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Succisa pratensisSuccisa pratensis
Devil's Bit

According to folklore, the devil got so angry at how helpful this plant was to humans that he took a bite out of its root. Nevertheless, the plant survived, and that is the key to its use in magic: its connection to surviving violent attack. Devil's bit is spiritually healing for those those who have lived through such attack. It drives out all poisons on the spiritual plane and thus is a plant for survivors and for those who weather extreme adversity. This strongly Venus herb protects especially against violent attacks, which would be categorized as Mars. I think of this plant also as dedicated to those who have survived war or have experienced a serious physical diminishment, such as amputation. Devil's bit is protective in Hoodoo magic as well. Pieces of the root are added to incense burned to repel negative magic, put into protective mojo bags along with herbs like rue, and placed around the house or under the stoop for protection from baneful work. Growing some by your steps is a great way of protecting your home from violent magical attack. Some consider this a good candidate for use in exorcism. Top

Oddly enough, there is another much less known folk belief about devil's bit--that it was once used extensively by the devil for baneful magic until the Virgin Mary took away its banefulness. In anger, the devil bit the plant's root off. This makes me wonder if this plant was actually used for magical or spiritual purposes prior to the introduction of Christianity. Top

This plant grows all over Europe, preferring watery places like fens and bogs. It's an excellent hedgrow plant. The leaves and shoots are edible, and the leaves also provide a green dye traditionally used for tartans. Bees, butterflies, and caterpillars love the flowers, which have a light honey scent. Flowers are usually bluish purple but can be white or pink; they appear from midsummer till frost. Although it likes to grow in or around water, like a Moon herb, it is traditionally considered a Venus plant because of its use in treating bruises and wounds caused by illness, and because of its effectiveness against venomous bites, which are thought to be ruled by Mars. Devil's bit is also known as blue tops, pin cushions, blue button, blue heads, bluebonnet, and forebitten more. Top

How to Grow Devil's Bit.
You can try germinating this seed like an annual (some of its seeds can germinate in 3 weeks at room temperature), but you will get dependable results by using cold stratification. Sprinkle seeds over a paper towel that has been wet and wrung out. Fold in quarters and press gently against the seeds to make good contact. Put in a thin plastic bag, leaving the top open (cheap fold-over sandwich bags work well). Either put in the refrigerator for 3 months or put in an unheated shed or garage over the winter. Expose to indirect light in the spring, checking regularly for germination, and then sow. Transplant to full sun or partial shade in moist or wet soil. It gets 1-4ft/25-100cm tall and is hardy down to -20F/-29C (zone 5). This plant partners well with yarrow, harebells, and cowslip. It will slowly colonize areas where other plants don't succeed well on account of damp clay or peat. In the wild, it prefers unused pastures and bogs.  Top

Succisa pratensis
Devil's Bit
20 seeds $3.75

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Venus Herb

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