By the end of the herbal year I have run out of ideas for how to use the rest of my abundant harvest of plants. Drying herbs for winter baths make lovely gifts. There will come a day in February when one is low in energy and craving a sensual experience that enlivens your very soul. This specific combination of plant helpers is sure to grant that wish. When it comes to formulating a bath mix I am all about letting instinct and aesthetics guide my hand. There are no measurements or proportions for this recipe. Let the time of day, month, weather, and your garden whisper instructions as to what you need to harvest and how much.
Soothe The Spirit Bath
Lavender flowers and Leaves
Lemon Balm tops and leaves
Strip aerial parts from their stems. Allow small amounts to air dry in baskets placed in a cool, dark and moisture free environment. In the summer I use a bench in my kitchen for this. Large, fleshy leaves like clary sage or resinous flowers like calendula are best dried quickly in a dehydrator. When all ingredients are truly crisp, gently add together and mix. To preserve color and volatile oils package immediately. Store away from light, humidity, and heat.
Here is a link for self care using baths, a longer post on using plants for bathing.
If you want to know about the medicinal properties and uses of Tagetes you might have to consult herbals from other cultures (Mexican) or regions in the American Southwest. Even though pot marigold (calendula) and Tagetes (marigold) have a few things in common, like their names, they are not the same species. One can not be used as a substitute for the other. I tend to only use marigolds externally, as a way to support the spirit. Historically they have been used internally as an infusion for inflammation, fever, edema, migraines, common cold, flu, chills, pneumonia, food poisoning, gas, diarrhea, stomachache, nausea, menstrual problems and colic. It is very common to use Tagetes flowers in baths, incense and ritual sprays where there is fear or trauma. Externally marigold is helpful for rashes and skin infections. No matter how you use it, the flowers clear “wind”, dryness and heat.
Marigolds are native to North and South America. They are in the aster family. The plants can be a 1-2 ft. tall , highly aromatic annual or perennials depending on the climate. Tagetes many leaves are dark green and very pinnate. The flowers are 4-6 cm in diameter and come in shades of yellow and orange, often with darker or maroon highlights. Varieties can have single or multiple rounds of petals. The dried floral heads are well known for their ability to self seed and produce an abundance of plants the next year. This plant grows well in dry climates and poor soils.
A few varieties have tasty edible flowers- Tagetes patula (French marigold), Tagetes tenuifolia (Gem marigolds), Tagetes lucida (Mexican mint marigold) and Tagetes minuta. These can be used as an inexpensive substitute for saffron in condiments, savory dishes and desserts with their subtle flavors of anise, basil, tarragon, or citrus. The blooms can also be used as a yellow dye for textiles and their high carotenoid lutein content is used as a food coloring worldwide. Marigolds are well known in agriculture as an effective repellent for all types of pests. They widely cultivated in numerous countries to be used in rituals, festivals, and celebrations.
Contraindications (internal use): Aster/ragweed allergy. Pregnancy.