The Poison Path Herbal: Baneful Herbs, Medicinal Nightshades and Ritual Entheogens
“Reading The Poison Path Herbal is like sitting around a fire on a moonlit summer night conversing with a master of occult secrets. Brilliantly discussing Renaissance magic and herbalism; Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse mythology; Biblical lore; and modern understandings of plant medicines; Michael seamlessly laces botanical science with entheogenic enchantment throughout this engaging work. In the process he outlines the Poison Path, showing the various mysteries and divine associations of Venus, Saturn, and Mercury. Read closely and carefully, as this book is not for the faint of heart. Michael is a real witch, and this is a book of real witchcraft, which includes recipes to make your own psychoactive tinctures, incense, beer, tea and ointments. Hell-he even teaches you how to grow the magical plants yourself! The Psychedelic Renaissance has been waiting for a book like this—an advanced entheogenic grimoire for the witchy, the wyld and the wyrd.” – Thomas Hatsis, Author of The Witches’ Ointment
The Poison Path Herbal is the magnum opus of my late twenties. It is a crystallization of something very intimate and personal to me. It is much more than a book about poisonous and entheogenic plants. Hatsis puts it perfectly, this IS a book of real witchcraft, and it is not shy or sensitive about exploring topics that strike a chord deep within us all. The resounding sound depends on how our instrument is tuned, and together we create a dark symphony. The Poison Path Herbal conveys a sense of my own personal style of magical practice. The reasons that I was so attracted to baneful herbs in the first place was because they represented so much of my own truth.
This is my baneful cosmology, a tapestry woven by Fate. In this book you will gain an understanding of what the Poison Path is, and what that means for us as occult practitioners. The study of ethnobotany spans cultures and time periods, and the Poison Path takes a specific interest in the occult aspects of entheology. I have tried to convey a deeper understanding of baneful herbs and their spirits through the lens of my own personal gnosis and academic study. The book is part grimoire and part herbal formulary, and like all herbals it includes many monographs about specific plants. However, I take a slightly different approach focusing on the lore and applications of plants with a particular affinity to magical practice. A large portion of the book is dedicated to phytochemistry and formulation, providing practical information and pointing out where the chemistry echoes the occult qualities, which is so often the case.
It is through the plants of the Poison Path that I came to work with and understand the spirits that are at the core of witchcraft. The Fates, the Witch Father, & Witch Queen are among the spirits that we will meet along the way, learning the herbs that contain their mythos. I introduce many spirits and esoteric concepts, drawing from alchemy, astrology and hermetic philosophy. The plants are the actors that play out a drama full of witchcraft, betrayal and intrigue. It is through the plants and their occult attributes that we can better understand the elements of folkloric witchcraft and entheogenic ritual.
The spirits of the Craft are enigmatic, hidden in the shadows, shapeshifters that can’t be fully grasped. Using the planetary archetypes of Mercury, Venus and Saturn I explain through example the practices classically associated with witchcraft. I use the planetary archetypes to categorize the mode within which we are working, more so than the plants themselves. There are many overlapping correspondences, and many baneful herbs are associated with Saturn. It is through their other aspects that we learn that they have subtle nuances. There is a reason these are the plants most associated with witches, and it is through them that we can learn so much about our selves and our magical practice.
I wanted this book to be a resource for people to gain an in-depth understanding into just how many ways these plants can be incorporated into ritual, and to get people thinking of them as numinous forces as much as powerful ethnobotanicals. The book is LOADED with occult correspondences, and subtle associations that will satisfy the armchariest of occultists. It is also a book for the herbal alchemist, containing chemical information on constituents and extraction processes. A truly multi-disciplinary tome of poison plant magic, The Poison Path Herbal, is a first step on the life-long path of phyto-gnosis! The book is a complimentary resource to the Poison Path course that I have prepared through The House of Twigs. It is an extensive work at your own pace course that introduces participants to important topics related to poison plant lore and their use in ritual and magic! More information about the course can be found HERE>
The Poison Path Herbal is available October 2021 from Inner Traditions/Bear & Company. It can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository and wherever else books are sold! Find it on our sister store at Queen Meb.