The Poison Garden at Ireland’s Blarney Castle holds many potentially deadly plants but the Mandrake plant is one of the only ones that is kept in a cage. I suspect that is partly to protect the plant from visitors who would feel compelled to rip it up and steal it’s roots, for the root of the mandrake resembles a human figure and has been used since ancient times in the middle east and medieval Europe for magickal purposes. The plant’s many chemicals make it a hallucinogen, a painkiller, a deadly poison and some say an aphrodisiac. It was rubbed on the skin in the infamous witches flying potions which were probably less about a broomstick and more about a hallucinogenic trip. The Mandrake root is said to be a very powerful protection talisman and it’s human-like form makes it a perfect familiar, ready to do your bidding. More than one victim of the witch trials had her fate sealed by simply possessing this fascinating root. Ingesting the mandrake plant will make you incredibly ill and very well might stop your breathing, so if you find yourself in the company of a mandrake root, respect it as a protector and don’t try to eat it!