This Dusty Earth: Witchcraft in the City

A blog about mental health, magic, and the cycles of nature in parched Los Angeles.

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Sweet Calendula

Two years ago, I bought a couple of calendula plants and tried to grow them in my container garden. They fared all right--I was still learning what conditions calendula likes--and I managed to make a batch of moisturizing balm out of their oil. When they died, though, I figured I wouldn't repeat the experiment. They hadn't seemed to like the hot, dry weather on my roof. I decided that next time I made oil, I would buy calendula blossoms in bulk.

Imagine my surprise when, last winter, a couple of interlopers sprouted in my garden: two new calendula plants, born from the seeds of the first two. In completely different pots, no less! Well, obviously one doesn't reject a healing plant, so I started to tend them. To my delight, they thrived.

I've only been working with the calendula plant for a couple of years, and I learn something new every time I research it. I've been primarily infusing oil with the blossoms to make healing balms, but the medicinal and magical uses are myriad (pro tip: calendula is listed under "marigold" in Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, even though not all marigolds are calendula officinalis). Protection, prophetic dreams, intuition, even justice--the calendula does a little of everything.

According to Cunningham's Encyclopedia, the calendula can "strengthen and comfort the heart" if picked at noon on a hot day. This doesn't surprise me. A few months ago I went though a tough time, and one day I suffered a physical injury. It was just a few shallow scratches, but it was enough to ruin my day. Feeling despondent, I went up to my roof, still bleeding, and asked the spirit of the larger calendula plant for a blossom to add to the batch of oil I was infusing. (I always ask before taking leaves or flowers from a plant, of course.) There was one giant blossom on the top of the plant, which I'd been leaving alone. But the plant, without hesitation, told me to take it. In return, I've faithfully collected as many seeds as I can, to make sure that I can plant a good crop of its children next year.

This experience sums up my experience with the calendula. I really can't think of any plant with a spirit kinder than this one! Calendula plants are worth having in your garden not only for their medicinal and companion planting benefits (they keep pests away from your veggies!), but for their wonderful personalities. If you already have a calendula plant or two hanging around, get to know them! They're worth it.

I'd love to end this post with one of the recipes I use for oils and balms, but rather than violate copyright, I'll point you towards the book they come from: Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide. If you want to try it out before you buy a copy (I recommend you buy a copy--the recipes will keep you busy for years), then you can check Worldcat to see if your local library has it. If they don't, show up at their front door with a pitchfork! (Don't really.)

Hail, sweet calendula!

Image credit Wikipedia

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Asa is a sliding-scale tarot reader, intuitive, and witch blending pellar craft with animism and earth-based Judaism. Instagram: @theRedTailWitch


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