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By Witchipedia, Herbs

Feverfew: Folklore, Healing & Magickal Attributes

Updated on:

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Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)

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Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Feverfew (Tanacetum partheniumChrysantheim parthenium or Pyrethrum parthenium) is a short-lived perennial native to southeastern Europe which is now widespread across North America, Europe, and Australia. It is a member of the Asteraceae family along with sunflowers and dandelions and has small ray flowers, similar to daisies, which appear in a dense cluster at the top of the stalk in late summer and autumn. It has a compact, bushy habit (once establish) reaching a height of 9 to 24 inches. The leaves are alternate, hairy, yellowish-green and give off a bitter odor when crushed.

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Other Names bachelor’s button, featherfew, featherfoil, ague plant, devil daisy, feather-fully, flirt wort, maid’s weed, midsummer daisy, Missouri snakeroot, nosebleed, prairie-dock, rainfarn, vetter-voo, wild chamomile, Matricaria

KEY TAKEAWAYS

This herb can be propagated easily through seeds or cuttings and is known for its resilience, making it a popular addition to many gardens.

When harvesting feverfew, it’s important to collect the leaves and flowers in the morning when the medicinal compounds are at their peak, and they can be dried and stored for later use.

Feverfew is associated with various magical attributes, including protection from accidents, clarity of thought, and the power to repel negative energies when used in spells and rituals.

Beyond its magical uses, feverfew has practical household applications as well, such as repelling insects and pests, and its dried leaves can be used in potpourri for a pleasant fragrance.

History and Folklore

The ancient Greeks and Egyptians used feverfew for inflammation and menstrual pain as well as general aches and pains.

Dioscorides documented feverfew’s use for inflammation and swellings in the first century of the common era.

Folklore/MythCultural OriginSignificance
The Migraine HerbEuropean folkloreBelieved to have protective properties against migraines
The Medieval Plant of HealingEuropean folkloreAssociated with healing and protection against illness
The Herb of ProtectionVarious culturalThought to ward off evil spirits and provide spiritual defense
Table 1: Folklore and Mythology

In medieval Europe, it was used for just about everything and it has enjoyed long popularity in cottage gardens. During the time of the plagues, it was planted around houses to protect those inside from the disease. (It may have actually prevented plague-carrying vermin from entering)

The name parthenium is from the Greek meaning “girl” and alludes to its traditional use for female complaints.

Propagation

Feverfew can be grown from seed, cuttings or by division. It is not picky about soil as long as it isn’t soggy and prefers full sun, but will also do well in partial shade. Feverfew is also a good container plant but should not be brought inside to overwinter but instead placed in a sheltered area so that it can have a dormant period. It’ll die anyway if you bring it in.

It will reseed if seed heads are left on the plant at the end of the season. Due to the fact that it reseeds like crazy, this plant can be very invasive. Deadhead spent flowers to control its spread and save the seeds to plant them where you want them later.

It is said the bees do not like this plant. I can’t vouch for the truth of this, but you may want to keep it in mind when placing it in your garden.

Harvesting & Storage

Cut fresh leaves as needed or lay flat on a screen to dry and store in an airtight container away from light and heat.

Magical Attributes

Feverfew is masculine in nature and is associated with the planet Venus and the element of water.

Feverfew is often used in mojo bags. Alone or combined with hyssop and rosemary in a bag it is used to prevent general accidents. To prevent accidents while traveling, put it in a bag with comfrey root and a St Christopher medal and put it in your glove box, rearview mirror or carry on bag.

Magickal AttributeSignificanceMagickal Application
ProtectionShields against negativity and harmCarried in an amulet or sachet for personal protection
PurificationClears and cleanses energy or spaceUsed in smudging rituals or placed in bathwater for purification
Divination EnhancerHeightens intuition and psychic abilitiesBurned as incense or included in divination rituals for clarity
Healing EnergiesChannels healing energy and vitalityAdded to healing spells, charm bags, or infused in oils and salves
Warding and BanishingKeeps unwanted energies or entities awaySprinkled around the home or used in protective rituals and spells
Table 2: Feverfew Magickal Attributes

Likewise, using feverfew as a bath tea will help break hexes designed to make you more accident-prone.

Growing this plant outside your home is said to prevent illness from entering.

Binding the flowers to the wrist is said to assist in drawing out pain as well.

Household Use

Feverfew can be used to keep away bees and other insects.

Healing Attributes

Feverfew is good for migraines and other headaches and PMS symptoms. Chewing the leaf at the first sign of a migraine is traditionally effective at stopping it in its tracks. Because the leaf tastes awful and can cause blistering inside the mouth, it is suggested that you add it to a sandwich instead of eating it straight. Drying seems to weaken the medicinal effect of this herb.

Healing PropertyApplicationHealth Benefits
Anti-inflammatoryUsed topically or internallyMay help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain
Migraine reliefConsumed as a herbal remedyTraditionally used for reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines
Digestive aidTaken orally as an herbal supplementAssists with digestive discomfort and supports gastrointestinal health
Fever reducerPrepared as a tea or tinctureHistorically used to reduce fever and relieve associated symptoms
Skin conditions supportApplied topically as a poultice or creamMay aid in soothing skin irritations and promoting skin health
Table 3: Feverfew Healing Properties

Feverfew can be used as an infusion but tinctures are more effective. Fresh is best, however.

Feverfew has blood-thinning qualities and should not be used by anyone who is taking blood thinners or planning surgery.

Pregnant women should not use feverfew.

Culinary

Feverfew doesn’t taste very good and large quantities aren’t very good for you. It can cause sores to form on the inside of your mouth and stomach upset and thins the blood.

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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