Saturday, 28 February 2015

A Witch's World of Horrible Herbs...

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.
Enter the three Witches.


1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. 
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd. 
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—'tis time! 'tis time! 
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go; 
In the poison'd entrails throw.— 
Toad, that under cold stone, 
Days and nights has thirty-one; 
Swelter'd venom sleeping got, 
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot! 
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and caldron bubble. 
2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the caldron boil and bake; 
Eye of newt, and toe of frog, 
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, 
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, 
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,— 
For a charm of powerful trouble, 
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and caldron bubble. 
3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf; 
Witches' mummy; maw and gulf 
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark; 
Root of hemlock digg'd i the dark; 
Liver of blaspheming Jew; 
Gall of goat, and slips of yew 
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse; 
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips; 
Finger of birth-strangled babe 
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,— 
Make the gruel thick and slab: 
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, 
For the ingrediants of our caldron. 
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble; 
Fire burn, and caldron bubble. 
2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon's blood, 
Then the charm is firm and good.
William Shakespeare from Macbeth

I am sure most of us are familiar with at least one or two lines of this famous Shakespeare play but what interests me is the names of the items the witches are throwing into the cauldron, did they really use scale of dragon?  And if they did where in heck did they get it from?  Turns out that these things aren't quite as dramatic as you might think they are in fact folk names for herbs and plants ... bit disappointing really...

I have a cunning plan to share the herbs, their folk names and the magical uses with you over the next few weeks, look out for my Witch's World of Horrible Herbs blog posts...

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