Notes from the Apothecary

September, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Calendula

Calendula or marigold? Last month we explored the magic and mystical beauty of the true marigold and I mentioned in that article that marigolds are often confused with calendula. Botanically they are actually very different. Calendula are often called pot marigolds or common marigolds, but true marigolds are in the genus tagetes although both tagetes and calendula are in the Asteraceae family, along with sunflowers. Tagetes are native to North America, whereas calendula came to America from the Mediterranean. They have beautiful orange or yellow blooms, with an extremely long flowering season.

The Kitchen Garden

From Mrs Grieve’s Modern Herbal:

It was well known to the old herbalists as a garden-flower and for use in cookery and medicine. Dodoens-Lyte (A Niewe Herball, 1578) says:

‘It hath pleasant, bright and shining yellow flowers, the which do close at the setting downe of the sunne, and do spread and open againe at the sunne rising.’

She refers to calendula as the common marigold, and notes that it is easy to grow as long as the position is slightly sunny and the ground kept free of weeds. Calendula self-seed, and can spread quite easily although they are annuals so the new foliage replaces last year’s plants, rather than joining them. The seeds are curly little horns, perfectly beautiful and very decorative in their own way.

Calendula petals can be used as a substitute for saffron, but only for the yellow colour they impart, not the taste. The flowers make a tasty and beautiful garnish for salads and other foods, and can be mixed into butters and cheeses for colour and flavour. Even the peppery leaves can be eaten to add spice to a salad.

The Apothecary

Natural Herbal Living Magazine published a great feature on calendula and its many practical uses. The publisher, Amanda Klenner, notes that she uses the petals in skin lotions, body butters and salves. She also makes marigold tea which soothes irritated mucous membranes and internal tissues. She uses the tea for digestive health, and adds that the petals are used in some cold and flu remedies. She also believes it supports the lymphatic system, crucial for our immune systems.

In the same publication, Nina Katz states that the herb is, “Anti-microbial, anti-viral, anti-septic, vulnerary, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulant, immunostimulant, cholagogue, heart tonic, hypotensive, lymphatic, respiratory tonic, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, astringent, aperient, diaphoretic…”

Many of these terms might be unfamiliar to you if you’re not an herbalist or phytologist. Vulnerary means healing of wounds or inflammation. Cholagogue means to stimulate the gall bladder to produce bile. Emmenagogue means to promote menstrual flow. This means it can be useful for period pain or delayed periods, as it stimulates the uterus. Pregnant women should not ingest calendula for this reason. Always check with a medical professional before changing or starting any type of medication.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Many believe that the term marigold comes from an association with the Virgin Mary. However, that supposition is a little backwards. The marigold (calendula) became associated with the Virgin Mary because the name sounded a little like Mary’s Gold, however the term ‘marigold’ was first coined by pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons, when referring to the marsh marigold, a plant related to neither calendula or tagetes (true marigolds). However, calendula has been used to honour Mary for so long that, if your path leans this way, it still makes a fantastic offering or altar decoration. It’s just good to know the origins and history so you can make your own mind up about what’s appropriate.

Cunningham tells us it is a masculine herb, which I presume is because of the plant’s association with the sun, and fire. I find it has a very feminine energy, but plants are complex and it’s often hard to pigeon-hole them. He advises picking calendula at noon in bright sunlight to ‘strengthen and comfort the heart’. He also states that calendula is used for protecting the home from evil, and scattered under the bed can give you prophetic dreams and ensure a safe night’s sleep. Calendula petals in the pocket will keep justice on your side if you need to attend court. His final and my favourite point about calendula magic is that, if a girl touches calendula petals with her bare feet, she will be able to speak to birds in their own language. How wonderful that would be!

Calendula has historically been used in divination, particularly relating to love and knowing who one’s true love may be. Rachel Patterson recommends the flower for spells or incense blends involved with psychic powers. She also writes that they promote happiness and uplifting energies, and can be used to make gossip about you cease.

Home and Hearth

As we move from summer into fall, calendula should still be flowering for some time yet. If you are lucky enough to have calendula in your garden, pick a few of the flower heads and separate the petals out. Create a circle of petals on a clean cloth or on your altar, one petal at a time. Have the base of each petal pointing toward the centre of the circle, so the end of the petal points outwards. As you lay each petal, think of something in your life you are happy about, or grateful for. You don’t need to write this down or prepare for it. It should be spontaneous and from the heart.

The bigger you make your circle, the longer it will take to complete, but you will think about more happy things! If you have been struggling with dark feelings or depression, it may be sensible to start with a small circle. This can prevent you feeling like you ‘should’ have more to be happy about, which can actually make you feel worse. Sometimes, we may only have a few bright sparks in our lives, and that’s okay. We can still celebrate that, and as we move into the darker months, focusing on the good things we have becomes even more vital and soul supportive.

I Never Knew…

A snuff of marigold leaves was sniffed up the nose, to encourage sneezing to rid the sinuses of excess mucous. Lovely!

Image credits: Flower of calendula by Wouter Hagens, public domain; Calendula officinalis, Seeds by H. Zell, copyright 2009 via Wikimedia Commons; Calendula officinalis – Botanischer Garten Mainz by Natalie Schmalz, copyright 2011, via Wikimedia Commons.


About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors


Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways


February, 2018

(en)LIV(en)ING With the Muses-Clio

This is the third posting of the (en)LIV(en)ING with the Muses Series

The Muse, Clio is considered the Muse of History. Her name, sometimes spelled Kleio is a form of the greek verb, “Kleo” which means to make famous, to recall or to celebrate. She makes full use of her birth right as the daughter of Mnemosyne (Goddess of Remembrance) as memory is a key component that every historian must rely upon to accurately give account of events, people and places. Unlike her sisters, who are more directly related to the act of inspiring whatever their specialty is, Clio works at the level of codifying and giving durability to what is the product of those inspirations.  

The versatility of her nature and governance is seen in the epithets for her, which include: Daughter of the Lord of Cloud-capped Heaven, Giver of Sweetness, High-Throned, Queen of Song, Flowering, and Unforgetting. The Greek lyric poet, Pindar says of Clio and her influence on the bringing to renown those who would be so honored:

“Of song grant, of my skill, full measure. Strike, O daughter of the lord of cloud-capped heaven, chords to his honour; mine to wed them with the youthful voices and with the lyre . . . In your honour then, if high-throned Kleio (Clio) wills, for your proud spirit of conquest.” 1.

Clio is often depicted holding many scrolls or a single open scroll, and in more recent times with books sitting at her feet. Hers is not only the gift of recording those events which are to be celebrated and added as markers of history but also that of the retelling of those events, so they may be the source of inspiring those who would through their actions be the future creators of history yet unwritten. The Greek historian, Diodorus speaks of Kleio (Clio) in this way:

To each of the Mousai (Muses) men assign her special aptitude for one of the branches of the liberal arts, such as poetry, song, pantomimic dancing, the round dance with music, the study of the stars, and the other liberal arts . . . For the name of each Mousa, they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her . . . Kleio (Clio) is so named because the praise which poets sing in their encomia bestows great glory (kleos) upon those who are praised.” 2.

Another of her names was that of “the Proclaimer”. This nomenclature was exemplified in the story recounting that Clio openly declared her disapproval of the Goddess Aphrodite’s pursuit of Adonis; whom Clio had been having affairs with secretly. In retaliation, Aphrodite crafted a curse that made Clio fall in love with the King of Macedonia, Pierus and forget her infatuation with Adonis. A son was supposedly born of that union named Hyacinthus who was renown for his grace and beauty. His lover the God Apollo killed Hyacinthus, and, it is said that where his blood lay, flowers arose of great beauty as tribute to his love and purity.  These are the perennials, Hyacinths noted for their sweet and intoxicating fragrance and of notable fame in the quote by Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier’s:

If thou of fortune be bereft, and in thy store there be but left two loaves, sell one, and with the dole, buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.” 3.

Clio had a second son, Hymenaios who was the God of marriage, epic feasts and songs. The officiating nature of his Mother, Clio is seen in the magnitude of the types of events her son presided over. His was the governance of those times that would become part of the history of those for whom these auspicious events occurred. 

Time and again, through art and literature, politics and education, Clio’s hand has been the underlying energy that gives timeless meaning and importance to whatever it is applied to. The 17th Century Dutch Painter, Johannes Vermeer, makes reference to Clio in his painting The Art of Painting. In this painting she depicted wearing standard garb of the time, a laurel wreath adorning her head, and carrying a trumpet. The wreath and trumpet both symbols of triumph and the jubilant announcement of that status. 

Detail of The art of Painting

The artist observes his model, who is dressed as Clio, the muse of history. As he records her image carefully on his canvas, he is not so much the recipient of the muse’s inspiration as the agent through whom she takes on life and significance. Clio wears a crown of laurel on her head to denote honor, glory, and eternal life. In one hand she holds a trumpet, which stands for fame, and in the other she clasps a thick folio, perhaps a volume of Thucydides, which symbolizes history. These were the attributes ascribed to her by Cesare Ripa in his Iconologia, a sixteenth-century book of emblems and personifications that was widely used by artists.” 2.

The art of Painting

Another depiction of Clio is found in a mosaic of the poet Virgil, who is seen in process of writing his epic poem, The Aenid in the presence of two of the Muses. In this scene “ the Roman poet Virgil, seated with a sheet of scrolls in his hand, is attended by two Mousai, Kleio the Muse of history with a scroll, and Melpomene the Muse of tragedy with a tragic mask.”  


And, finally, a more modern testament to the lasting influence of the Muse of History and the need for the recording of its facts is the representation of Clio found in the National Statuary Hall of the capital building in Washington, DC. Gracing the doorway into this illustrious hall that served as meeting place for the decisive and historical actions of the House of Representatives from 1807 to 1857 is the Car of History designed by sculptor Carlo Franzoni in 1819. Clio stands within a winged chariot that serves as the vehicle and personification that represents the passing of history through the ages. In place of the ancient scroll, she holds her book of remembrance and records the events of history as they unfold. The chariot has a singular wheel that is a clock representing the passage of time in the hours and minutes of the days. The Chariot sits atop a marble globe which has the signs of the Zodiac on it completing the reference to the eternal and cyclical nature of time, events and the never ending history that is created by its turning.

The Car of History

Remembering Your Own History:

When I consider the gifts of Clio I am reminded of my own personal history; in particular what I have learned from my Mother. My history is rich in strong women who shouldered responsibility, accepting all that came their way and making at times difficult choices to insure that there was a roof overhead, food on the table and a better life for their children than what they had endured. I am reminded of the history that I have helped to create for my own family and children and the opportunity to call upon Clio’s energy of celebration and lessons earned from past experience to write a new script if needed that is more positively filled. 

In my spiritual work, I call upon Clio to remind me of the history of my spiritual path and those who paved the way, the sacrifices made and the eternal wisdom that has become the foundation of my teachings and learning. I call upon Clio to help me keep my intentions in order so that those who follow in my footsteps may benefit from the history I will someday leave. 

In my mundane life, I call upon Clio to remind me that each action I take and each person with whom I interact has a piece of his or her own history to share. This is often not something that is overtly elicited but if I remain poised with metaphorical pen and book of remembrance in hand, the synthesis of our time together will write a new history that each of us will collectively call our own. 


The next post will focus on the Muse, Erato and her gifts of Lyrical poetry


1. Pindar, Nemean Ode 3. 10 & 82 ff (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.).

2. From: Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 7. 1 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.).

3. Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., ed., Johannes Vermeer [Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Mauritshuis, The Hague] (Washington, 1995).

4. John Greenleaf Whittier. Quaker Poet  1807-1892.



Statuary of Clio: The Vatican Museum.Rome

Detail and Full Painting: The art of Painting by Johannes Vermeer 

The Art of Painting, c. 1666, oil on canvas. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Image: VIRGIL & THE MOUSAI, Mosiac

Bardo Museum, Tunis, Tunisia 

Image: The Car of History

Carlo Franzoni. 1819. National Statuary Hall



About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author. She is the author of:


The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars



The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres



The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths



A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord


Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions


The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings


The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF

Click Image for Amazon Information.

The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World


Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion


A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year


Her books are available on Amazon or website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 


Follow Robin on Facebook and on Instagram