Skip to main content

M is for Monkshood.....

Also known as Aconite or Wolfsbane and many other aliases, depending on the part of the world it's found, Monkshood is part of the aconitum family of plants, whose genus name can be translated to mean, without struggle.

Plants of the genus have been used for centuries in medicine and as poison-- most specifically as poison for arrow tips. Monkshood, which is the most common member of this plant family, grows in northern mountainous  regions.

Monkshood, in extremely small amounts has powerful therapeutic qualities, especially in the areas of pain relief. Derivatives of the plant can be ingested, or absorbed through the skin. In fact, the plant's poisonous qualities are so powerful that picking the leaves from the plant without the safety of gloves can be fatal. A tingling sensation followed by acute numbness will run the length of the victims arm and across the chest until the heart is affected.

Even, taking an innocent sniff of the plant's bloom can leave an individual giddy and light-headed.

Great care must be taken when gathering and preparing monkshood for medicinal purposes as accidental poisonings are a great risk. In fact, accidental poisonings are more frequent as the root of the plant is often mistaken for horseradish. But, as soon as the juice from the root touches a person's lips, an intense tingling sensation followed by numbness (much like the poisoning from gathering leaves) occurs. Once the poison hits the muscles of the heart, it can, initially, cause the heart to speed up, but then depresses the pulse until arrest. Respiratory arrest occurs as the respiratory muscles become paralyzed. One by one, the body systems stop.

One case of monkshood poisoning involved a group of World War I soldiers encamped in southern France, forced to forage and eat what they could find. Some came across the monkshood root and after ingesting it, died a short time later.

There was also the case of a dentist who was desperate to be rid of his father-in-law. His simple solution was to include a bit of monkshood in the filling he placed in the old man's tooth--- the problem shortly took care of itself.


Monkshood Memories

A pretty bloom, 
I dare not touch, 
nor sniff of its perfume.

By only sight,
can we safely admire,
or hope to survive the night.
           
                                                                                        --- e.a.s. demers

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Y is for Yeth Hound.....

Yeth Hound--- one of the incarnations of the "Black Dog" myth, this one located specifically, in Devon, England.

"Black Dogs" appear in myths across the world, most are associated with death and bad omens... i.e. Hell Hounds.

The Yeth Hound is said to be the spirit of an unbaptised child that takes the form of a headless black dog. The Hound wanders the woods at night making pitiful wailing sounds (though, I'm unclear as to how it makes wailing sounds without having a head).

The Black Dogs were possibly one inspiration from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ghost dog in The Hound of the Baskervilles-- "an enormous coal-black hound, but not such a hound as mortal eyes have ever seen."



Heed Not, the Lonesome Cry
Heed not, the lonesome cry, the baleful wail echoing through the woods. Seek not, the black hound's sigh, look not where the headless creature stood.
One sound, your limbs will shake, your heart filled with the deepest dread. One glimpse, your sou…

Scottish Festival and a bit of poetry...

The 38th annual Arkansas Scottish Festival was held at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas on April 7th - April 9th. This was the first time I'd ever attended. I'm sad to say I didn't even know the festival existed until last year. On Saturday, April 8th, a group of friends and I made the several-hour trek, determined to enjoy everything we could.
The weather was glorious, all bright, bonnie sunlight and mild temperatures. Seemed mother nature approved of the festivities. The campus was appropriately kitted out, and nearly everyone in attendance was properly *ahem* kilted out. 
Bagpipes playing, we ate meat pies--- well, mine was a 5-cheese mac & cheese pie--- watched clans parade their colors, got sunburned (darn our fair, Celtic skin), and wanted the day to last forever.
There were a host of competitions, everything from Scottish/Irish dance-offs, sheep dog trials, Tartan races, a Celtic poetry competition, piping and drum trials, even a bonniest knees competition (…

B is for Banshee.....

Irish bean sidhe and Scottish Gaelic bean sith, literally, woman of fairyland.


The mythology and legend surrounding the Banshee is a bit mixed. The most readily accepted story is of a hag-like creature wailing the impending death of someone nearby-- most ancient Gaelic families, especially the more well-to-do families, had their own Banshees that attached themselves to the lineage of the family name. I suppose it was a sign of station for a family to be able to claim their own Banshee--- I mean, who needs an exciting/ tongue-wagging-inciting skeleton in your cupboard when you've got a Banshee wailing in your rafters?
The origins of the more familiar Banshee may have stemmed from the ancient Keeners-- women who were employed to sing a lament at a funeral. The best Keeners were in high demand to "wail" and "weep" for the great personage who had fallen.

The Great families would boast a bean sidhe or bean sith-- a fairy-woman Keener--and having foresight, the Keene…