Wise women and the plants they love: Darcey Blue, Marigold (Tagetes)

As part of our Wise women and the plants they love series, Shamanic Herbalist Darcey Blue of Shamana Flora, shares with us historical, medicinal and personal uses of one of her favourite plants – Marigold.

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It turns out that marigolds are a versatile and potent medicine, one a lot of western herbalists have overlooked, and has become one of my favorite plants for dark, stagnant, black depression, moods, and grief associated with the loss of someone/thing in our lives, especially to death.

Sometimes you meet a new plant friend by learning them first from reading a book or blog post, or you hear about it from a friend who uses it, or learn it from a teacher on a walk in the forest or field, and then SOMETIMES, a plant friend will introduce itself to you, while you are wandering around looking for something else in the forest, it will call you to it, it will beckon you to get closer, to take note.

Maybe you won’t know its name or what it does, or maybe it will tell you its name. One of my favorite plant friends was just such a plant. I was wandering around in the dry southwestern sky island mountains of Arizona, looking for some roses, and I found lots of roses, but they weren’t blooming. So I was meandering around, seeing what else I might find, and I stumbled across a sort of non-descript green leafy plant, but it called to me. I had to get down on my knees and get closer. Then, wham, the overpowering sweet, pungent aroma of the leaves overtook me. And then I had to get even closer, sniffing, touching, looking, picking a few sprigs of the plant to bring home and try to ID. I knew it was “something” and it was “medicine,” and I knew it was making me really happy just sniffing it.

I got home and spent some time researching in plant ID books, field guides and websites to finally identify it as a wild marigold, Tagetes Lemonnii. It’s related to our garden marigolds, but is a unique species that grow in the southwest and Northern Mexico. A little more research and asking around traditional mexican healers, and I found out it was used, along with other Tagetes spp, extensively in Mexican and Latin American herbalism. In some places it’s called Rosa Sisa, Pericon, or Huacatay (in Peru.) It’s commonly used on Day of the Dead altars, in food as a spcie and as a spiritual cleansing medicine. There are some variations in the species used, but they have similar properties, with some variation in the fragrance. My favorite is of course my friend, Tagetes Lemonnii, and I grow it, along with other varietes, like T. lucida, and T. minuta in my garden.

It turns out that marigolds are a versatile and potent medicine, one a lot of western herbalists have overlooked, and has become one of my favorite plants for dark, stagnant, black depression, moods, and grief associated with the loss of someone/thing in our lives, especially to death. It moves heavy and dark energy and sadness that is stuck in the body or emotional body, just inhaling the aroma of the leaves and golden yellow blooms can make me feel giddy with joy!  It is also a wonderful aromatic digestive supporting ally as a tea, and is a great vulnerary (to heal wounds) and antimicrobial both for the digestive system and the skin externally.

I sip the tea of the leaves and flowers, harvested in late fall when the plant blooms, before and after meals to support the digestion or relieve minor discomfort, and it’s especially good with peppermint and honey! Or the fresh or dried leaves and flowers can be made into a tea and poured into the bath for an energetic and emotional clearing. Please note: this bath is significantly relaxing and mind opening.  Probably best to rest and relax after, rather than trying to drive or work.

My other favorite way to prepare this medicine is as a strong, medicinal, yet still delicious elixir!  I use fresh leaves and flowers and fill up a quart mason jar to the top. Then pour alcohol (I usually use about 65% alcohol but you can use 40 or 50% vodka or brandy, if 95% grain alcohol is not available to you) three quarters full in the jar. Then top it all off with your favorite local, raw honey. Making sure all the leaves and flowers are submerged, cap the jar and shake it daily for about 4 weeks (one moon cycle). Then strain out the liquid (the honey should have dissolved into the alcohol), compost the herb and reserve the fragrant and sweet elixir in bottles.

It’s perfect for helping to beat the winter blues and blahs, working through long-term or acute grief and heartache due to loss or death, and when you need an emotional energetic clearing or shaking off!   Tagetes of all kinds are easy to plant in your garden if you don’t grow near the southwestern mountains. My suggestions are T. lucida, and T. minuta for the flavor, aroma and medicinal benefits.  The big flowered marigolds can also be used, but tend to be skunky smelling, rather than sweet and pleasant.

Where to find Tagetes

If you want to track down some marigolds for yourself, you can find T. lucida and T. minuta seeds, extract and even essential oil at Amazon.

A big thank you to Darcey for sharing her her marigold wisdom and photos with us today. I have been suffering the blues this week in relation to a pregnancy loss we experienced earlier this year (more on that another day) so her recipes couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ll let you know how I go and please let me know how you go too…

 

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