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Do Mandrakes Really Scream? Magic and Medicine in Harry Potter banner image map.

Introduction page featuring a red background, introduction written in a white lettering script.  In the center is an image of an interior view of alchemy workshop showing the alchemist and many symbols important to alchemy, such as the rising sun, the moon, a lion and a serpent, a scale, a square, plants, a cross/caduceus, and most importantly, fire. A blue background with Who is Nicholas Flamel? written in white lettering script at the bottom. In the center is a head and shoulders, full face illustration of Nicholas Flamel. A green background with Magical Creatures and Magical Plants written in white lettering script at the bottom. In the center is a white unicorn A purple background with Classes at Hogwarts written in white lettering script at the bottom. In the center is an interior view of a pharmacy; showing the master, standing and pointing to shelves of apothecary jars, instructing the novice who is sitting at a table with an open book. Do Mandrakes Really Scream? Magic and Medicine in written in blue lettering with Harry Potter written in red lettering.

Magical Creatures and Magical Plants written in white script letters with a green background.

Harry Potter, do you know what unicorn blood is used for? The blood of a unicorn will keep you alive, even if you are an inch from death... Firenze, the centaur, as he stood in the Forbidden Forest with Harry Potter and Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling written in black lettering.

Right side, full length view of a white unicorn.Unicorns are magical creatures featured frequently in the Harry Potter series. Several of the main characters have wands made with unicorn hair, including Harry's best friend Ron Weasley, classmate Neville Longbottom, and fallen hero Cedric Diggory. In addition to unicorn hair being used in wands and potions, the evil Lord Voldemort uses unicorn blood in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to keep him alive.

In traditional lore it is actually the horn of the unicorn that was magical. Many believed that a unicorn's horn had the ability to neutralize poisons. Some courts would make ceremonial cups from "unicorn horn" to prevent poisoning. This "unicorn horn" probably came from the narwhal, a tusked sea mammal.

From antiquity to today, accounts of unicorns and their magical properties are found in literature, art, and legend. Unicorns are included in the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, where the Harry Potter stories are set.

The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the Philosopher's Stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers.  The stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the Elixir of Life, which will make the drinker immortal. Firenze, the centaur, as he stood in the Forbidden Forest with Harry Potter and Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling written in black lettering.

Aurifontina chymica; or, A collection of fourteen small treatises concerning the first matter of philosophers, for the discovery of their (hitherto so much concealed) mercury open to show the title page.The title of the first book in the Harry Potter series refers to the Philosopher's Stone, a magical object that provides unlimited wealth and immortality to whomever possesses it. The evil Lord Voldemort who is thought to be dead, attempts to steal the Philosopher's Stone, so he can regain life and power over the witches and wizards of the world.

While Harry Potter is fictional, many alchemists spent their lives trying to create the Philosopher's Stone. Sir George Ripley's, A Treatise of Mercury and the Philosopher's Stone, documents one such quest. Ripley, a 15th century Englishman, wrote many well known texts on the Philosopher's Stone. Sir George's enormous wealth convinced many in his time that he had, in fact, discovered the stone.


Instead of roots, a small, muddy and extremely ugly baby popped out of the earth.The leaves were growing right out of his head.  He had pale green, mottled skin, and was clearly bawling at the top of his lungs. Harry Potter and Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling written in black lettering.

Hortus sanitatis open to show the two pages. On the left page there are two images within the text. The top image is rain falling on a tree. The bottom image is a male human figure with a mandrake plant growing from the top of his head.Male human figure with a mandrake plant growing from the top of his headMandrake is the common name for the plant genus Mandragora. All parts of the mandrake are poisonous, though its roots have been used in magic rituals. Mandrake roots appear to have arms and legs and resemble the human body. In fact, in many botanical texts, the mandrake root is drawn in the form of a human. Legend also says that when a mandrake root is pulled from the ground, it releases a scream fatal to any listener.

In Harry Potter, the mandrake is re-imagined when ear-muffed Harry and his classmates must re-pot young mandrakes—living, crying, and biting babies—in their Herbology class.