What Is Eye of Newt (and How Is It Used in Magic)?

Updated June 28, 2021
Close-up of the eye of a California Newt

Eye of newt has many uses in magic and casting spells. Like many old-world spell ingredients, eye of newt was a code phrase for a common ingredient - mustard seed.

Codenames for Spell Ingredients

Many accused of being witches were herbalists and were strongly connected to nature . Many remedies and potions were guarded secrets as were witches' spells. It's believed that codenames for herbs and other plants used in both potions and spells were created to protect the knowledge from those who would misuse it.

Shakespeare and Eye of Newt

This practice proved creative fodder for Shakespeare much to the outrage of witches. Shakespeare made eye of newt and other coded ingredients famous in his play, Macbeth.

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

In Macbeth, three witches brew up a spell to conjure ghosts. Some of the ingredients they toss into the cauldron are poetic sounding with a deliberate flair of the obscure and mysterious, such as "Eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog." Each of these is a code phrase for very simple ingredients:

  • Eye of newt is just a mustard seed.
  • Toe of frog is a buttercup, although some argue it is the leaf not the flower part of the plant that's used.
  • Wool of bat is nothing more than holly leaves.
  • Tongue of dog is houndstongue, a velvet-like leaf rosette considered an invasive weed that's toxic to grazing animals.

How Eye of Newt (Mustard Seed) Is Used in Magic

Black mustard seeds and yellow mustard seeds are both used in magic spells. Mustard seeds are considered good luck symbols, especially when worn as an amulet.

Top view of two bowls containing different types of mustard grains

Personal Protection

The Llewellyn publishing website features a brief explanation of how mustard seeds are used in spellwork and as good luck tokens. Protection spells use mustard seeds as ways to prevent the wearer from succumbing to diseases and simple things as headaches or the common cold. A mustard seed footbath is recommended as well as using the seeds to ward off negative energies and many other uses for personal protection.

Good Luck Charm

Yellow mustard seed is used in voodoo charms. The mustard seed is reported to be an ancient good luck symbol. Wearing an amulet with a yellow mustard seed can imbue the wearer with courage and bring about success in all endeavors.

Confuse Your Enemies

Black mustard seed is used in various spells to confuse and upset the scales of balance when a person is under seige by their enemies. There are various ways this tiny seed can disrupt the plans of evil intentions.

Protect Against Burglars

A well-known protection against burglars is to spread red mustard seeds around your home. Some spellworkers prefer to sprinkle the seeds outside to encircle the house.

Red mustard seeds

Eye of Newt, Toe of Frog

While they sound much more mysterious than they actually are, it's fun to learn what those original code names for spell ingredients really stand for. They offer a way to learn about one of the most important, basics element of the craft, which is discovering the history of witchcraft and why certain things were done as they were.

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What Is Eye of Newt (and How Is It Used in Magic)?