Tag Archives: mandrake

Lita Burke Talks with Interviewers

Strange Case of the Half-Boy Half-Dog Baffles Scientists: A Clever Wizard Explains

Interviewers have a knack for getting Lita to confess all sorts of things. Here is more tittle-tattle about Clockpunk Wizardry.

Lita Wrote Her First Fantasy Story

Lita Wrote Her First Fantasy Story

In a recent interview, Lita chatted with the folks over at Authors’ Cave. After an exhaustive interrogation that required a pound of fine chocolates for medicinal purposes, out came the truth. The details may surprise Gentle Reader, or for the skeptics, it might sound like the usual fantasy worlds claptrap. You decide.

Yes, Girls Can Be Wizards Too

This scandal started decades ago when Lita wrote her first fantasy story and shared her masterpiece with family and friends. Oh, how they wrinkled their noses when the young heroine, who Lita called a wizard, helped a lost dragon find his way home.

These affectionate critics shouted that girls couldn’t be wizards. Witches, perhaps, or enchantresses. Sorceresses. “The whole concept was silly,” they said. Lita explains in the Authors’ Cave November 2014 eZine how she fixed that sorry state of affairs.

A Chocolate-Laced Interview Reveals the Truth About  the Magical Causes of Cynanthropy

A Chocolate-Laced Interview Reveals the Truth About the Magical Causes of Cynanthropy

Shocking Proof About the Half-Boy Half-Dog

Much of this chocolate-laced interview had to do with Clockpunk Wizardry. It was time for Lita to come clean about the mysterious case of the half-boy half-dog cynanthrope.

At first, Lita shrugged and tried to gloss over the specifics. “Anything can happen in fantasy worlds,” she said. Further questions brought out the truth.

The Authors’ Cave eZine for November 2014 has the first chapter proof concerning the boy/dog story. Lita describes the outrage of young science geeks writing made-up stories. Also learn about the surprising dangers of gardening mandrake roots, and why you should keep your pets far away.

Carrion Crow at Old Gallows Field

Bestiarum Vocabulum: Mandrake

The Bestiarum Vocabulum is the wizard’s encyclopedia of faerie beasties and mundane crossovers living in the lake and forest near Lita’s castle.

Mandrake

Mandrake

mandrake [man drāk] noun, c.1200; Gr < mandragoras  L < OE < ME mandragora; also nightshade, mayapple.

  1. Denizen of the Clockpunk Wizard world.
  2. A vegetable-based homunculus inhabited by a minor demon. Only mandrake plants cultivated in soil underneath gallows and other places of execution will produce inhabitable roots (wizards can find abandoned gallows fields by consulting with the local carrion crows). The mandrake-summoning spell requires a blood sacrifice, which the minor demon claims with a deadly shriek.  The minor demon uses the life energy of the sacrifice to animate the mandrake plant’s human-shaped root.
  3. Personages: Go Fer’s demon in Forever Boy.
  4. See: “Lita’s Magic Show: Mandrakes and Minor Demons” and “Dig Dog, and Die

Dig Dog, and Die

A dog digging for mandrake roots, from Mandragora Tacinum Sanitatis (Wikipedia)

I wanted to talk today about a dog’s occupation you will find in Lita’s forthcoming (next month, in October) story, Forever Boy. I searched for a 15th or 16th century practice involving a hazardous, magic-related activity for dogs. Let me tell you what I found.

All in the (Nightshade) Family

The mandrake is a medicinal plant related to deadly nightshade, and causes a narcotic effect. Mandrake has a parsnip-like root 3 to 4 feet long. Large, dark-green leaves extend from the root crown like a tobacco plant. Mandrake leaves have a foul odor. The primrose-type flowers produce a fruit with a yellow-apple appearance.

Mandrake roots resemble a human torso. It purportedly has magical powers. Old texts depict the male root with a long beard, and the female with bushy hair.

Killer of a Job

The best mandrake plants grew under gallows trees, where the body fluids of hanged murders fell to the ground and quickened the root’s magical properties. The problem was that the roots shrieked when pulled out of the earth. These cries killed anyone within hearing distance. It was hard to find employees for this work. The position had high turnover.

Here is where a dog’s occupation came in.

Mandrake harvesters dug a trench to reach the roots, tied a dog to a root, ran out of earshot, and coaxed the dog to come to them (usually with a piece of meat). The tethered dog pulled the root out of the earth and died from the plant’s screams. The dog’s death placated the root and the men could then safely handle it.

No Dogs Were Harmed in the Writing of This Book

Fiction writing is all about answering “What if…?” So, what if a mandrake-digging dog did not die? Why didn’t it die? Why would Wizard Kadmeion and his assistant Bright be interested in this dog? And most important, what happened to the jerk of a mandrake harvester who let other dogs die?

We meet our Forever Boy while he is digging for mandrake roots. He doesn’t die. There’s a minor demon involved. Kadmeion and Bright are nearby. And of course, things go horribly wrong.

I’ll tell you all about it in October.