I appreciated the healing nature and golden magic of calendula, commonly called marigold, long before I began working with it in my massage and aromatherapy practices: calendula oil was the first thing a wise woman gave me to soothe my cramps when they paralyzed me as a teen. Today, I love calendula not only for its healing properties, but also for its rich and empowering magical associations. I use it regularly in my practice to support skin healing and to add bright energy to magical blends.
It’s important to note that there are many different types of calendula. For purposes of this post and in discussion of healing and magical properties, we’re talking about Calendula officinalis, most commonly called pot marigold, which is technically a member of the Aster family. It owes its name to the fact that the flowers have an unusually long blooming season, often May to November. According to lore, the Romans noticed that Calendula was always in bloom on the first of the month, known to them as calends, hence it’s name is linked to the Latin root for calendar.
Though it may prove perennial in ideal climates, Calendula officinalis is typically considered an annual as it is touchy about its overwintering and sensitive to hot summers. Thought to be native to southern Europe, today they can be found growing wild and in gardens across Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean; they’ve been naturalized to appropriately temperate climates around the globe. Pot marigolds grow to be anywhere from 18 to 24 inches tall with tiny hairs all over the plant and large blooms, typically bright orange to yellow, though other colors can be found. The colorful petals are edible and have sometimes been used as a color (though not flavor) substitute for saffron or to procure rich, bright yellow dye. In Europe, pot marigold flower petals were traditionally dried and included in soups to restore the constitution during cold winter months. It’s said such a soup would comfort the heart and soothe the soul.
Today, most people are familiar with calendula for the ways it supports wellness. Calendula oil is considered to be particularly skin nourishing and healing and thus appears in remedies for everything from burns and wounds to sores and rashes. Calendula oil is made from the freshly dried flowers and yields a brightly colored orange oil. Many have found it to be particularly effective in supporting radiation dermatitis. It is thought to be wound healing, anti-inflammatory, and supportive of improved blood flow (as when used to strengthen varicose veins).
Thanks to the sunny shape and color of its blossom, Calendula is connected with Fire energy, Sun energy, and the Solar Plexus or Third Chakra. One look at the flower in full bloom can’t help but suggest a fiery sun! One herbalist calls Calendula herbal sunshine for its ability to impart sunny energy. Perhaps because Calendula blossoms open in the morning and close at night, it is also known as the “Bride of the Sun” or the Sun’s spouse; it stays open with the sun all day before closing each night. The flowers are considered to be protective and to facilitate psychic awareness and intuition. Calendula flowers strung in garlands above a door adds to the physical and psychic protection of a home and its occupants. Petals scattered under the bed promote psychic dreams; one can also sniff the blossoms before retiring to bed. (Sniffing the flowers in general is said to have a tonic, soothing, and calming effect.) Calendula tea was said to be an extraordinary tonic for a woman recovering after childbirth (though you’ll want to avoid Calendula in pregnancy as it is said to be a contraction inducer and abortifacient–worth thinking twice if the consumer is breastfeeding, too!)
Because of Calendula’s sunny associations and its link to the Solar Plexus (and Sacral) chakras, I found Calendula oil to be the perfect base carrier for the Summer Solstice Salves we made for guests in conjunction with our Midsummer’s Eve party. This salve was designed to be a gift that would:
- encourage self-esteem
- draw down abundance
- strengthen will and resolve
- increase personal power, and
- infuse light and joy
With Calendula oil as our primary carrier, we made a hard salve of organic Calendula-infused oil, organic St, John’s Wort-infused oil, and organic Sunflower Oil mixed with natural beeswax in a ratio of just over 2 parts oils to 1 part beeswax. That means we used twice as much of the combined oils as we did the beeswax. (Said differently, using two ounces of Calendula oil and one ounce each of St. John’s Wort and Sunflower, we had four ounces total of the oils, meaning we used four ounces of oil and two ounces of beeswax for our hard salve.) After the oils and wax were safely melted together, we removed them from the heat and added essential oils of Frankincense, Petitgrain, Rosemary, Juniper, Lavender, Cinnamon Bark, and Peppermint to incorporate still more of the energetic associations we desired for our purposes. We poured the resulting salve into one-ounce tins to cool before the party and labeled them before adding them to gift bags. The result was a rich, complex aroma that worked equally well for men as women, developed uniquely as it warmed on different people, and supported the overall sunny vibration we wanted people to take home.
Should you decide to create your own salve with Calendula, you can always choose other carriers and essential oils that speak more meaningfully to you. If you want to keep things simple, you can always begin with a belly rub of Calendula oil and your favorite essential oils to anoint your navel, calm your belly, and nourish your skin.
Bless and blessed be!