Calendula (Calendula officinalis), also known as pot marigold, poet’s marigold, or English marigold, is unmistakable. These bright yellow-orange flowers with their unusual fragrance are a mainstay of many gardens.
Not to be confused with new world marigolds of the Tagetes genus, calendula is an old world plant with a long history of magical and medicinal use in European-based witchcraft.
Magical Properties of Calendula
Calendula has a mild, gentle action when included in magical recipes. It’s often used to influence the opinions of others — this is why it’s a common ingredient in recipes to gain admiration or get out of legal trouble.
This flower is also strongly associated with solar magic. Hung in wreaths or garlands over a door, it prevents evil or negative energy from entering. Strewn on the floor, it energetically cleanses a space. When burned, they can be used to consecrate a space or object.
As a solar plant, it’s also used to illuminate the truth. It has been used in visionary work to suss out the perpetrator of a crime.
Sleep with calendula under your pillow to have a lucky dream. It’s said that these dreams can grant you insight into winning games of chance. Placed in dream pillows, it also keeps evil spirits from troubling your sleep and ensures pleasant dreams.
Calendula is ruled by the Sun.
Benefits & Uses of Calendula
Calendula is best known as a skin-soothing ingredient. The ancient Egyptians used it to heal and protect their complexions, and the practice of coloring winter butter (which was paler and lower in vitamin A than summer butter) with calendula petals led to its reputation as a burn healer.
These flowers have antibacterial and antifungal properties. They’re often included in topical herbal creams to soothe everything from diaper rash to athlete’s foot.
A study compared a calendula ointment with conventional treatment for cesarean surgical wounds. Those treated with calendula experienced quicker healing than those who were not. A similar study found that calendula helped heal venous leg ulcers.
Calendula is a beneficial companion plant in the garden, attracting beneficial pollinators.
The petals can be used to color food or dye natural fabrics.
Possible Risks & Side Effects of Calendula
Calendula allergies are relatively common. For most people, these manifest as rashes or breakouts. In some rare cases, these flowers may cause anaphylaxis. If you’re allergic to calendula or any of its relatives, please use a different herb in its place.
This herb should be avoided by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It can stimulate the uterus, which may cause miscarriages. It’s not known if calendula’s active components can be transmitted to a nursing infant.
For most people, calendula is safe when used in the amounts you’d use to flavor or garnish food. If you plan to use it in higher doses, please talk to your doctor first.
Calendula History & Folklore
Calendula is associated with the days dedicated to the dead. They are common decorations and used in Samhain observances. Day of the Dead celebrations also use marigolds, but these are more likely to be of the Tagetes species native to Mexico.
The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians used calendula as a culinary and healing herb. For a time, herbalists regarded it as a kind of panacea.
In Spain, sorcerers wore the flowers as a talisman.
According to German folklore, it will rain if calendula flowers stay closed after 7 in the morning.
One old legend claimed that, if a young woman touched fresh calendula flowers with her feet, she would be able to understand the language of birds.
Getting Started With Calendula
These cheerful flowers will grow pretty much wherever they can get enough sun. They are very easy to grow from seed, and will happily re-seed every year in mild climates. (Green witches who live in areas with cold winters will want to gather the seeds and save them for the next growing season.)
This plant isn’t too fussy about soil but prefers well-drained soil with lots of organic matter. Avoid letting it get waterlogged, and it will gladly bloom well into autumn in most areas.
For witches looking to get into magical herbal healing, calendula is an excellent place to start. You can create a wonderful skin salve by combining two ounces of dried comfrey, one ounce of dried calendula petals, two cups of olive oil, an ounce of beeswax, and four drops each of lavender, frankincense, and tea tree oils.
Begin by infusing the herbs in the oil. You can do this by packing the dried herbs into a clean jar, covering them with the oil, and letting them infuse for two weeks, shaking daily.
You can also heat the oil and herbs together on very low heat for several hours, stirring regularly. As you shake or stir the mixture, visualize it filling with healing light. Ask the herbs for their healing help, and thank them.
When the oil is ready, strain the herbs out with a coffee filter, a fine sieve, or a bit of cheesecloth. Place one and one-quarter cups of the oil in a clean pot or pan, and warm it gently on low heat.
As it warms, add the beeswax. (If the beeswax is a block, and not pastilles, you may wish to chop or grate the wax beforehand for quicker melting.) Stir with a wooden spoon held in your dominant hand. Picture the oil and beeswax glowing with healing energy as you mix them.
Stop stirring once the beeswax and oil are combined, and remove the salve from heat immediately. Mix in the essential oils, and immediately pour the finished salve into clean, wide-mouth jars with lids. You can use this salve to soothe minor skin complaints, scrapes, bug bites, dryness, or conditions like eczema.
Calendula’s beautiful orange blooms have served as food, medicine, and magical ingredients for ages. Whether you choose to grow them yourself or purchase the dried petals, you’ll be investing in a powerful ally. Welcome this sunny flower into your herbal practice, and discover the power of its solar energy.