and directed by Adrian Lyne (the latter of whom also made the sexy 1986 drama 9½ Weeks, and the Eszterhas-penned Flashdance), Fatal Attraction sees Douglas playing well-to-do New York lawyer Dan Gallagher, who has what he believes to be a one-time-only extramarital fling with high-powered publishing house editor Alexandra Forrest, played by Close. Before their weekend together is up, Dan fears that Alex is getting awfully clingy—a suspicion confirmed when she slashes his wrists as he’s trying to leave.
Fatal Attraction takes some silly turns in its third act, with Alex behaving like some kind of supernatural demon—boiling Dan’s daughter’s pet bunny, rising from the dead after being drowned, and so on. It’s a disappointing finish, because for the first hour or so, this is one of the most squirm-inducing of erotic thrillers… because it’s so disturbingly real.
From the opening scenes of Dan muddling through another night in his cluttered apartment—with his demanding young daughter watching inane kiddie TV shows, while his attractive wife is wearing skimpy clothes strictly for housecleaning purposes—Fatal Attraction makes its hero’s choice to spend a weekend having sex with a casual acquaintance perfectly plausible. Alex represents the New York life Dan used to lead (or perhaps has always fantasized about), with salsa dancing and spontaneous blow jobs in the old-fashioned elevator up to her stylish loft apartment.
But while the movie has been criticized for making Alex seem like an unreasonable kook, for most of the movie she comes across as pretty three-dimensional. It’s Dan who makes presumptions about how a man like him is allowed to behave, with no repercussions. When Alex starts calling him at home, Dan’s outraged, saying, “I thought you knew the rules.” When she replies, “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan,” it’s hard not to be on her side. Right up until it lets the audience off the hook by making Alex into a super-villain, Fatal Attraction needles at something deep and painful, reflecting the genuine cultural concerns of a time when ‘70s hedonism and go-go yuppiedom were giving way to politically powerful televangelists and AIDS scares.
Sex, Violence & The Moral Majority
Eszterhas didn’t exactly invent the winning combination of nudity and bloodletting. Eroticism undergirded classic film noir, and shaded most of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. In the 1970s, Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me served as a proto-Fatal Attraction with its story of a one-night stand turning into a dangerous hassle. Over in Italy, the giallo genre produced gorgeous-looking exploitation pictures with titles like Strip Nude For Your Killer. The early 1980s brought a brief wave of neo-noir exemplified by the steamy Body Heat, while Brian De Palma churned out sensational R-rated cinema like Dressed To Kill and Body Double.
And then there were the slasher films. Critics have done some fine work unpacking ‘80s horror, considering everything from the male gaze to the moralism to the stealthy feminist coding. Most of those same critiques and caveats can be applied to the ‘90s erotic thriller. It’s worth noting though how and why movies like Basic Instinct supplanted the likes of Friday The 13th and Halloween.
It’s the rare sociopolitical cause that could unite left-leaning critic Roger Ebert and progressive pastor Jerry Falwell, but the slasher film craze of the mid-‘80s did just that, as concerned folks with influential public platforms began complaining about how their local multiplexes were overrun with stories about masked psychopaths impaling frequently unclad youngsters. The United States never experienced anything like the hysteria in the UK over the “video nasties,” but the gory advertising and pervasive hype for movies like Silent Night, Deadly Night did lead to threats of boycotts, which in turn led to Hollywood lessening the amount of bare flash and open wounds in horror in the back half of the 80s.
The public’s thirst for the prurient never went away though, which is partly why movies like Jagged Edge and Fatal Attraction became so popular. They were by turns sexy and disquieting, yet with a veneer of respectability, conveyed by both their stars and by what appeared to be messages reaffirming “family values.”
In the ‘90s, the erotic thriller essentially cleaved into two sub-genres, represented by Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct. The former could best be described as “domestic disturbance” pictures, where someone’s seemingly idyllic family life would be disrupted by the arrival of a seductive babysitter or vengeful nanny. The latter are more sordid tales of sexual obsession, where some horny man or woman gets too turned on by a lover who’s into S&M, voyeurism, or good ol’ fashioned sex-murder.
Murder by poison is a popular theme in crime novels and TV dramas, but fortunately it is rarely used in modern times due to the regulation of poisonous materials and the fact it is relatively easy to detect. However, a few cases of serial poisoning stand out amongst others - enter Graham Young, who murdered his stepmother with poison at fourteen and killed two others after he was released from prison.
Graham Young had a mostly average, loving upbringing in his aunts house in London, as his mother had died from tuberculosis just months after his birth. He exhibited a shrewd intelligence from an early age and showed a particular flair for chemistry - by age seven he was totally obsessed with poisons and their effects, even creating his own home-made version of rat bait using the deadly belladonna plant.
At the age of fourteen, Young began secretly dosing his family members with antimony, a heavy metal that can be broken into small grains and dissolved. Young managed to convince a chemist he needed the antimony for a school experiment, and within weeks of her first dose Young’s stepmother, Molly, became violently ill. After a few days of excruciating stomach pains and vomiting, Molly collapsed in the front garden and died. A friend of the Young family knew of Graham’s obsession with poison, so she called the police.
He was arrested on May 23, 1962, and in addition to the murder of his stepmother, Young confessed to trying to kill his father, sister, and best friend with antimony. The psychiatrist who examined him was adamant Graham did not bear his victims any ill will, he was just so enamoured with poison he would do anything to witness its effects. The fact Graham accidentally poisoned himself a few times before Molly died convinced the judge he was mentally unstable, and he was sent to Broadmoor Hospital. At the age of fourteen, Young was the youngest ever patient.
His years at Broadmoor passed mostly without incident, but the staff began to notice that patients seemed to mysteriously fall ill after accepting a cup of tea from Graham. Once a packet of sugar soap was found in a full kettle of water, and Graham was caught several times trying to extract cyanide from laurel leaves in his cell. He begged his doctors to buy him boxes of matches, but they soon stopped after they discovered he was using the poisonous phosphorus coating on the matchsticks to poison rats.
Graham Young spent nine years in Broadmoor; he managed to convince its head doctor he was totally cured and had found religion, and was recommended to the Parole Office as an “exceptional young man”. He quickly found a job as a clerk in a laboratory in Bovington, near Hertfordshire. His employers were not made aware of the nature of his previous conviction, and Graham lied and told his boss he had been in Broadmoor for extended mental breakdowns.
Just weeks after he was hired, in January 1971, Young’s coworkers at the laboratory began to fall mysteriously sick. Young had seemed eager to ingratiate himself to his new workmates, and began a habit of bringing people cups of tea at regular intervals. Those cups of tea were laced with thallium, another heavy metal poison that can be cut into small chips. Just three chips of thallium can cause unbearable nausea, hair loss, hallucinations, and blindness lasting hours. Young did not target anyone in particular for his ‘experiments’ - just people kind enough to accept a cup of tea. Graham kept a meticulous diary of the doses he administered and the symptoms he observed, referring to his human guinea pigs only by their initials.
In April Young fatally poisoned his foreman, Bob Egle, with a thallium-loaded cup of tea. The foreman had been rushed to hospital when he collapsed in the lunchroom, but Egle died during the night. The doctors diagnosed a virus, and no investigation was launched. Young continued to keep poisoning his co-workers, who all believed they had contracted the mysterious 'Bovington Bug’ that killed Egle. He preferred to dose his victims gradually so their symptoms and recovery (if they ever did recover) could be recorded in his diary. When it was found by police later, the diary had detailed descriptions of the poisoning of at least seventy people, most of whom worked with Young at the lab.
In October 1971 another one of Young’s bosses suddenly died - Fred Biggs, who had previously been a strong and hearty man, died in agony after being sick for three weeks. The bosses of the lab were worried that a chemical leak could have made the men sick, so they hired private investigators to inspect the lab. They found nothing untoward, but as they were leaving Graham Young approached them and said the deaths of Egle and Biggs looked like thallium poisoning. When the investigators asked him to explain, they were shocked to hear Young’s wide knowledge of poisons and their effects. They went to his new boss and told him of Young’s suspicious statements - he rang the police and asked them to do a background check on one Graham Young. The response was shattering - not only was Young a convicted criminal, but he had poisoned his own stepmother at fourteen!
Young was arrested on 21 November 1971. He coldly denied murdering anybody, even when vials of thallium and antimony were found stitched into the lining of his coat. The diary that he recorded the doses was simply a fantasy, he claimed. The fact all the deaths and illnesses had occurred after he was hired was a mere coincidence, he insisted. Young did, however, incriminate himself when he suggested thallium could have killed Bob Egle and Fred Biggs.
Young pled not guilty to murder at his trial, and frequently complained that he should have committed suicide with poison when he saw the police were going to arrest him. The court did not believe his weak protests of innocence and convicted him on two counts of murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
While incarcerated in Parkhurst Prison Young allegedly became friends with Ian Brady, the infamous 'Moors Murderer’, and the two would sometimes play chess. Graham was thrilled when Madame Tussaud’s created a wax figure of him (top picture) for their Chamber of Horrors exhibit. He died in 1990 of a heart attack.
Aconite/monkshood – numbness in face and limbs; inability to walk or move arms; chest pain, heart attack; irregular heart rhythms; nausea; vomiting; abdominal pain; diarrhea
Angel’s trumpet/moonflower – inability to differentiate reality from fantasy; heart attack; bizarre/violent behavior; amnesia; intolerance of light
Asian Abrupt-bulbed Lepidella – kidney failure
Autumn skullcap/Deadly Galerina – symptoms begin 8-24 hrs after ingestion; abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting; symptoms stop for about 24 hrs, during this time toxins attack the liver; death occurs 5-7 days after ingestion from coma, kidney failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding
Azalea – salivation; watering eyes and nose; abdominal pain; loss of energy; nausea; vomiting; weakness; difficulty breathing; paralysis of arms and legs; coma
Castor beans (contain ricin) – severe diarrhea; nausea; heart attack; seizures; hypotension; survivors have extensive organ damage; take 3-5 days to kill
Chestnut dapperling – damage to the heart and liver; headache, dizziness, back pain, gastrointestinal problems
Chokecherry/common chokecherry – poison found everywhere but the berry; digestion by stomach enzymes releases cyanide; giddiness; vertigo; rapid breathing; leads to deep coma, pulmonary edema, and heart attack; victims may have cherry red skin
Daffodil – poisonous bulbs; vomiting; diarrhea; convulsions; can be confused for onions; handling them gives you “daffodil itch”: dryness, scaling, thickening of skin beneath the nails
Daphne (laurel tree family) – poisonous seeds; handling fresh twigs causes rashes/eczema for people with sensitive skin; victims experience choking sensation; common ornamental plant
Deadly conocybe – takes 10 hours to affect body; symptoms include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney and liver damage; usually remission period lasting 1-2 days before death
Deadly nightshade/Belladonna – eating 2-5 berries fatal to adults; eating 1 leaf fatal to adults; roots also fatal; slightly sweet taste; leads to delirium, hallucinations, heart attack, slurred speech, constipation, confusion, sensitivity to light, blurred vision
Deadly parasol – 1 mushroom is deadly; victim feels fine for a day, then sick as intestines are damaged; then the victim appears to recover before dying from liver failure
Deadly webcap – easy to mistake for the prized chanterelle mushroom; symptoms delayed for 2-3 days before flu-like symptoms, headache, and vomiting occur, followed by kidney failure
Death cap (Latin American, East Asian) – looks like the edible honey and paddy straw mushrooms; half a cap can kill a human; toxicity not reduced by cooking, freezing, or drying; taste good; early symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting; symptoms go away from a few days; symptoms return in form of jaundice, diarrhea, delirium, seizures, tachycardia, and kidney failure; survivors usually need liver transplants; fatality rate before the 20th century was 70-80%; now it’s around 10-15% in developed countries; people usually die in 6-10 days
Destroying angel (Eastern North American, Guangzhou, Great Felt Skirt, Western North American, European) – easy to confuse with edible white button mushroom; see death cap for symptoms, as they both contain the same kind of toxin
Doll’s eye/White baneberry – entire plant is poisonous; poison fatally slows human heart; handling plant causes blisters; eating it causes gastrointestinal distress as well as a slowed heartbeat
English yew – highest concentration of poison in the seeds; blue-colored lips, difficulty breathing, coma, convulsions, enlarged pupils, irregular heartbeat, nausea, muscle pain, trembling, vomiting
Ergot/St Anthony’s Fire (archaic) – poisonous fungi that grows on rye; symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, itching, gangrene, vision problems, confusion, spasms, and convulsions
Sacred Plants and Trees of the Druid- The Birch Tree
The Birch Tree has a multitude of uses, from tinder, paper, tanning leather, nets, ropes, baskets, and so much more. The Birch also has a lot of medicinal benefits with the use of various parts of the Tree.
Birch Leaf Oil: Pick leaves in late Spring or early Summer while they are still fresh and light in colour. Fill a clean jar with the leaves and top with either extra virgin olive oil or almond oil making sure all leaves are covered 1/4″ from the lip of the jar, place lid on jar and put in a sunny place indoors and leave for a month shaking the jar daily. After a month strain off and put oil into sterile storage bottles and label.
This can be used as a message oil for cellulite, fibromyalgia, rheumatism, and other muscle aches and pains. It can be used to treat eczema and psoriasis
Birch Leaf Tea: Pick fresh leaves in Spring or early Summer and dehydrate them until crisp, store in a dry container. To make a Birch tea, place 4 or 5 leaves in a cup or mug of boiling water, allow to infuse for 5-10 minutes. Dose: A cup three times daily.
Birch leaf tea is used to treat kidney stones, urinary gravel, cystitis, gout, arthritis, rheumatism, fluid retention, fevers.
Birch Sap: To collect Birch sap, a shallow hole is drilled through the bark of the Birch in the early Spring before the Tree gets it’s leaves. Insert a straw or tube that fits tightly in the hole, place the other end of the straw or tube into a collection bottle. After collecting for a week make sure you plug the hole up with a twig that tightly fits in the drilled hole so the Tree stops bleeding.
The sap is a refreshing drink as it comes out of the Tree, or it can be simmered down to produce an amber in colour syrup. The Birch sap is used as a cleansing tonic. Birch sap is rich in fructose where Maple has sucrose, where sucrose is sweeter, the Birch sap is a cooler, refreshing, and clear drink. Known to be the drink of the Elves.
With everything, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before use. Don’t use Birch if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, use with caution if you have seasonal allergies or known hyper-sensitivity to plant allergens. Keep Birch preparations out of reach of children as Birch oil contains 98% methyl salicylate, which has been fatal to children. Poisoning has occurred with as little as 4.7 grams of methyl salicylate applied topically.