How to Make Poison

You’ve murdered before. Good. Now you’ll want to refine your technique and go for a killing more subtle, more elegant. Undoubtedly your next move should be poison. It is clean, classic, and with just a few basic ingredients and a bit of alchemy performed in even the most modest of kitchens, you can achieve a fine toxin useful for dropping into a drink or rubbing onto the shaft of an arrow. Wear gloves for that, this one can be absorbed through skin. You will need patience for your efforts as well, unlike a loud splashy war or a more intimate stabbing, a successful poisoning is not enhanced by anger. Let your rage go, for now. Holding onto anger is like poisoning yourself and expecting your enemy to die.

First, source a yew tree. Yew trees are so delightfully toxic that even inhaling the sawdust or pollen can kill you, though it would have to be a great deal of the pollen. Fortunately, if you suffer from hay fever you will be pleased to learn that you may avoid springtime’s seasonal allergies altogether, as the best time to harvest a yew is in winter when the tree’s poisonous content is at a peak. You will also want to visit your yew in the fall when it fruits because the seeds it produces at that time are especially deadly. Your objective ought to be the especially deadly.

Look in the yards of particularly old churches for your yew tree. They are often to be found whimsically surrounded by graves, which conveniently set the exact right tone for your project. If you do not have an old churchyard handy, look in a beech forest where the yew likes to grow in the darker understory, which can exude a picturesque creepy vibe of its own, depending upon the time of day and your level of comfort in woodlands.

Because autumn’s decay and death does set a nice grim stage, you may wish to lean into the vibe and enhance the witchy elements of your project. Perhaps for autumn seed gathering choose an auspicious day like Halloween, when the boundaries between life and death dissolve. If you require more flexibility in your calendar, select any day in winter during a waxing moon, and if you choose daytime, select a time after the sun has reached the peak of its trip across the daytime sky, though you may decide the dark of night is preferable to day for nefarious action. If so, wait until after Orion has reached its highest point in the sky and the same goes for the moon. Finally, be careful to harvest the yew when the hour and minute hands are both falling.

Be sure to make an offering to Santa Muerte before you begin, do not neglect her powerful influence. Light a black candle for protection against murderers. She is always thirsty so offer her something to drink, preferably alcoholic, and give her something sweet to eat. She likes cigarettes. She also takes cash. She will help you. She helps everybody exiled in wretchedness.

Pick the freshest of the needles rather than older ones, and gather as many seeds as you can find. They will be enclosed in a fleshy red berry that is edible so do feel free to snack. Absolutely do not swallow the seed itself unless you are your own enemy which is likely. Or unless you are a deer. Are you a deer? So don’t swallow one. If you swallow a seed accidentally, induce vomiting.

Grind the needles and seeds in a mortar and weigh what you have: each gram contains approximately 5 mg of toxin. For an effective poison you will need between 3 mg and 6 mg per kilogram of your enemy’s body weight to do the job, or as a rule of thumb about one gram of material per kilogram of your target’s weight should do the job nicely. If an average person weights 70 kilograms, you will need 70 grams of plant material or about 2.5 ounces. Depending upon your ultimate plan, it doesn’t take much.

Combine the ground yew mixture with 190 proof alcohol. Heat to a gentle simmer, and reduce by a third. Cool and decant into a glass jar and add equal parts water and vinegar. Soak for a lengthy period of time, the longer the better. Days. Weeks. As long as you can stand to wait. You are cultivating patience as well as death, though some find impatience to be its own virtue in the end, as you will have to get on with the poisoning proper at some point. Certainly if your aim is warfare you must be ready in time for battle season which begins in the springtime. Nobody wants to go to war in the winter. Keep an eye on signs the new year is upon you and craft your poison accordingly.

When it is time, again paying attention to the moon, the sun, Orion, and the clock hands, let all be falling and not rising, strain the remaining mixture into a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Condense by half, then store in a dark glass bottle. You hold death in this bottle. Protect it from the light. Never let it leave your sight unless you hide it well. Bury it in a grave, somebody else’s or better than that your own. Hide it from yourself, you are clearly not a person to be trusted. No wonder you are exiled in wretchedness. You have death and nothing else.