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PepperwortLepidium sativum

Because of its heat, this herb might seem to be ruled by Mars, but it is considered Saturnian because of its love for borders - it prefers to grow along creeks, roads, and the edges of fields. Agrippa wrote that pepperwort was the quintessential Saturn incense and also connected it to Taurus. He included it in his zodiacal incense - myrrh (Aries), pepperwort (Taurus), mastic (Gemini), camphor (Cancer), frankincense (Leo), sandalwood (Virgo), galbanum (Libra), opoponax (Scorpio), aloeswood (Sagittarius), benzoin (Capricorn), euphorbium (Aquarius), and storax (Pisces) - as well as in his planetary incense (some unusual atributions here): Saturn/pepperwort, Jupiter/nutmeg, Mars/lignum aloes, Sun/mastic, Venus/saffron, Mercury/cinnamnon, and Moon/myrtle. Top

Other grimoires also mention this magick herb. One gives the following incense recipe for calling spirits: ambergris, aloeswood, pepperwort, musk, saffron, and storax mixed with the blood of a bat or of a lapwing [a type of plover]. A bat's wing is a holly leaf, so consider using either the sap from a holly tree for blood of a lapwing, or as in any recipe calling for blood, some of your own, which is always easily obtainable with just a pin and will add much greater potency to a work than any animal blood ever could. Pepperwort's Saturn assocation causes some to link it to Hekate. John Dee assigned pepperwort to Friday. Nowadays, pepperwort is used in sex magick, and in Judaism finds ritual use as one of the bitter herbs on the Seder plate. Top

Mundane Uses
Pepperwort originated in Ethiopia and Iran and was familiar to ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman cooks as an ingredient in spicy salads. Spartans ate the young leaves with bread. Ancient Ethiopian warriors made a paste of the ripe, dried seeds and rubbed it on their skin to keep warm during cold nights and for sunburn. This herb was mentioned positively by the Prophet, and the Moors (Arabs who occupied Spain) prescribed pepperwort for protection against scurvy, to purify the blood and the humors, and as a stimulant. Moorish physicians also recommended burning pepperwort to repel insects and applied it to insect bites. They considered it to be an aphrodisiac, and the seeds are still used as such in Iran and Morocco. It continued to be an important crop in Spain, often grow as a companion to flax, until the 19th century. Modern-day studies show that pepperwort protects against colon cancer and lowers hypertension by its diuretic effect, and it has lowered blood sugar. This herb has a spicy, peppery taste, but its heat lasts only a few seconds. Succulent young leaves are delicious mixed with cream cheese and spread on sammiches, or chop and sprinkle them on scrambled eggs or soup. Pepperwort makes a nice soup itself with stock, onions, and some yogurt or cream.  The pepperiness does not survive drying very well (except in the seeds and in the dried root), but it is easy to grow. This plant is also known as pepperweed, peppergrass, garden cress, curly cress, creasy greens, upland cress, and poor man's pepper. Top

How to Grow Pepperwort
Growing inside: Barely cover to germinate at room temperature in a week in indirect light, then move to a sunny windowsill and start harvesting one week after germination. You can keep harvesting for 2-3 weeks. Sow every three weeks for a constant supply.
Growing outside: The best time to start this herb outside is April-July. For harvesting young, plant seeds 1/4-1/2" apart and 1/4 deep, and if in rows, space the rows 4" apart. If you want to let the plants get bigger, space the seeds 2" apart and the rows 9" apart (this plant can get 2 ft tall). This annual plant grows best in semi-shade in moist soil; otherwise, it will bolt (quickly set seed and die).  It especially likes to grow in disturbed areas and around water. The older leaves are too tough to eat but are great for magickal uses. The flowers are white or pinkish, and the leaves have a lot of variability in their shape. This plant self-sows easily. Be careful when siting, because pepperwort can concentrate poisons from the soil, like arsenic, so don't plant in soil where such contamination might have occured, such as in old orchards or vineyards. General growing info  Top


Lepidium sativum
250 seeds $3.50

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Ritual Magic
Sex Magick
Saturn Herb

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Alchemy Works products are offered for use in spiritual, ritual, meditative, and magical practices, not for medicinal or cosmetic purposes. The information on this website is provided for its folkloric, historic, and magical value. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.