When we practice the art of Pharmakeia, we must understand that the physical actions of the plants should not be separated from its spiritual and magical properties to heal one properly. Again, we must see the plant as an ally and not just a tool if we want to explore all its potential.
Hekate Pharmakeia teaches us the life/death/rebirth cycle by the means of nature’s own magic. It is thought that She is mentioned as pharmakeia in the lost play of Sophocles, “The Colchian women” in which Kirke invokes Her for help in demonstrating her skills at herbal magic.
Here is another example of the link between Hekate and the path of poisons: The goddess was celebrated in the Eleusinian mysteries cult alongside Demeter and Persephone. It is said that the initiates of the cult of the Greater Mysteries fasted for several days, then ended their fast by drinking Kykeon, a psychedelic drink alternatively composed of opium poppy, pennyroyal, alcohol, ergot, or mushrooms before replicating the journey of Persephone to the Underworld, and so imitating their own death by going through numerous caves and underground tunnels. One of the mysteries taught in this place was the fact that death was not the end but only a passage, a step towards immortality of the soul. Talk about shadow work!
It should be noted that Poppy, a symbol of Hekate as well as one of Eleusis, is also a poisonous and medicinal plant which was known as early as 3500 BCE for its narcotic
properties; which illustrates well the concept of poison as medicine in the Poison path.
picture: Demeter holding wheat and poppies, carved over the gates of a temple in Eleusis.