Latin Name: Aconitum napellus
Folk Names: Monkshood, friar’s cap, devil’s helmet, bears foot, blessed lady’s gloves
Planetary Ruler: Saturn
Sacred To: Hekate, Kirke (Circe), Medea, Kronos
Botany: Monkshood is an erect perennial growing up to a little under 5 feet in height and 2 feet spread. The leaves are palmate with jagged edges, usually dark green with an alternate arrangement on the stem. Flowers are hood-shaped, hence the common name, and usually a deep bluish violet shade, though there are some white varieties.
Healing: Due to its highly poisonous nature, monkshood is rarely used in modern herbal medicine. However, when made into an ointment and applied externally, monkshood has been used to treat rheumatism.
Magical Uses: The mythical origins of monkshood are mentioned in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, the plant springing from Kerebos’s saliva as it dripped from the dog’s jaws. As a plant of Saturn, monkshood is sacred to deities of the dead, especially Hekate. It was used by Medea in an attempt to poison Theseus and juices from the plant have been used to coat spear tips and arrow heads. Monkshood is one of the ingredients in the classic witches’ flying ointment.
Unless you are familiar with the right dosage of monkshood, it is not advised to use the physical components of this plant in incenses, ointments or oils. If you are careful however, the petals may be added to necromantic charms, given as offerings to the khthonic powers or made into a tincture to consecrate magical tools. As a plant used in flying ointment, monkshood’s spirit may be petitioned as an aid to travelling in the Otherworld, although mandrake is a gentler guide.