When you see a toad, the response is not one of delight; here in Australia the cane toad has become a prolific pest destroying the delicate ecosystem. The appearance of the toad is ugly, you can’t deny it, they look like they just crawled out of some hellish dimension. Its skin is rough and moist but not slimy and the bumps on its skin are poison glands. If the poison (bufotenine) gets into your eyes, mouth or cuts it can cause intense irritation.
In Europe toads were associated with witches and the devil. They were thought to be familiars of witches. There are funny stories of how witches used to dress their toads in black velvet, put little bells of their feet and make them dance. They were also believed to accompany witches to the Sabbats.
The breath of a toad and its glance were considered dangerous. If you were touched by a toad’s breath it would bring infection, and if you were caught in its gaze you would be hypnotized and fall on the ground convulsing. Of cause these are just superstitions. It was also believed that if you touched a toad it would give you warts.
Toads are found in almost all parts of the world. The toad is different from the frog because it breeds in water but lives mostly on land, sometimes miles from permanent pools.
In alchemy the toad symbolized the process of putrefaction, letting the substance rot and decay in the bottom of the alchemist’s flask. This is thought of as the dark side of nature.
It is traditionally believed that if you put they heart and the left foot of a toad over the mouth of a sleeping man he will tell you any questions you ask.
An interesting thing about the toad is it secretes a poison that contains hallucinogens; sometimes called “toad’s milk” for its thick, white consistency. It was used in some recipes for flying ointment.
A toadstone is a curious object; this was believed to be a precious stone that resided in the toad’s head. It was thought to detect poison by turning hot in its presence, sweating and changing colour. The Scottish believed that a toadstone would prevent the burning of a house or sinking of a boat. It was a lucky talisman that would bring happiness and was best worn in a ring. An accommodating toad would throw up the stone for you, otherwise you would have to remove it yourself from an old toad on a red cloth, this method was instructed by a 17th century naturalist Edward Topsell.
However the toad despite its strange qualities is not an evil creature, it has duel symbolism attached to it; it represents resurrection because it is associated with the moon. In China they thought there was a three-legged toad living on the moon, to them it represented long life and wealth.
Toad as a totem is representative of the moon and represents both life and death, it is a powerful totem and those with the toad totem may gain a greater perspective and see things more clearly.
Brad & Sas