Gallery: Witchy Animals of Shakespeare

Anna Brendle
for National Geographic News
October 28, 2002
In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, three witches brew a potion of
animal parts: toad "venom," snake fillets, newt eyes, and more. What is
it about certain animals and their body parts that makes us think of
witchcraft and Halloween? Check out the photo gallery link above to find

Listen to a dramatic reading

Witch 1:
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd
Witch 2:
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whin'd
Witch 3:
Harper cries: 'Tis time, 'tis time.

Witch 1:
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Witch 2:
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Witch 3:
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark…
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Witch 2:
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

O! well done! I commend your pains,
And every one shall share i' the gains.
And now about the cauldron sing,
Like elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

Witch 2:
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.

From Shakespeare's Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

Join the National Geographic Society

Join the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organization, and help further our mission to increase and diffuse knowledge of the world and all that is in it. Membership dues are used to fund exploration and educational projects and members also receive 12 annual issues of the Society's official journal, National Geographic. Click here for details of our latest subscription offer: Go>>

© 1996-2008 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.