How to Make Pokeberry Ink

What is a Pokeberry?

Use the berries of the pokeweed plant to make ink for magical workings. Images by Panoramic Images/Getty Images

Pokeweed is a purplish-red berry found in many parts of North America. In the Midwest and most northern states, it blooms in early fall, typically around mid-September — just in time for Mabon. The poisonous red berries can be used to provide ink for writing - legend has it that the Declaration of Independence may have been drafted in pokeweed ink, although the final version that sits in the National Archives was done in iron-gall ink. Many letters written by soldiers during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, because it was something that was readily availably -- pokeweed grows over many parts of the country. According to the Ohio State University, pokeweed berries get their name from a Native American word for blood, owing to the color of the juice. Legend holds that tribal shamans used pokeweed berries to rid the body of evil spirits - probably because ingestion led to copious vomiting and diarrhea.

With a little bit of work, you can make your own pokeweed ink to use in magical workings, particularly those used in banishing spells. The ink seems to be sensitive to sunlight and browns when exposed to UV rays, so if you're going to store it, use a dark-colored bottle or store it in a cabinet out of the light.

Warning: the entire plant is toxic to humans, so don't try to eat them!

Making the Ink

Use a strainer to get all the juice out of the berries. Image © Patti Wigington 2010

You’ll need:

  • 2 Cups pokeweed berries
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • A glass jar or bottle

Mash the berries into a pulp in a small strainer over your jar. This will allow the juice to seep into the jar while the skins and seeds of the berries remain behind. Crush the berries as much as you can.

Finishing it Off

Add a dash of vinegar to thin your ink. Image © Patti Wigington 2010

Once you have the juice in the jar, add the vinegar and mix thoroughly. This will help thin the ink enough to use it in a fountain pen, as well as preventing spoilage.

Use Your Ink in Spellwork

Use your ink for magical purposes!. Image © Patti Wigington 2010

Use a quill or calligraphy pen to write or inscribe spells and incantations during magical workings. The ink really does have the bright pinkish-purple shade that you see in the photos! Be sure to cap the jar when not in use.

*Note: Some people recommend adding a dash of salt to the ink, or boiling the juice, but so far I’ve not found either of these steps necessary. Experiment a little and see what you can do!

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "How to Make Pokeberry Ink." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Wigington, Patti. (2023, April 5). How to Make Pokeberry Ink. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "How to Make Pokeberry Ink." Learn Religions. (accessed June 9, 2023).