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Oxytropis flowerPurple Locoweed (Oxytropis lambertii) Info
The Navajo offered this plant during the Night Chant (petroglyph below shows shaman wearing a Bighorn headdress for this ceremony). This ceremony is actually 9 days long--4 days of purification, 4 days when the terrible but benevolent ones arrive, and one day of healing. This elaborate ritual involves many different songs, sandpaintings, various herbs, and the ceremonial sweat lodge. The Night Chant is for curing insanity, blindness, warping, crippling, facial paralysis, and deafness. It is usually conducted between the first frost and the first thunderstorm. It can be so expensive to conduct that whole families have been bankrupted by sponsoring a Night Chant for a sick member. Some native people sprinkled their corn crop with an extract of this herb to keep off grasshoppers, which were considered to be disguised ghosts or familiars.  This plant thus has a history of being magickally protective. It is worth using as a protectant against spirits or negative magick, especially when experienced in the winter. Top

Night Chant petroglyph In Herbalism: Europeans have also utilized this plant as a homeopathic remedy that in combination with other remedies is used against anxiety (please be aware that homeopathic remedies do not involve the ingestion of the herb itself and are vibrational in nature). I believe this use along with its form makes purple locoweed a Mercury plant. It has no other known herbal use. Although this particular Oxytropis does not usually contain the dangerous alkaloid responsible for poisoning livestock, especially horses, addicting them and driving them mad, it should still be considered poisonous and not ingested. However, wild animals like antelopes and mountain sheep can graze on it without problems, and wild birds enjoy the seeds. Top

OxytropisIn the Garden: This North American perennial plant grows wild from the middle provinces of Canada all the way south to Arizona and Oklahoma. It's found in mountains up to 8000 ft. The base of the plant forms a clump that sends up flower stalks, each with up to 25 flowers on it. The hermaphroditic flowers appear May-July and can be bright blue, purple, or fuchsia; they are very attractive to Monarch butterflies. The flowers gradually give way to the pods in August (you will get plenty seeds if you want them). This plant likes full sun and dryish soil, such as is found in dry prairies, gravelly areas (good for rock gardens), and bluffs. Like many members of the pea family, this plant helps enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen from the air and depositing it in the ground, so it helps the transformation of rocky soil. Purple locoweed is also known as rattleweed and Lambert crazyweed. Top

How to grow Purple Locoweed: How to grow purple locoweed: Nick seed and soak in hot water for 24-72 hours or until seeds swell, changing water every six hours. Sow in sterile planting medium as deep as the seed is wide and keep at room temperature to germinate in 30 days. Or sow outside in fall or spring and cover with 1/4" of soil to germinate in spring. Transplant to full sun and good soil on the sandy or gravelly side that never has any standing water or shade. It gets 6-12"/0.3 m high and is perennial to zone 3 (-40F/-40C). General growing info Top

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magick:

Healing Rituals
Repelling Ghosts
Protection Spells
Mercury Herb

2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission