In witchcraft and occult practices, mandrake root is a very common and potent herb used as an ingredient for various spells, oils, potions, and ceremonial offerings. Mandrake root is said to come in male and female "shapes" where male mandrake roots resemble the shape of a human male and the female root resembling the body of a human female.
In particular, the mandrake root is the most powerful herb of love magick, and certainly one of the most deadliest. Ones that resemble a phallus are believed to possess great aphrodisiac qualities and were, at one time, the main ingredient used in Witches' love philtres (potions) despite their highly toxic properties.
A mandrake root that is soaked every Friday in a bowl of white wine and carried in a charm-bag made of red silk and velvet will give its possessor great sexual potency and make him or her attractive to the opposite sex. A mandrake root placed underneath a bed pillow will arouse passion between two lovers, even if one is indifferent.
Both male and female fertility is promoted by eating mandrake (males eat the male mandrake root and females eat the female mandrake root) or by carrying one as a charm, according to legend.
A tiny particle of powdered female mandrake leaf added to a cup of red wine (for passionate lovemaking) or white wine (for romantic love) is a powerful Witch's aphrodisiac.
In addition to love magick, mandrake roots possess the power to divine the future. More than one book on medieval Witchcraft and sorcery states that the human-shaped roots (both male and female) shake their heads to answer yes or no when questions are put to them. With the proper incantations, mandrakes can also be made to speak out loud or through telepathy. This is another way in which they can prophesy the future and reveal secrets. Mandrakes have been used by many modern Witches in spells and rituals that increase their psychic powers. Mandrake is carried in mojo-bags or worn on necklaces as powerful charms to attract good luck, and with the right spell, money placed in a box with a mandrake root will double overnight.
Mandrake root can also be used in exorcisms as it is believed that demons cannot tolerate mandrake root and it is poisonous to them. It is not uncommon during ancient exorcisms that a priest put a tiny piece of mandrake under the afflicted's tongue during exorcism. The potent mandrake help to drive out the evil essence from within the person.
WARNING: Extreme caution should always be exercised when using any part of the mandrake in potions, brews and philtres. It is a highly toxic plant, and misuse of it can result in sickness, delirium, or a slow and agonizing death.
According to the legend, when mandrake root is dug up it screams and kills whoever hears the cry. Ancient literature includes complex directions for harvesting a mandrake root in relative safety. Josephus (c. 37 AD Jerusalem - c. 100) gave the following directions for safely uprooting mandrake:
"A burrow must be dug around the root until its lower part is exposed, then a dog is tied to it, after which the person tying the dog must then run away. The dog is then enticed to follow him, and by doing so easily pulls up the root, but the dog dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear."
Mandrake is one of the traditional ritual herbs of the Samhain (Halloween) Witches' Sabbat and is sacred to the following Pagan deities: Aphrodite, Diana, Hecate and the legendary Teutonic sorceress known as the Alrauna Maiden.