The seeds of the Mountain Laurel are as lovely as the tree itself. Also known as Burn Beans and Mescal Beans, these seeds are from the tree Sophora secundiflora. Early botanists who named it were possibly honoring the Sophia, Gnostic goddess of truth and wisdom. Supposedly the very toxic seeds were brewed into a hallucinogenic, vision-seeking beverage by the Apaches, but nobody really knows what the recipe was, how lethal it may have been, or if this is why botanists named the plant for Sophia.
I wear these beautiful red beads for legal situations, personal protection, speaking truth to power, and women's protection. The first introduction I had to actual witchcraft was through this plant! A high school boyfriend of mine got in trouble with the law, and his mother's witch counselor had Edmund tuck one of the seeds in his mouth when he testified before the judge in court, to make his speech more persuasive and compelling, and, I suspect, to curb his terror of the situation.
Later on in life, in my college days when I was studying botany, I was fascinated with the bright red shiny beans. I knew about the Apache vision brew, but fortunately I was too protective of my brain to try to rediscover the recipe by experimenting on myself. Instead, it occurred to me that you don't have to actually eat these powerful plant poisons to get their wisdom, but you could absorb it more subtly by just communing with the plant directly. So I took to wearing my "ear-beans" in my ear! I would place the bigger ones (so they wouldn't get stuck in my ear of course!) in my ear like ear plugs, so that the spirit of the seeds could whisper truths into my ear! and of course they were ornamental as well.
I matronize only a few trees in Austin that have the most perfect red beans, and I gather and drill the beans on Wednesdays in the waxing moon. I use dark glass seed beads with blue or peacock iridescence as contrasting spacer beads. The short necklaces are about 14-15 inches long, choker length and have 28 beans for each day of the lunar cycle. The long necklaces fit over any head, are about 27-30 inches long and have about 53 beans. These seeds are TOXIC and you should not let anyone or your dog chew on them. (Although Google as I do, I have found no actual cases/reports of anybody being poisoned by them.)
Now a dear friend has brought me ritually harvested beans from a tree that makes PUMPKIN-ORANGE beans instead of red ones. I make them for Samhain/harvest season