When I started researching October's post, I didn't expect to find that the Calendula was the birth flower for this month. To me they are more of a summer flower. The Latin translation of the name Calendula refers to the 1st of the month or throughout the months. Apparently they tend to bloom on the first of any given month and bloom for many months. I have never noticed this in my garden, but the next time I plant them, I will be taking note about what day the blooms appear. The name also means "Winning Grace".
Calendulas are of the Marigold family. This name came from early christians as they used this plant medicinally and called it "Mary's Gold" and decorated statues of the Mother Mary with them. They were also used in ancient India, strung together, to decorate statues of deities.
The Calendula's oil is still used today as a healing salve, but the medicinal uses over time treated everything from indigestion to hemorrhoids. It is said to have great anti-inflamitory properties. The petals were used to promote healing of wounds and rashes, too. They were used in the Civil War to help heal the wounds of the soldiers.
The petals are edible and ancient Romans used them mixed with vinegar to season their foods. They range in color from bright yellow to bright orange. These were used to color cheeses and also what gave early butter its color.
The Calendula is traditionally known for it herbal properties. In 2008, the International Herb Association proclaimed the Calendula the flower of the year.
I planted some Marigold seeds last year in various porch pots around my front entrance. This year I had volunteers that came up between the bricks in my front walkway. They were enough to the side so I just left them there. They bloomed all summer and just this month began to die back. They gave me a little joy every time I came home.
Because it is such a beautiful and beneficial flower, I found it interesting that the meaning of the flower is sorrow or sympathy. Apparently, those born in October are said to have many woes. Which leads me to the October birthstone. The following is an excerpt of a poem originally published by Tiffany & Co. in 1870.
October's child is born for woe,
And life's vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.
Opals are said to have every color of the rainbow in them. The Latin translation for Opal is "seeing stone". They are really beautiful with their fiery reflection of every color of the rainbow. There are a wide variety of types of Opals and they are one of the most valued of gemstones.
My mother always told me that the only people who should wear Opals are those who have them as their birth stones. She said it was bad luck. I don't know where she got this old wives tale, but I do know someone who just loves opals who used to wear them from time to time who had the worst luck of anyone I have known. She was sickly, with major health problems and always having problems with her job, or not being able to find a job. One day some robbers broke into her house and stole her opals. The interesting thing is that her luck has changed. She has gone from someone who was always sick and couldn't find work to someone who is relatively healthy and loves her job and whose life has been constantly changing for the better. Was it the stones that caused her ill fortune, or was it just that the law of averages started to turn in her favor? We will never know.
The trees for October are Rowan, Maple and Walnut. In the interest of keeping this post from going on too long, I'll tell what I've found about the Rowan tree, since it has mystical properties. The Rowan tree is known for its Celtic history. It is the tree that was used for divining rods and is thought to protect one against enchantment. When carried it was said to increase one's psychic powers. It has red berries in the winter. These berries have a tiny pentagram on them and this is what lead to the Rowan trees being called "Witch" trees. This brings me to October's holiday, Halloween. Up until now I haven't mentioned Halloween. I have always wondered what made witches so popular at Halloween. Maybe this is it.
Halloween is the celebration of the eave of all souls day on November 1st. The theory is that when everything begins to die, the spirits of those already gone on who have not made it to heaven, or are in Limbo, have a portal to reach into the world of the living. People prayed to sooth the souls gone on and to prevent hauntings. In Medieval times, the poor would go door to door offering prayers for the dead in honor of All Souls Day, carrying carved out turnips as lanterns (where we get our Jack-O-Lanterns). People would give them cakes and money in return. Thus our Trick or Treat. It's all sort of macabre, really.
Imagine a group of people coming down an ancient path through the deep, dark woods at night, carrying lanterns that looked like evil disembodied heads. moaning prayers for the dead on a windy fall night with rustling, swishing dried leaves, a full moon....wolves howling in the night.... bats flying about...I would pay these people money or food to go away. Wouldn't you?
Sun, Oct 9 2011 10:44 AM