SG - The Magical Mandrake: Roots, Rituals, and Subterranean Monsters

Not all stories starring the mandrake are fiction! Mandragora’s roots were often used in medicine and magic rituals, as Arjan Sterken and László Sándor Chardonnens will show us tonight.

Organised by Studium Generale

Tue 29 March 2022 20:00 to 22:00

Venue Workplaces at Impulse

About The Magical Mandrake: Roots, Rituals, and Subterranean Monsters

Folklorist and comparative religious studies scholar Arjan Sterken joins forces with philologist, specialist in medieval magic, and Catholic Satanist László Sándor Chardonnens during a thought-provoking and interactive evening.

How can we understand the practical application and the anthropomorphic iconography of the woman- and manroot in pre-modern times? What was the role of the mandrake in medicine and magic rituals? And where does the actual magic happen? The evening will be concluded with a root-carving workshop and discussion in which we wonder and ponder about these questions whilst shaping a root into a powerful cultic object.

About series ‘The Image of Plants: The Mandrake’

Many plants are rich in mythology and cultural meaning, but few find themselves so immersed in magic, folklore, and anchored in the human imagination as the mandrake. In this series we wander through the cultural and botanical history surrounding the plant that shrieks when torn out of the earth – making living mortals run mad by doing so, if we were to believe Shakespeare. What were the stories told about this potent plant, which is so animated and un-plantlike that its history reads like a biography? How were (and are) its human-resembling roots used in magic rituals? And what meaning does Mandragora officinarum hold for us today?  

About Arjan Sterken

Photo: TedVA
Photo: TedVA

Besides being a folklorist preoccupied with Saxon sagas, Arjan Sterken is a lecturer and PhD candidate in comparative religious sciences at Radboud University. His research focuses on the ambiguities of supernatural beings, as well as the process of Othering, in Indian and Germanic mythology and folklore. Arjan works with a variety of sources and theories: from Indo-European comparative mythology to structuralism, and from cognitive theory to Gnostic and Chinese sources.

About László Sándor Chardonnens

After a short-lived career as a biology student – and presumably prompted by some psychedelic visits to the Hortus botanicus Leiden – László Sándor Chardonnens’ attention shifted to medieval and early modern prognostics and dream divination. He studied English Language and Literature at Leiden University and became a philologist and university lecturer in medieval English at Radboud University. His current research focuses on ritual magic, early modern European magicians, and their magic books. Sándor is a devoted Catholic Satanist.