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Sunflowers by Sue Perryman

Helianthus annus Other names: Marigold of Peru Planetary Ruler: Sun Gender: Male Astrological sign: Leo Associated Deities: All Solar deities including Ra, Apollo, Helios & Sol

Magical Properties: Confidence, Courage, Wishes, Fertility, Truth, Integrity, luck, health, protection, loyalty and happiness

The Sunflower is native to North and Central America but is cultivated throughout the world. It can grow incredibly tall and the flower is usually single with a large brown flat disc of seeds surrounded by bright yellow petals. The seeds can be planted directly into the ground after the last frost in a spot where they can receive full Sun. They bloom in late Summer.

The nutritious seeds are ripe when the flower head droops and can be eaten raw or added to baked goods, muesli, granola, salads or added to your favourite smoothie recipe. They are one of the main sources of polyunsaturated oil and are rich in vitamins E, B1, B3 &B6 and many important minerals. They are also much loved by birds and squirrels.

The generic name is derived from the Greek 'Helios' meaning 'Sun' and 'anthos' meaning flower; the specific name 'annus' means annual and refers to the fact that it grows, blooms and dies in one year. The flower heads follow the path of the Sun across the sky.

Native Americans are believed to have grown Sunflowers for 3,000 years and used them to make fibres for textiles, fodder, food, dye and oil.

The Aztecs worshipped the Sun and used Sunflowers in their temples as symbols of the Sun. Their priestesses carried them during ceremonies and wore jewellery made into Sunflower shapes.

The Incas believed that Sunflowers had magical properties because of their perfect geometrical shape. Their God King Atahualpa had a solid god sunflower as his symbol.

Sunflowers were first imported into Europe in the 16th century by Spanish explorers.

Sunflowers absorb huge amounts of water and have been used in the Netherlands for land reclamation schemes in marshy areas.

In the past the seeds were used to make necklaces to ward against smallpox.

The Romans used the unopened buds as a vegetable and the freshly picked petals and leaves have been used to make a febrifuge tea in place of Quinine.

The oil, flowers, incense or tea can be used in rituals to honour the Sun gods, or in magical workings for fertility, health, and wisdom.

Add the petals to a bath bag or homemade bath salts to bring happiness and improve your self-image.

Plant Sunflowers in your garden to bring good luck and protection.

Eat the seeds to boost your fertility and to aid conception.

Add the petals or seeds to magical pouches or bags for confidence and courage. The oil can be used to consecrate healing stones and crystals.

Cut a Sunflower at sunset while making a wish, it will come true before the following sunset as long as it isn’t too grand.

Sleeping with a Sunflower under your bed allows you to know the truth about any matter; I assume they mean the petals or seeds as I can't see anyone doing this with the whole plant!

The petals can be used to make a rich yellow dye, and the fibrous stems can be used to make home-made paper.

Sunflower Tea

1 handful of Sunflower seeds 1 pint water honey to taste Boil the seeds in the water for 20 minutes, strain and sweeten with honey if desired.

Sources: A Kitchen Witches world of Magical Plants and Herbs - Rachel Patterson A Kitchen Witches World of Magical Food -- Rachel Patterson Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender

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