Second in the Poisons series is Aconitum, fr, aka aconite, monkshood or wolfsbane. It is a member of the Buttercup family and related to the Delphinium.
There are many myths and legends linked to this genus of plant. It was believed to be from the foam of saliva from the mouth of Cerberus of Hades. Hecate, Goddess of Witches, was one of the first to use wolf's bane. Arachne hanged herself in mortification for having dared to challenge Athene to a weaving contest, then losing. The goddess sprinkled her with aconite juice to turn her into a spider.
Medea used wolfbane to prepare a poison cup for Theseus.
Druids held wolfbane sacred.
Historically, wolfbane was associated with the witch cult in medieval times. . It is known as the Witch flower and has been used as an external painkiller in folk medicine as well as being used to poison enemy water supplies during times of war in ancient Europe and Asia. Hunters used its sap to poison spears, arrowheads & trap baits.
The roots are very poisonous but have been used medicinally. It contains the deadly poison aconitine, an alkoloid and neurotoxin that opens TTX-sensitive Na+ channels in the heart and other tissues, slowing heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and numbs pain.
In literature, aconitine crops up a lot, including Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
This picture is inspired by Romeo and Juliet. Juliet actually drinks the poison of deadly nightshade in order to appear dead to her family. Romeo, however, missing the memo, thinks she actually is dead and poisons himself with Aconitine. In my version Juliet wakes up just in time ^_^ because I hate misunderstandings.
Photoshop CS2, Wacom Intuos 2, references used for the initial pose and the actual flowers in the background. WIP and close ups can be viewed at [link]