- Hellebore (Helleborus Niger):
- translation: injure food; black, from the roots.
synonyms: Black Rose of Christmas, Christmas Rose, Christ Herbe, Melampode.
definition: calumny; scandal.
Hellebore blooms in the winter, and so is referred to as Christmas Rose. Atalus III, who was one of the great poison fanciers in history, had a fondness for hellebore, as the poison “racked the nerves and caused the victim to swell.” Pliny described a ritual for harvesting the roots of the plnt. A sword was used to draw a circle around the plant. The collector then prayed to the east for permission to dig up the plant. The collector would look to see if an eagle was flying nearby, for if an eagle was spotted, it foretold the death of the collector within the year. He also stated that Black Hellebore was used as a purgative in mania by Melampus, a soothsayer and physician 1,400 years before Christ. The plant was used to bless cattle and protect them from evil spells.
Gerard, in his famous Herball, said of it that “a purgation of hellebore is good for mad and furious men, for melancholy, dull and heavie persons, and briefly for all those that are troubled with blacke choler, and molested with melancholy.”
Hellebore is one of the four classic poisons, along with Deadly Nightshade, Aconite, and Hemlock.
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