Saturday, May 12, 2012

Little Shop of Horrors: Wolfsbane.

Am I the only one getting ads about this one "werewolf VS vampire" MMO? It's getting old. It's not that I don't like both of them, but both are overused, no matter how cool they are. Really, once one realizes that werewolves and vampires are both metaphors for different types of sex, there's nothing to talk about anymore. Still, I may as well sate  the werewolf fans out there by covering one of the few aspects of their fandom that actually exists:

Wolfsbane, also known as acontium, can be used to describe any of the various species of monkshood (genus Acontium).  It is usually used in reference to Aconitum vulparia, one of the varieties found in Europe. The internet has confirmed the complication in Ginger Snaps that monkshood (in general) grows virtually everywhere, but blooms mostly in the spring (perennial). Of all things, it is closely related to buttercups.

Wolfsbane originally had little to do with werewolves. The plant was probably used to kill wolves, and may have been used to ward off werewolves, but that's the extent of it. Wolfsbane only became popular from Universal's Wolf Man movies - as did the full moon transformation, silver bullets, and a million other modern werewolf conventions.  FYI, the Universal Studios version of Dracula was repelled by wolfsbane as well. Maybe they're not so different after all, eh?

Can't we all just get along? Or at least not have blood feuds?

Along with being associated with werewolves, wolfsbane has certain other occult applications. The plant was considered sacred to Hecate, the Greco-Roman goddess of witchcraft and crossroads. It's also linked to the planet Mars, both for its helmet-like shape and because of its heat-inducing toxin. Legend has it that witches dipped their flints in wolfsbane and threw them at enemies. This was the Wiccan equivalent of poison daggers, and considering they were tipped in wolfsbane, these shards were not to be taken lightly.

By the way, yes, wolfsbane is very poisonous to humans. Do not ingest it unless you reaaaallly think you're becoming a wolf - in which case, all you're doing is sparing the rest of us from your wolfish agony.  Monkshood works almost like tetrodotoxin - you know, the stuff that makes fugu so notoriously poisonous. Even handling wolfsbane requires gloves and hand-washing. Some people in China and Taiwan have tried eating monkshood, but one wrong step in the cooking and things turn deadly. Point goes to vampires for having a doable, if still dark, way of playing in real life. You can't even play werewolf unless, well...

 ...but let's not go there.

1 comment:

  1. Ha! *Snorts* No, it would be like that twisted furry episode of "My Strange Addiction" that still gives me nightmares. Thanks for the botany lesson though, my brain wrinkled. [=)