Hemlock

  • Conjunction of Mars and Saturn

    Daemonorops, star thistle, wild tobacco, and asafoetida intensified by hemlock accord, black musk seed, mortuary cypress, and black gum leaf.

    [Label illustration: Adolf Vogel]

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  • Poisoned Apple

    The queen stepped before her mirror:

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
    Who in this land is fairest of all?

    The mirror answered:

    You, my queen, are fair; it is true.
    But Little Snow-White with the seven dwarfs
    Is a thousand times fairer than you.

    When the queen heard this, she shook and trembled with anger, “Snow-White will die, if it costs me my life!” Then she went into her most secret room — no one else was allowed inside — and she made a poisoned, poisoned apple. From the outside it was red and beautiful, and anyone who saw it would want it. Then she disguised herself as a peasant woman, went to the dwarfs’ house and knocked on the door.

    Snow-White peeped out and said, “I’m not allowed to let anyone in. The dwarfs have forbidden it most severely.”

    “If you don’t want to, I can’t force you,” said the peasant woman. “I am selling these apples, and I will give you one to taste.”

    “No, I can’t accept anything. The dwarfs don’t want me to.”

    “If you are afraid, then I will cut the apple in two and eat half of it. Here, you eat the half with the beautiful red cheek!” Now the apple had been so artfully made that only the red half was poisoned. When Snow-White saw that the peasant woman was eating part of the apple, her desire for it grew stronger, so she finally let the woman hand her the other half through the window. She bit into it, but she barely had the bite in her mouth when she fell to the ground dead.

    The queen was happy, went home, and asked her mirror:

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
    Who in this land is fairest of all?

    And it answered:

    You, my queen, are fairest of all.

    A perfect, lovely, gleaming red apple whose sweetness masks a swirl of narcotic opium, oleander, and hemlock.

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  • Solanine, the Flower Girl

    In the distance, you hear the discordant tolling of churchbells, uneven and strangely triumphant. As you turn towards the beckoning clang, you feel something brush across your neck: a gentle caress before a hundred pricking trichomes tear at your skin. There is a sudden whipping sensation and a clench of movement, and your throat is clamped in a rigid green noose.

    A raspy voice whispers, “Pardon,” and the grip on you loosens.

    A woman stands behind you. She holds a basket overflowing with creeping vines and flowers: razor-thorned roses, vibrant bursts of oleander, drooping cascades of wisteria, sprays of white hemlock and lily of the valley, bruise-blue pillows of aconite, purple-veined henbane, and the snapping jaws of monstrously large flytraps, glistening wet with mucilage. Her clothes smell faintly of manchineel smoke, and her fingertips are stained green. She smiles and shudders as the green tendrils that surround her writhe and contract. She plucks a red-spotted mushroom from her basket and places it gently in your palm before turning away.

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  • The Witch Bride

    A fair witch crept to a young man’s side,
    And he kiss’d her and took her for his bride.

    But a Shape came in at the dead of night,
    And fill’d the room with snowy light.

    And he saw how in his arms there lay
    A thing more frightful than mouth may say.

    And he rose in haste, and follow’d the Shape
    Till morning crown’d an eastern cape.

    And he girded himself, and follow’d still
    When sunset sainted the western hill.

    But, mocking and thwarting, clung to his side,
    Weary day!-the foul Witch-Bride.

    (Aw, c’mon, Allingham. Foul is a pretty strong choice of words, dontcha think?)

    Pale and lovely, with eyes belladonna-wide: hemlock blossoms and ghostly nightshade veiled by wisteria, white frankincense, black amber, and narcissus resin.

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