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Monday, March 26, 2007

Mandragopedia - Mandrake (Mandragora)

Mandrake (plant)

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Mandragora officinarum

Mandragora officinarum
Scientific classification
Mandragora autumnalis
Mandragora officinarum
Mandragora turcomanica
Mandragora caulescens
Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora belonging to the nightshades family (Solanaceae). Their roots, because their curious bifurcations cause them to have a semblance to the human figure (male & female), have long been used in magic rituals, today also in neopagan religions such as Wicca and Germanic revivalism religions such as Odinism.

The mandrake, Mandragora officinarum, is a plant called by the Arabs luffâh, or beid el-jinn (i.e. genie's eggs). The parsley-shaped root is often branched. Magicians mould this root into a rude resemblance to the human figure, by pinching a constriction a little below the top, so as to make a kind of head and neck, and twisting off the upper branches except two, which they leave as arms, and the lower, except two, which they leave as legs. This root gives off at the surface of the ground a rosette of ovate-oblong to ovate, wrinkled, crisp, sinuate-dentate to entire leaves, 6 to 16 in. long, somewhat resembling those of the tobacco-plant. There spring from the neck a number of one-flowered nodding peduncles, bearing whitish-green flowers, nearly 2 in. broad, which produce globular, succulent, orange to red berries, resembling small tomatoes, which ripen in late spring.

In legend it is alleged that when the plant is pulled from the ground, it shrieks in pain. Supposedly, this shriek is able to madden, deafen or even kill an unprotected human; the occult literature includes complex directions for harvesting a mandrake root in relative safety. For example Josephus (c. 37 AD/CE Jerusalem – c. 100) gives the following directions for pulling it up:
"A furrow 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 get away. The dog then endeavours to follow him, and so easily pulls up the root, but dies suddenly instead of his master. After this the root can be handled without fear."


Like many of its relatives of the Solanaceae, Mandragora contains a range of tropane alkaloid drugs of: atropine, hyoscyamine, and others. The plant, alone or as an alcoholic infusion, has a long history of use as an anaesthetic.

A frequently-quoted example of early chemical warfare is an incident from 200 B.C., when Carthaginian defenders of a city withdrew, leaving behind quantities of wine laced with mandragora. The invading Romans drank the wine, were rendered insensible, and were killed by the returning defenders.

Dioscorides (c. 40 Greece - c. 90) alludes to the employment of mandragora to produce anaesthesia when patients are cut or burnt. Pliny the Elder (23 Italy –79) refers to the effect of the odour of mandragora as causing sleep if it was taken "before cuttings and puncturings lest they be felt". Lucian (c. AD 120 eastern Turkey - after 180) speaks of mandragora as used before the application of the cautery. Galen (129 Pergamum, Turkey - 200), has a short allusion to its power to paralyse sense and motion. Isidorus (Cartagena, Spain, about 560 - April 4, 636) is quoted as saying: "A wine of the bark of the root is given to those about to undergo operation that being asleep they may feel no pain."

Ugone da Lucca, who was born a little after the middle of the twelfth century discovered a soporific which, on being inhaled, put patients to sleep so that they were insensible to pain during the operations performed by him — the drug he employed is known to have been mandragora.

Some people use European mandrake as a belladonna and it can cause mania, hallucinations, and delirium.

Hebrew Bible

In Genesis 30, Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob and Leah finds mandrakes in the field. Rachael, Jacob's second wife, the sister of Leah, is desirous of the mandrakes and she barters with her sister for them. The trade offered by Rachael is for Leah to spend the next night in Jacob's bed. Soon after this Rachel, who was previously barren, gives birth to a son, Joseph. There are classical Jewish commentaries who point out that mandrakes help barren woman to conceive a child.

Mandrake in Hebrew is דודאים, meaning "love plant". It was believed by Asian culture to ensure conception. Most interpreters hold Mandragora officinarum to be the plant intended in Gen., 30, 14 (love-philtre), and Cant., vii, 13 (smell of the mandrakes). Numbers of other plants have been suggested, as bramble-berries, Zizyphus Lotus, L., the sidr of the Arabs, the banana, the lily, the citron, and the fig. But none of these renderings is supported by satisfactory evidence.

New Testament

Some Gnostics hold the belief that when Jesus was given a rag of vinegar to drink from at his crucifixion that the rag actually contained a mixture of mandrake. The plant is said to have rendered Christ unconscious so that he only appeared dead from the torture. Thus he was alive for the three days after the Crucifixion, explaining his miraculous resurrection; an unlikely event given the story also is said to indicate that his heart was pierced by a Roman spear to his side while hanging on the cross.

Magic, spells and witchcraft

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Mandragora, from Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474).
Extract from Chapter XVI, Witchcraft and Spells: Transcendental Magic its Doctrine and Ritual by Eliphas Levi. A Complete Translation of Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie by Arthur Edward Waite. 1896
"... we will add a few words about mandragores (mandrakes) and androids, which several writers on magic confound with the waxen image; serving the purposes of bewitchment. The natural mandragore is a filamentous root which, more or less, presents as a whole either the figure of a man, or that of the virile members. It is slightly narcotic, and an aphrodisiacal virtue was ascribed to it by the ancients, who represented it as being sought by Thessalian sorcerers for the composition of philtres. Is this root the umbilical vestige of our terrestrial origin ? We dare not seriously affirm it, but all the same it is certain that man came out of the slime of the earth, and his first appearance must have been in the form of a rough sketch. The analogies of nature make this notion necessarily admissible, at least as a possibility. The first men were, in this case, a family of gigantic, sensitive mandragores, animated by the sun, who rooted themselves up from the earth ; this assumption not only does not exclude, but, on the contrary, positively supposes, creative will and the providential co-operation of a first cause, which we have reason to call God.

Some alchemists, impressed by this idea, speculated on the culture of the mandragore, and experimented in the artificial reproduction of a soil sufficiently fruitful and a sun sufficiently active to humanise the said root, and thus create men without the concurrence of the female. (See: Homunculus) Others, who regarded humanity as the synthesis of animals, despaired about vitalising the mandragore, but they crossed monstrous pairs and projected human seed into animal earth, only for the production of shameful crimes and barren deformities. The third method of making the android was by galvanic machinery. One of these almost intelligent automata was attributed to Albertus Magnus, and it is said that St Thomas (Thomas Aquinas) destroyed it with one blow from a stick because he was perplexed by its answers. This story is an allegory; the android was primitive scholasticism, which was broken by the Summa of St Thomas, the daring innovator who first substituted the absolute law of reason for arbitrary divinity, by formulating that axiom which we cannot repeat too often, since it comes from such a master: " A thing is not just because God wills it, but God wills it because it is just."

The real and serious android of the ancients was a secret which they kept hidden from all eyes, and Mesmer was the first who dared to divulge it; it was the extension of the will of the magus into another body, organised and served by an elementary spirit; in more modern and intelligible terms, it was a magnetic subject."

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Mandrake twin roots found in Southern Crete - Greece

It was a common belief in some countries that a mandrake would grow where the semen of a hanged man dripped on to the earth; this would appear to be the reason for the methods employed by the alchemists who "projected human seed into animal earth". In Germany, the plant is known as the Alraune: the novel (later adapted as a film) Alraune by Hanns Heinz Ewers is based around a soulless woman conceived from a hanged man's semen, the title referring to this myth of the Mandrake's origins.

It was, and still is, said that mandrake increases fertility in women, but this is an under-studied subject.

In fiction

Machiavelli wrote a play Mandragola (The Mandrake) in which the plot revolves around the use of a mandrake potion as a ploy to bed a woman.

Shakespeare refers four times to mandrake and twice under the name of mandragora.

"...Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday."
: Shakespeare: Othello, Act 3 Scene III

"Give me to drink mandragora...
That I might sleep out this great gap of time
My Antony is away."
:Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra, i. 5.

"Shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth."
: Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, iv. m3.

"Would curses kill, as doth the mandrake's groan"
: King Henry VI Part 2 Act 3. Scene II

Thomas Lovell Beddoes uses the name of mandrake for a character in his play, Death's Jest Book.

John Webster in The Duchess of Malfi

Ferdinand "I have this night digged up a mandrake..."

John Donne's song:
: "Go and catch a falling star
: Get with child a mandrake root
: Tell me where all past years are,
: Or who cleft the devil's foot..."

D. H. Lawrence referred to Mandrake as that "weed of ill-omen".

Ezra Pound used it as metaphor in his poem Portrait d'Une Femme:
: "You are a person of some interest, one comes to you
: And takes strange gain away: [...]
: Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else
: That might prove useful and yet never proves, [...]"

Samuel Beckett, in Act 1 of Waiting for Godot the two attendants discuss hanging themselves and reference is made to the belief that mandrake is seeded by the ejaculate of hanged men.

:Estragon: Wait.
:Vladimir: Yes, but while waiting.
:Estragon: What about hanging ourselves?
:Vladimir: Hmm. It'd give us an erection.
:Estragon: (highly excited) An erection!
:Vladimir: With all that follows. Where it falls mandrakes grow. That's why they shriek when you pull them up. Did you not know that?
:Estragon: Let's hang ourselves immediately!

Lee Falk created the U.S. comic strip Mandrake the Magician in 1934 – Mandrake was an illusionist who used an impossibly fast hypnotic technique.

J. K. Rowling: Mandrake is used to revive people who have been petrified in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. From Chapter 6:
: "Now, who can tell me the properties of the Mandrake?" (...) "Mandrake or Mandragora is a powerful restorative," said Hermione, sounding as usual as though she had swallowed the textbook. "It is used to return people who have been transfigured or cursed, to their original state."
: "Excellent. Ten points to Gryffindor," said Professor Sprout. "The Mandrake forms an essential part of most antidotes. It is also, however, dangerous. Who can tell me why?"
: Hermione's hand narrowly missed Harry's glasses as it shot up again.
: "The cry of the Mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it," she said promptly.
: "Precisely. Take another ten points," said Professor Sprout. "Now, the Mandrakes we have here are still very young."
Later, in Chapter 13:
: (...) Madam Pomfrey was pleased to report that the Mandrakes were becoming moody and secretive, meaning that they were fast leaving childhood. (...) "The moment their acne clears up, they'll be ready for repotting again"
And in Chapter 14:
: (...) and in March several of the Mandrakes threw a loud and raucous party in greenhouse three. This made Professor Sprout very happy.
: "The moment they start trying to move into each other's pots, we'll know they're fully mature," she told Harry.

Margit Sandemo includes a Mandrake (Alrune) in her series The Saga of the Icepeople. This is not any Mandrake, but the original "draft" of mankind made by God. This was the first attempt to create a human, but the Mandrake got thrown away when God created Adam from dust.

Edguy, a German Power-Metal band, use Mandrake as the name of one of their albums. The album cover featuring a sinister looking jester apparently harvesting the plant. As well the first track on the album is called "Tears of a Mandrake".

Stanley Kubrick has a character named Group Captain Mandrake in .

Deep Purple has a song called Mandrake Root on their 1968 album Shades of Deep Purple.
"I've got a Mandrake Root
It's some thunder in my brain
I feed it to my babe
She thunders just the same
Food of love sets her flame
Ah, stick it up

I've got the Mandrake Root
Baby's just the same
She still feels a quiver
She's still got the flame
She slows down, slows right down
I've got the power"

The Iron Maiden song "Moonchild", from the album "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" includes the line "Hear the Mandrake scream". The album was Iron Maiden's first concept album and throughout it the lyrics of each song contain numerous occult and religious references.

In Pan's Labyrinth (El Laberinto de Fauno) (directed by Guillermo del Toro) the faun gives Ofeila a mandrake root to put under her mother's bed to make her well. Ofelia is instructed to put it in a bowl of milk and feed it two drops of blood every morning.

In Ravane Katya's The Mandrake Curse A mandrake immobilizes one of the main characters.

In The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, the main characters name is John Mandrake.

In popular games

One example of mandrake being used in a game is Final Fantasy IX, as one of the monsters that can give high amounts of "Experience Points" and "Gil," while being rather difficult and dangerous to defeat. Also in Final Fantasy XI they appear in the low level areas of Sarutabaruta as short, cute, and plant-like creatures with sprouts on the top of their heads.

Another example is Ultima Online, as one of the Mages' "reagents." These are used to cast spells. Instead of simply being mandrake, it is "Mandrake Roots." This reagent is able to be made into some potions, described on the Ultima Online Playguide as potions that will increase the characters Strength attribute.

A third example is in Breath of Fire III where it is an item that restores all HP and AP to one character. However, it can only be bought at the Plant, though it is sometimes dropped by enemies.

This item is sure to be found in many other games that include any form of alchemy.

Another Example is from the Tales of Series where the Mandragora Appears Humanoid With Green Hair and flowers on it's head but in the Monster List it classified as a Plant

A curious link found when researching this was Mandrake Games.

See Also

Scientific classification or biological classification is how biologists group and categorize extinct and living species of organisms.
..... Click the link for more information.
Plants are a major group of living things including familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, ferns, and mosses.
..... Click the link for more information.
Magnoliopsida is the botanical name for a class: this name is formed by replacing the termination -aceae in the name Magnoliaceae
..... Click the link for more information.
The Solanales are an order of flowering plants, included in the asterid group of dicotyledons. Some older sources used the name Polemoniales for this order.
..... Click the link for more information.
Solanaceae is a family of flowering plants, many of which are edible, while others are poisonous (some have both edible and toxic parts).
..... Click the link for more information.
Carolus Linnaeus (Carl von Linné)

Carl von Linné, Alexander Roslin, 1775. Currently owned by and hanging at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
..... Click the link for more information.
Mandragora officinarum is a species of Mandragora'', which is used medicinally.
..... Click the link for more information.
Shades of Deep Purple

by Deep Purple
colspan="2" | July 1968|- colspan="2" | May 11 - May 13, 1968|- Genre
..... Click the link for more information.
Plants are a major group of living things including familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, ferns, and mosses.
..... Click the link for more information.
Magic and sorcery are the influencing of events, objects, people and physical phenomena by mystical or paranormal means.
..... Click the link for more information.
Wicca is a Neopagan religion and a religious movement found in various countries throughout the world.
..... Click the link for more information.
Germanic neopaganism is the modern revival of historical Germanic paganism.

Reconstructions of the Germanic pagan traditions began in the 19th century
..... Click the link for more information.
Odinism is a term used by various currents of Germanic neopaganism; see
  • Odinic Rite
  • Ásatrú

..... Click the link for more information.
Mandragora officinarum is a species of Mandragora'', which is used medicinally.
..... Click the link for more information.
The word occult comes from the Latin occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to the 'knowledge of the secret' or 'knowledge of the hidden' and
..... Click the link for more information.
Josephus (c. 37 – c. 100 AD/CE), who became known, in his capacity as a Roman citizen, as Flavius Josephus[1]
..... Click the link for more information.
Tropane (8-methyl-8-aza-bicyclo[1,2,3]octane) is a nitrogenous bicyclic organic compound with chemical formula C8H15N.
..... Click the link for more information.
Atropine is a tropane alkaloid extracted from the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and other plants of the family Solanaceae.
..... Click the link for more information.
Hyoscyamine is a chemical compound, a tropane alkaloid it is the levo-isomer to atropine. It is a secondary metabolite of some plants.
..... Click the link for more information.
alcohol is any organic compound in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom of an alkyl or substituted alkyl group.
..... Click the link for more information.
Gaius Plinius Secundus, (23–79) better known as Pliny the Elder, was an ancient author and natural philosopher of some importance who wrote
..... Click the link for more information.
Lucian of Samosata (Greek: Λουκιανὸς
..... Click the link for more information.
Greek: Γαληνός, Latin: Claudius Galenus of Pergamum (129 – 200 AD), better known in English as Galen
..... Click the link for more information.
Saint Isidore of Seville (Spanish: San Isidro or San Isidoro de Sevilla) (c.
..... Click the link for more information.

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Jesus (8–2 BC/BCE to 29–36 AD/CE), [1] also known as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity.
..... Click the link for more information.
Crucifixion is an ancient method of execution, where the victim was tied or nailed to a large wooden cross (possible as a variation a pole or beam) and left to
..... Click the link for more information.

This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia® - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. The text was not checked or edited by anyone on our staff. Although the vast majority of the Wikipedia® encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.

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