I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses...I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory and even put a stopper in death."
Animal Terms as Secret Code Names
In an article entitled Please Pass Me The Eye of Newt: What’s Really In That Witch’s Cauldron, Darcy Larum emphasises the importance of plants and herbs used as food and medicine by Muggle witches, herbalists, and alchemists.
In particular, Darcy details how these learned potioneers would apply alternative names dependent on the plant’s attributes, growth habits, and use.
These alternative names would be used as a secret code to protect the “recipe” of precious potions and herbal remedies from being copied by others. This was essential for witches and herbal healers, as their livelihood was dependent on their knowledge!
The code names would often make reference to animal species and their body parts in place of plant parts. For example, an “eye” actually refers to the blossom or seed of a plant, the “guts” represent the root, the “tail” is the stem, and “hair” is dried herbs.
Commonly used animal code names include:
For example, if a witch were to use “rat guts,” in a potion, they would actually be using valerian root, an herb commonly used to ease anxiety and improve sleep.
Unless you read your copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi over the summer holidays, you would understandably mistake these secretly herbal components as non-vegan potion ingredients!
We can take inspiration from the historical magical folk who embraced the use of plants to concoct their potions without harming any magical or non-magical creatures.
Like the Half-Blood Prince, we can enhance our work by modifying what we currently have available to us. At The Protego Foundation, we like to call it "Plant-Based Potion Making!" So Accio your cauldron and let’s get brewing!
Written by Lucy McCabe
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