On Vervain

A few years ago, Tom and I were having sharing a bottle of wine and talking about witchery and plants (as usual) and he looks over at the vervain growing in our garden and asks “Why vervain?” I didn’t understand his question, and so to clarify, he says “I’m wondering how it got such a wealth of magical lore associated with it.” Indeed, it is quite an unassuming plant. It lacks the dark glamoury of belladonna and datura, the bold sensuality of roses, and the uncanny lightness of mistletoe. It’s lightly scented with small flowers, yet for all its seeming normality, vervain is one of the most well known magical plants, with an abundance of lore outweighing most others.

Vervain is a hardy perennial in the genus Verbena, growing up to 3 feet high, with opposite leaves which are toothed and fairly thin growing on square stems. Small, five petelled blossoms, usually white, blue or lavender, grow on a spike (though some species bloom from a small head of flowers instead) and bloom in the height of summer. Vervain are generally drought-resistant, tolerating full to partial sun, and enjoy well-drained, average soils but can be found on limey soil or calcareous sites as well. There are over two hundred species in the genus Verbena, though many locations have a single representative that dominates–Verbena officinalis is one of the few species native to Europe, for instance. The most diversity in the genus is found in the Americas; we grow 4 species in our garden (V. hastata, V. simplex, V. bonariensis, and V. officinalis). Most of the vervains are possessed of the same subtle witchery in slightly different “flavors”. (Lemon verbena, though, is a completely different plant in a different genus.)

The genus name, as the historian Pliny tells us, refers to the Roman term verbenae, which was applied to a class of plants that was considered very powerful and featured in sacred ceremonies. Pliny also goes on to describe the uses of a plant belonging to this category known as hiera botane (or sacred plant), that the Latins called verbenaca–the noble vervain. It was one of Hippocrates favorite healing herbs, and got a reputation in the ancient world as a heal-all. Various writers in the ancient world indicate that it was used for ritual purification and as part of the rites of establishing holy altars in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian cultures, and that among the names it held in this capacity were Juno’s Tears, and Tears of Isis. Virgil mentions its magical use by and enchantress. Pliny the elder, writing in natural history, relates that vervain was one of the 4 sacred plants used by the druids, contemporary to his own time.

Pliny’s writing is also the origin of many of the harvesting taboos associated with vervain: “It must be gathered about the rising of the Dogstar, but so as not to be shone upon by sun or moon; and that honeycombs and honey must be first presented to the earth by way of expiation. They say also that a circle must be traced around it with iron, after which it must be taken up by the left hand, etc.”

Vervain’s reputation as a magical plant affording healing, protection and purification was undiminished in the medieval period. During this period it acquired the name simpler’s joy for its use in making magio-medicinal potions and preparations. The harvesting charms were Christianized, but they still address the plant with respect due such an herb of power, as you can see in this version dating from 1608:

Hallowed be thou, Vervein, as thou growest on the ground,
For in the mount of Calvary there was thou first found.
Thou healedst our Saviour Jesus Christ, and stanchedst his bleeding wound;
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy Ghost, I take thee from the ground

Additionally, vervain was one of the herbs of good Saint John, believed to peak in mystical power on St. John’s Eve.

It is therefore no surprise that the 19th Century folklore writers, eager to preserve a diminishing magical world, collected and described this information in detail. There is also evidence that it continued to be used in magical practice during the 1800’s; it’s one of the magical plants used in spells in Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, and a number of references in the early 19th century mention the gathering of the plant for occult use in northern France. Perhaps these sources prompted vervain’s inclusion in the formation and practices of the modern day witchcraft movement– drawing magicians, druids, and witches alike to the holy vervain.

The ethereal grace of vervain is hard to describe, but when you observe this plant, especially at twilight, it appears as if illuminated by an inner glow. Culpeper’s Herbal (dating from the mid-1600’s) mentions that vervain is good for headaches and those who are “frantic” (among other conditions), and today the herb is often used as a nervine to calm anxious minds. As such, vervain is a wonderful plant to assist in quieting the mind and achieving trance states. Modern practitioners make use of vervain potions for the work of empowering, be this in the form of a wash for empowering magical tools and vessels, a holy sacrifice to charm the place of working, or potions to strengthen and empower the aetheric body. Finally, the inner illumination that can be observed in vervain in the fading light of day indicate its use to increase the Sight, a fact backed up by its use in soothsaying since antiquity.

Ultimately, I had no answer for Tom as to “Why vervain?” but it is definitely an herb of quiet strength and hidden power.


Making Rose Tincture

The sunrise is golden with a few wisps of pink clouds over the ridge line. As the dew evaporates in the summer morning, I anoint my brow with the oils of saffron and cedar and frankincense. Barefoot and bare headed and silent, I pour out fresh milk and honey in front of the rosebushes. I inhale their scent– spicy and floral with a bit of citrus– and carefully use the curved knife to harvest the heirloom field roses and sprays of soft pink Victorian climbing roses, the richly-scented damask roses, and the golden yellow musk roses. I place the blossoms gently in the tincturing vessel and the potion begins.

We’ve been using Tincture of Roses for a few years now and are planning to add it to the shop this summer. No simple love philtre, this. Rose tincture is added to the sabbat wine to strengthen the bonds between the company of witches, both those in body and in spirit, as well as with tutelary spirits of the group. It may also be used for a period of time to fortify and balance the aetheric body in preparation for works of dreaming, faring forth and spirit contact. Finally, a few drops placed in the mouth before summoning assists in compelling spirits and lends cunning power to the voice of invocation.

Tincture of roses resized

On Mugwort

Tonight is Saint John’s Eve, the traditional time to collect fern seed. It’s also a day when certain herbs are at their most potent (which I blogged about a few weeks ago); one of these is mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). Native to temperate Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa but naturalized throughout North America, mugwort is one of several species in the genus Artemisia along with southernwood, sweet annie, wormwood, tarragon and a number of sagebrushes. It has fairly small, inconspicuous flowers but beautiful, fragrant leaves that are finely lobed and green above and silver beneath. You can often find it growing rather vigorously in waste places, greenways, and along creek sides where it prefers open ground and plenty of sun.

Mugwort likely gets its English common name from its use as a bittering ingredient in beer by the Anglo-Saxons where it pre-dates the use of hops, though Grieve in a Modern Herbal also suggests a connection with the word moughte (moth). In the middle ages, it was called St. John’s Plant or Saint John’s Girdle (Cingulum Sancti Johannis), because when gathered on St. John’s Eve it was believed to give protection against diseases, evil spirits, and misfortunes. Lore says that St John the Baptist wore the plant for protection in the wilderness.

The nine herbs charm, a famous 10th century half pagan and half christian magiomedical herbal preparation which was intended for the treatment of poisoning and infection, invokes mugwort first:

Remember, Mugwort, what you revealed,
what you established at the mighty proclamation
‘Unas’ you are called, oldest of herbs.
you may avail against three and against thirty,
you may avail against poison and against contagion,
you may avail against the loathsome one who travels through the land.

Many Anglo-Saxon leechbooks also state that mugwort is a traveler’s herb, which prevents a traveler from becoming tired and weary. Harvesting should be done on either Saint Johns Eve, or failing that, under a waxing moon before the plant flowers. In the Anglo-Saxon Leechbook of Bald it says that the herb should be plucked before sunrise (i.e. at night), first uttering the words “Tollam te Artemisia ne lassus in via” (I take of you, Artemisia, lest I grow weary on the road) and making a sign over the plant before it is gathered.

The commentary in Sauer’s Herbal Cures, the first published American Herbal, gives us another glimpse at the nature of this magical plant. Mugwort is one of the key herbs in Pennsylvania German folk medicine and is used in a number of remedies like ague and fevers and is especially “devoted to the reprieve of womankind”. One German name for mugwort is beyfuss (goose foot), which is said to refer to the goosefoot tracks made by witches, and another is simply aldi fraa (old woman) which may also refer to the same goose-footed goddess of witches. Additionally it’s given as one of the green herbs used to flavor goose and other poultry.

In Where Witchcraft Lives, Doreen Valiente has this to say about the herb: “Some old time scryers believed that it helped their powers to drink a tea made of mugwort before attempting to practice the art. Mugwort has from the earliest times had a reputation as a “witches herb”.” Valiente further relates the powers of the moon, the crystal ball and mugwort tea, which she testifies she finds “quite pleasant”. Modern witches often use mugwort to empower their divination tools. Since the late 19th century, mugwort has been used to stuff dream pillows as well.

All this lore of night-flying geese and moths, dream pillows and divination tools, protection on long journeys under the watchful eye of the moon, gives us a picture of a powerful plant ally for dreaming and divination. Mugwort is a true witches herb which features heavily in our personal practice and a number of our products.


A Spell for Beauty

This is a reworking of an old spell for beauty.

On the day of Venus when the moon is waxing, arise early and collect seven fragrant roses as soon as the morning dew dries. Take these roses to your kitchen and steep them several hours in a quantity of whole milk. As evening falls, mix the white of one egg, beaten, with a tablespoon of this fragrant milk and a tablespoon of fine honey. Apply this potion to your face and recite this charm:

luc lac
ovum mel
rosas bellus

Leave the mask to dry for about 20 minutes and wash off with cool water.

On Frankincense

Light-winged smoke, Icarian bird,
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight,
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
By night star-veiling, and by day
Darkening the light blotting out the sun;
Go thou my incense upward from this hearth,
And ask the Gods to pardon this clear flame.
~”Smoke” by H.D. Thoreau

This morning, the house is filled with summer sunlight and the fresh, balsam, lemon, and pine scent of frankincense. In Isis and Osiris, the historian Plutarch relates that Egyptian priests burned frankincense at dawn, and it’s not hard to see why. The scent of frankincense is often described as unmistakably solar. Recent research has suggested that a compound found in frankincense causes a sensation of warmth and a feeling of exaltation when inhaled and may help lower anxiety.

Frankincense (also called Olibanum) is one of the oldest documented resins used in magical and religious practice, and has historically used for blessing and devotion, and for drawing good and blessed spirits and expelling the bad. It’s been used for millennia in various religions as a temple incense. As mentioned above, it was a sacred incense in Egypt. In Hellenistic Greece, it was called for as the appropriate incense offering in a number of the Orphic Hymns. The Zoroastrians burn it for purification. Frankincense is also an ingredient in Ketoret, the sacred Jewish temple incense blend, and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches use it to fume mass.

We use Frankincense for two main magical purposes: purification and sanctification. Whereas many practitioners like to use sage to cleanse their space and etheric bodies, we find that frankincense performs this better. (Sage is suitable for earthing or grounding forces, but in our experience doesn’t really do much to cleanse and purify.) Frankincense also is uplifting to the mind and spirit of the practitioner and helps calm anxiety. It iss useful to establish ritual space, promote an atmosphere conducive to magical work, and to aid in meditation and scrying. Frankincense is also an ingredient in a number of blessing spells and formulae.

Pro tip: To get the best fragrance from your frankincense you need to make sure it doesn’t burn too quickly or too hot. We often use a small oil burner with a tea-light beneath to gently heat higher quality tears. You need a small one where the bowl is quite close to the flame; ours is about 3″ high.


A Prayer to Aradia

This morning while pruning the rosehips to force a second flowering, I was thinking about Aradia. I recently reread Charles G. Leland’s Aradia, Gospel of the Witches. The book purports to be a collection of traditional witchery collected from worshipers of the goddess Diana in Northern Italy and was an influential text on the modern witchcraft movement.

Aradia is a complex figure who possibly has her origins in Herodias and her daughter Salome who conspired in the death of John the Baptist. In the medieval period, Herodias was one of the names (along with Diana, Holda and Abundia) of the Lady of Night, the supernatural leader of a cult of witches who flew forth by night and traveled in spirit and got up to all sorts of mischief. Carlo Ginsberg’s Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath deals with this extensively.

In Leland’s text, Aradia is a messiah figure, the daughter of Diana, sent to the Italian peasants to teach them witchcraft. The arts she teaches them (in addition to operative magic for the attainment of desires) are also tools of subversion and rebellion against the rich who hoard wealth while people suffer, the government that supports this inequality, and the dominant religion which oppresses them. While the Gospel of the Witches is a legend set against the background of medieval or renaissance Europe, it was published in 1899 and certainly also could reflect social inequality and injustices of the industrial revolution. Sadly, it’s also still relevant to modern times. Income inequality, racism, homophobia– these problems are currently all too real and prevalent. Aradia, “the first of witches known”, was sent to teach witches the tools to end oppression, destroy the systems and people who would subjugate them, and to bring liberty and happiness to the Children of Night.

I think perhaps many of us could use her help. To that end, this beautiful prayer to Aradia, written by Jonathon Sousa may prove useful.

Thrice I speak thy sacred name,
Thrice I chant and thrice I sing –
Erodiade, Erodiade, Erodiade –
Daughter of the Moon and Sun,
Queen who reigns at the Mother’s side,
Lady of the Woods,
Protectress of the outcast and marginalized,
Messiah and Second Eve to the Witches of Earth,
come, fierce Erodiade,
called also Herodias and Aradia,
moved by my entreaties.
To the weak, bring strength.
To the oppressed, bring liberty,
with liberty, the knowledge to enjoy it,
and – in that knowledge – the wisdom
to claim its power responsibly.
To the lovelorn and lonely,
bring companionship,
and the reminder of their especial bond
with All That Is, a most intimate lover.
To the despondent and broken,
bring healing and peace.
Erodiade, Beloved Daughter,
Soul of Earth, Leader of the Fairy Rade,
Bride of the Goat-footed Angel,
accept this sacrifice of words –
forge it into a garland
worthy to crown your head.
Salve, Erodiade, figghia di Diana,
ascolta a mia scongurazione,
aora e sempre!
~Jonathan Sousa

Diana resized

On Setting Lights

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

It’s fairly common to hear modern-day magical practitioners mention “burning a candle” for someone who needs help in much the same way Christians will mention praying for someone. Generally the setting of these lights are meant to ease suffering and impart blessing and healing. This sort of work has a long history.

Oil lamps predominated in early Egyptian and Jewish temples wherein they represented the light of the spirit world. Magic lamps are found throughout the Greek Magical Papyri (a collection of spells, formulae, and rituals from 100 BCE – 400 CE Graeco-Roman Egypt), and directions are given for a number of divination, dream, and love spells involving lamps. The Picatrix, an Arabic manuscript on magic and astrology written around 1000 CE, mentions both candles and lamps used for magical and ritual purposes. Torches were specifically associated with certain religious rites in the ancient world and seem to fulfill a magical purpose; for instance instead of specifying an appropriate incense offering, the orphic hymn to Nyx recommends “The Fumigation with Torches”.

During the Roman empire, candles and lamps were often used as part of the religious and magical work itself, being lit as petitions (votives) to the Gods and spirits, particularly by those who were not priests. Early Christians adopted this practice and it continues to flourish in the Roman Catholic church. By the medieval period, beeswax candles had overtaken the popularity of lamps in magic and ritual.

The Renaissance magician Agrippa stresses the importance of candles or lamps in the performance of magic. In his Three Books of the Philosophy of Natural Magic, he postulates that Light originates in the One, diffuses through the three worlds (Divine, Celestial and Material) and is related intimately to the fire within all things. He states:

The Celestial, and bright Fire drives away spirits of darkness; also this our Fire made with wood drives away the same, in as much as it hath an Analogy with, and is the vehiculum of that Superior light; as also of him, who saith, “I am the Light of the World”, which is true Fire, the Father of lights, from whom every good thing that is given comes; sending forth the light of his Fire, and communicating it first to the Sun, and the rest of the Celestial bodies, and by these, as by mediating instruments conveying that light into our Fire. As therefore the spirits of darkness are stronger in the dark: so good spirits, which are Angels of Light, are augmented, not only by that light, which is Divine, of the Sun, and Celestial, but also by the light of our common Fire. Hence it was that the first, and most wise institutors of Religions, and Ceremonies ordained, that Prayers, Singings, and all manner of Divine Worships whatsoever should not be performed without lighted Candles, or Torches. (Hence also was that significant saying of Pythagoras. Do not speak of God without a Light.)

As time went on, more and more of the magical actions associated with a working were fulfilled by the candles originally used in the work to bring and augment the power of good spirits. By 1913, A.E. Waite described ceremonial magic workings using candles with color correspondences, placement, and planetary and angelic sigils carved on them for specific purposes. Sigils and charms which would have been written out on paper or parchment began to be carved into candles or placed around the glass of novena candles. With the discovery and growth in availability of paraffin and aniline dyes, color symbolism started being incorporated into the candles as well. With Henri Gamache’s publication of The Master Book of Candle Burning in 1942, describing a Protestant variation of the types of candle burning already popular within the African diasporic traditions, elaborate candle burning rituals were cemented into modern folk magic.

Today, candles of pure beeswax or colored paraffin in various sizes and shapes are carved with sigils of magical intent, anointed with scented oils, and dressed with herbs and minerals to be burned alone as a complete spell or incorporated into a complex magical working. Novenas — candles lasting several days — are used to petition saints, angels, and archons. Additionally, candles may be used as devotional sacrifices for spirits. The power of candle magic to fuel a spell or feed spirits comes from the consumption of the wax and transformation into light; using the candle this way substitutes the wax for your own energy. The appropriate signs and symbols, herbs and oils focus the process, harnessing the energy released by the flame to a specific end.


The Nightmare Charm

To protect the dreamer from being hag-ridden or plagued by nightmares, take a length of horsehair and braid it into a cord. While braiding, chant the following charm over it:

Tha mon o´micht, he rade o´nicht
Wi´neither swerd ne ferd ne licht
He socht tha Mare, he fond tha Mare,
He bond tha Mare wi´her ain hare,
Ond gared her swar by midder-micht
She wolde nae mair rid o´nicht
Whar aince he rade, thot mon o´micht.

This binding charm dates from the 14th century, and a version of it is quoted in King Lear. It should be chanted a total of nine times. In modern English it translates to:

The man of might, he rode all night
With neither sword, nor army, nor light.
He sought the Mare, he found the Mare,
He bound the Mare with her own hair,
He made her swear by mothers might
That she would no more ride at night
Where once he rode that man of might.

Once you have the horsehair cord, thread it through a hag-stone and knot it, forming a loop. Hag-stones, also called holy stones or Odin stones, are stones which have a hole naturally worn through them and can be found at the beach or streams and rivers. They’re used in folk magic for a number of uses, but one of which was to protect dreamers and horses.

You may also put a religious medal of Saint George, who is often named specifically as the man of might in other versions of the charm (see Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft), on the horsehair cord as well. Hang the amulet either from the bed or over it and the work is done.

Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_053The Nightmare. Johann Heinrich Füssli, 1790−1791

On Aloeswood

“All thy garments are fragrant with myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.” Psalm 45:8

Aloeswood is a rare and intensely spiritual wood, also known as agarwood and lignum aloes, that has been used for millennia in both Eastern and Western magic. Not to be confused with the aloe vera plant, Aloeswood is the resinous heartwood of several species of large trees native to Southeast Asia in the genus Aquileria. The fragrant wood is only produced in individual trees as a defense response to a fungal infection in a process which takes years. Only about seven percent of the trees in the wild are naturally infected with the fungus, and this rarity has led to past over-harvesting and significant risk of poaching. Currently, thanks to new inoculation techniques, sustainable plantations have been established in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Generally called lignum aloes in old grimoires and texts, it is often classified as having solar virtue, which as the Astrologer William Lilly describes “are plants that smell pleasantly, are of good favor … strengthen the heart and comfort the vitals, clear the eyesight, resist poison, or dissolve any witchery or malignant planetary influences.” Agrippa includes it in several of his planetary suffumigations, and it’s also one of the ingredients in the incense in the Book of AbraMelin the Mage.

Aloeswood is also mentioned a number of times in the Bible, where we find three main uses: sanctification, sensuality, and embalming. In many of these instances, it’s written of in conjunction with myrrh and cinnamon (or cinnamon’s relative, cassia). Our own consecration incense reflects this ancient relationship. Incidentally, the dual use of scents for the purposes of sanctification or making something holy and for a sensual aphrodisiac may seem strange to our modern view, but this probably more reflects our separation of body and spirit inherited from overarching monotheistic morality.

An early modern materia medica mentions aloeswood being used in the East as an incense burned in holy temples as an offering, but also as a cordial to strengthen the mind and spirit and preserve the memory. Even today, aloeswood is an oft-used incense ingredient in high quality Japanese incenses, and very high grades of the wood are burned and savored at special occasions and fancy parties. The resinous wood also still finds use in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic practice.

The scent of aloeswood is highly complex: sweet and woodsy and earthy. We believe its nature is one of sanctification, bringing (or augmenting) holiness to the physical plane. Much like frankincense, it has an uplifting nature as described by Lilly in the quote above. As such, it’s useful as a temple incense, to establish sacred space and attract good spirits, and to strengthen and cheer the mind and spirit.


Geomantic Sigils

We often get asked about the origin of and the meaning behind the symbols drawn on our working oils. The short answer is that they’re our versions of specific geomantic figures that are resonant with the nature and planetary force of each oil.

Working Oils

Geomancy was a method of divination widely practiced through the Renaissance in both Europe and the Middle East and originating in the interpretation of markings in dirt or the pattern of cast pebbles. It was refined over time and became a sophisticated method of practical prediction thought to communicate with the world soul. The practice of geomancy was later resurrected by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, but remains underutilized in modern magic. I first encountered the art of geomancy and the sixteen geomantic figures reading Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft (where he refers to them as witch runes) as a young witchling, and then again later in reading Agrippa (there’s a section in Pseudo-Agrippa’s Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy dealing with the practice of geomancy). I find it a highly useful method of divination, and I’ll probably blog more about my work with it and how it fits into our practice in the coming weeks.

The geomantic figures are sixteen figures formed by dots– 4 lines of either one or two dots stacked on top of one another. For divination, you come up with figures using some method of generating random numbers (e.g. random scratches in the dirt, coin flips, the number of chirps in a cricket’s song, the number of pebbles snatched from a stream, etc.) and these figures are combined, arranged and interpreted. These figures have specific meanings, areas of influence, combinations of elemental forces, and associated planets, zodiac signs, and symbols. Thus, much like the runes, they could be said to be specific magical forces that can be used for practical spellwork in addition to divination. This is how they’re used with regard to our working oils.

In the above product photo you can clearly see our sigil on the bottle of The Oil of Influence; this is our version of the figure conjunctio. Conjunctio’s nature is that of the crossroads, the meeting of different forces which interface and work together and is ruled by the planet Mercury, the quicksilver conjurer. Below, you can see the “dot form” of conjunctio on the left, and our sigil for influence on the right. When developing sigilized forms of the geomantic figures, you should retain the underlying double points and single points, but these can be embellished with diamonds, triangles, dots, crosses or open circles, and connected with straight lines or arcs as you see fit. The end result here is an interlocking symbol, bringing together the target of the spell with the magician doing the work. The symbol sort of looks like two tongues, appropriate for work that involves exerting control over people and institutions through communication. Additionally, the center of the figure shows a fixed eye. In many forms of folk magic, including Appalachian practice, “the influence”–a force of compelling fascination, is put on people through the fixed gaze of the witch.


In Frances Barrett’s The Magus, you can find alternative forms of the more familiar patterns composed of dots. Studying these forms carefully will give you some idea of how the dots are connected to form these sigils and from this knowledge you can develop your own versions of the geomantic figures like we did.

Here are another couple of examples of the layered meanings behind our versions of the figures.

The geomantic figure for Love Oil is that of puella. It’s classical meaning it that of love and beauty and femininity and the figure is associated with the handmirror of Venus. In addition to these meanings, our sigil incorporateds the form of a vessel or chalice, bringing to mind the ace of cups in the tarot. This could be the spell of the “loving cup” with the love philtre pouring in, or a representation of the blade conjoining the cup as in the great rite. It’s also a fairly vulvic symbol, appropriate for an oil ruled by Venus, the mistress of love, beauty and pleasure.

For Blasting Oil, the geomantic figure used is cauda draconis, associated with the volatility of fire, disaster and calamity, and combines the forces of the malifics Saturn and Mars. The cross pieces on our sigil are reminiscent of an old alchemical symbol for poison. In addition, the sigil is a clear representation of a forked stave, invoking the poisonous tongue of the Serpent of Old and the forked blackthorn blasting rod.