By Witchipedia, Herbs

Cyclamen: Folklore, Healing & Magickal Uses

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Cyclamen is a low-growing perennial native to the Mediterranean region and Northeast Africa where they grow as an understory plant in dry forested areas. The leaves are green, heart-shaped and variegated and generally appear in late winter, dying back in the hottest part of the summer.

Flowers appear in autumn on 4-6 inch stalks above the leaves. The flowers are fairy-like consisting of five united petals in white, pink, red or purple with pink being the most common. They are followed by a five-chambered fruit containing sticky seeds that are very attractive to ants, as they are designed to be dispersed by them. The root is a black tuber, somewhat like a turnip.

Cyclamen spp

Other Names Sowbread

History and Folklore

Dioscorides prescribed Cyclamen for just about everything from snakebite and other poisons to cataracts to boils. It was said also that a woman who walked over cyclamen while pregnant would abort and those who ate cakes made of it would fall violently in love. Added to wine, it ensured the drinker would be thoroughly drunk.

The name sowbread comes from its reported popularity as a food source among wild pigs in its native region.

Region/CultureFolkloreSignificance
GreeceSymbol of love, fertility, and motherhoodGift for expectant mothers, wedding decorations
PersiaFlower of deep affection and sincerityExchanged as a symbol of affection
Victorian EraRepresented goodbye or separationGiven as a farewell gift or farewell decorations
Table 1: Cyclamen Folklore

The name Cyclamen comes from the Greek kyklaminos, meaning circle. It may reference the spiraling habit of the seed stem or the round corms.

In the language of flowers, Cyclamen is a gracious way to say goodbye.

Propagation

Most cyclamens cannot tolerate frost, although some hardy species are available in nurseries. In the North, they are best grown in pots so they can be brought indoors and protected from heat and frost. Allowing the plant to become too warm will cause it to go dormant. Don’t throw it away, but be patient and it will return when the temperatures cool down a bit. 65 degrees is the ideal temperature for them.

Plant the corm just below the surface in a rich sandy soil. Water when the soil becomes dry (less often when dormant) and fertilize once a month with a mild fertilizer. It should bloom all winter long for you if you don’t keep your house too warm.

Harvest the tuber in its second or third year in the summer after the plant has gone dormant.

Slice thin and roast slowly until thoroughly dry and then pound into a powder. Store in a sealed container.

Magical Attributes

Cyclamen is sacred to Hecate.

It is feminine in nature and associated with the element of water and the planet Mars. It is both passive and active.

Cyclamen may be incorporated into any spell designed to increase joy and happiness in a situation, to increase affection in a relationship and your good old-fashioned love spell. Likewise, it can be used to the opposite effect, to send away an unwanted person gently.

Cyclamen hederaefolium” is the species most associated with the love spell. Small cakes made of the roasted tuber are said to cause the one who eats them to fall violently in love with the one who bakes them or become violently ill, whatever. (Please see cautions)

Use/IntentionCorrespondencesRecommended Practices
Love and AttractionVenus, water element, pink or red flowersUse in love spells or place flowers on love altars
Spiritual HealingMoon, meditation, white or purple flowersBurn dried flowers during meditation for spiritual healing
ProtectionSaturn, banishing, dark-colored flowersCreate a protective charm or sprinkle petals around space
Table 2: Magickal Uses of Cyclamen

It may also be an appropriate decoration for handfastings. It is certainly a suitable houseplant for adorning the bedroom as it increases libido and fertility. It will also keep away nightmares and prevent negative spells cast at household members from taking effect.

The oil or the flower itself may be worn to protect one against a broken heart. It is also useful for candle-magic love spells.

Its best use, either the oil, the plant itself, or the powdered, roasted root, is in spells designed to build confidence, self-esteem and self love.

Household Use

For European gardeners- The plant is used as food by the larvae of the gothic moth (Naenia typica) in Europe and may be a useful addition to butterfly gardens enjoyed at night as well as during the day there.

Healing Attributes

Cyclamen is used in homeopathic medicine to bring on late menstruation and as a treatment for vertigo and dizziness and various other irritations of the head.

Healing PropertyApplicationAdditional Notes
Respiratory SupportInfusions or steam inhalation for respiratory issuesConsult a herbalist or healthcare professional
Skin SoothingTopical use for skin irritations or rashesPerform a patch test before full application
Emotional UpliftmentAromatherapy or flower essence for mood enhancementUse under the guidance of an aromatherapist
Table 3: Cyclamen Healing Properties

It has also been used to expel worms. 8-10 grains of the dried powdered root are used.

This is an extreme plant. There are safer alternatives.

It is a very powerful purgative.

Culinary Use

Eating the raw root can cause violent purging, but this effect disappears after it is roasted. It can then be pounded into a sort of flour for use in cooking and baking. I have found no recipes for this! I do not recommend trying this as I can find no good instructions for how to do it safely and properly. Please let us know if you have more information.

Cautions

This plant is poisonous to cats and fish.

Cyclamen is a very powerful, violent purgative! Use with caution and in very small quantities. Pregnant women should never use this plant, internally or externally, for any purpose!

However, it is a very lovely ground-cover for those shady spots in your garden.

About Morningbird (Witchipedia's Founder)

I am a homesteading hearth witch who grew up along the shores of the Hudson River and has lived among the Great Lakes for the past 20 years. Together with my musical husband and youngest child, I steward a one-acre mini homestead with herb, vegetable and flower gardens, chickens, ducks, geese and rabbits, and areas reserved for native plants and wildlife. 

I have three children; two are grown, and I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years.

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