In Witchcraft Medicine, a theory of the mandrake association with Hekate and Aphrodite is that the two plants appear to be related species (Solanaceae) retaining the same qualities 76. Atropa belladonna is the mandrake associated with Hekate where the name of this species comes from Atropos who was one of the three Moirai or goddesses of fate who decided life and death.
Hekate, as Daughter of the Night, was sister to the three Moirai and therefore aligned with Atropa belladonna (nightshade). Mandrake is psychoactive, it can cause hallucinations, is a strong aphrodisiac and therefore forms part of the ingredients for love potions and witches’ salves 76.
Mandrake was also present in Hekate’s garden according to the Orphic Argonautica. In the traditionally prescribed manner of harvesting mandrake are some indirect references to Hekate: The use of a dog, an animal strongly associate to Hekate, to pull out the root and the belief that mandrake is most powerful if harvested at a crossroad 77.
76 Muller-Ebeling, C, Ratsch, C. Storl, W-D. 2003. Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices and Forbidden Plants. USA: Inner Traditions Bear and Co, pg 108.
77 d’Este, S. and Rankine, D. 2009. Hekate: Liminal Rites. London: Avalonia, pg 96.
The Symbols of the Goddess Hekate