Chrysanthemum Folklore & Magic

Chrysanthemums are associated with protection, particularly of the metaphysical kind. Image by Jan Tyler/E+/Getty Images

When autumn rolls in, most of the flowers in our gardens are dying off, but the chrysanthemum is just beginning to bloom. Found in an array of colors from whites and purples to bright yellows and reds to rustic oranges and browns, the chrysanthemum is a popular fall flower, and has a rich history of folklore and myth behind it. Although they’re primarily ornamental – and don’t have much a very flowery smell at all – they’ve been used in medicine and magic for a long time.

In some areas, the term marigold is used interchangeably with chrysanthemum, but the marigold and chrysanthemum are actually both part of the daisy family. They do look an awful lot alike – the corn marigold, which is chrysanthemum segetum, strongly resembles what we think of as chrysanthemums.

The Chinese cultivated chrysanthemum around three thousands years ago – herbalists brewed the blossoms into a tea that was rejuvenating, and said to restore youth to those who were aging. The chrysanthemum seems to be an all-purpose medicinal plant, being offered as a cure for everything from dizziness and poor vision to hypertension and the common cold.

From a magical standpoint, these fall beauties are associated with the sun itself, and are thus often associated with fire. In some traditions, they’re a centerpiece for funeral decorations or grave memorials, most likely because they’re blooming around Samhain.

Not only that, you can dry the heads and use them in loose-leaf incense blends.

Often associated with protection, particularly of the metaphysical sort, chrysanthemums come in handy when working with the spirit world. Author Ellen Dugan says, “In ancient times Greeks would wear garlands of chrysanthemums to keep away those dreaded “evil spirits.” For the modern Garden Witch, the mum is a fabulous, protective fall flower that wards the home and keeps away wandering ghosts.”

Keep in mind that because mums come in a variety of shades and colors, you can utilize different colors of the flower for a wide range of purposes. If you’re using color magic around your home, try white for purification and healing, the red or purple varieties for passion and power, pink for romance, or yellow and orange for the fiery energy of the sun.

Chrysanthemums can also be woven into a wreath or hoop for protection – hang it on your door or window, place it on the altar, or even let it dangle from your rearview mirror. If you’re feeling really fancy, make yourself a floral crown from chrysanthemums and brightly colored ribbons, and wear it to your favorite Pagan event!