The soothing magic of Calendula

I have had a beautiful relationship with Calendula for a number of years now.  Throughout the summer I constantly scatter the petals over almost all my food.  She grows freely on my allotment self seeding and moving slowly along and around.  I often recommend infusing the flowerheads and drinking up to 5 cups daily to help with cases of Candida Albicans overgrowth. 

The physical medicine really lies in the green sticky base, not the petals, so be sure the whole flower goes in your teapot.  Removing flowers will encourage the growth of new ones, but never forget to allow some flowers to reach maturity and spread their seed, ensuring her return to your patch next year.  The flowering season for Calendula is almost at a close for this year, so it is a great time to collect any still flowering heads and dry them ready for teas in the winter months. 

I have just harvested a number of blooms to infuse in oil.  They have already been sat in Sunflower oil happily infusing for a week now.  The jar is beautiful, bright and orange with the petals.  But I have already thought how I could have made a stronger, potentially more effective oil.  Next time I will take more of the flower bases and less of the petals, I could have eaten the petals and just used the bases to get a more concentrated mixture.  Equally I think I would use Olive oil rather than Sunflower in the future as Olive oil has naturally antibacterial properties and again would improve the potency of this remedy.  I may actually double infuse the oil if the flowers are still available in two weeks time when the current oil will be done.  To do this I will drain off the current flowers and just add a new batch, but this time concentrating on the medicine rich flower bases.  Once I have left that to infuse for a further 3 weeks I intend to make a healing antibacterial, antifungal salve from the oil.  To make the salve, once all the flower parts have been removed from the oil just heat it really gently gradually adding beeswax.  Be really careful to keep the temperature low, never reaching a simmer.  The recommended amount of beeswax is 2g for 30ml of oil.  Like with my food cooking I never closely follow a recipe, just feeling for it instead.  Of course I have had some disasters in my time choosing to make salve in this way.  Three years ago I made a St John’s Wort salve that was so solid it could not be used, so I waited until the following summer to infuse more St John’s Wort then slowly heated the original salve until it melted, slowly adding the new oil until it had the correct consistency.  To check consistency all you need do is allow some of the warm oil+wax mixture to drop onto a plate and leave for a moment so it has a chance to cool and harden.  The heat from your finger should melt it just enough to dip in and use on the skin as you would with any balm or salve.  A valuable lesson, is to add the wax slowly and check regularly!  But I guess making mistakes is one of the best ways of learning.

As with all plants Calendula is so much more than a physical remedy to me.  Her beautiful bright blooms brighten and gladen the heart, whilst at the same time easing and smoothing the emotions.  Her medicine will be unique for each person as we each have different needs, different questions pouring from our hearts and that is what she will respond to.  Yet the more personal the medicine is somehow the more universal it also becomes.  If you have a chance before the blooms finish in your area I recommend you go and spend time with her, make her aquaintance, become her friend.  And as with visiting all friends, even new ones, don’t forget to take a gift.  It doesn’t matter so much what that gift is, as long as it comes from your heart.  I often just pluck a hair from my head and lay it at the base of the flower as an offering.

Happy harvest!

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