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By Witchipedia, Herbs

Tansy: Folklore, Healing & Magickal Attributes

Updated on:


Written by: Dawn Black (Witchipedia)


Reviewed by: Tina Caro

Tansy is (Tanacetum vulgare) a member of the compositae family has diagnostic yellow flowers similar in form to dandelions, but much more compact and lacking rays flowers.

The flowers appear in heads in late summer and early autumn. They smell somewhat like camphor. The foliage is fern-like and the leaves are alternate, deeply lobed, and about 6 inches long.

The whole plant grows to about 2-3 feet tall.

Tansy is a European native that was brought by colonists for its important properties. It has naturalized and now grows wild across much of the US.


This perennial herb, known for its vibrant yellow flowers, can be propagated easily through seeds, cuttings, or root divisions, making it a resilient addition to any garden.

Tansy boasts a wide range of magical attributes, including protection against evil spirits, love divination, and even the power to repel insects when placed under pillows.

Tansy found its place in households as a natural insect repellent, and it was commonly used in the past to flavor food and beverages

Tansy’s healing attributes include its effectiveness against digestive issues, as well as its use in traditional remedies for ailments like rheumatism and fevers.

History and Folklore

The name of this plant may have derived from the Greek word Athanaton meaning immortal. According to legend, it was given to Ganymede to make him immortal.

Protection against EvilTansy is believed to possess protective properties, warding off evil spirits, witches, and malevolent forces.
Repelling InsectsAccording to folklore, Tansy has the ability to repel insects such as flies, mosquitoes, and ants, making it a natural repellent.
Table 1: Folklore and Mythology

Tansy was once used as an embalming herb and to preserve meat. It was also used as a strewing herb because it helps to deter pests.


This is a very invasive plant that will grow in just about any soil in zones 4 through 8. It has its own pest control constituents and isn’t bothered by most insects, but the tansy beetle lives exclusively on this plant.

The plant is usually cut off near the root at the first sign of flowers in August and then hung upside down to dry. Don’t’ feel bad. It’s a perennial and will come back. If you let it go to seed it will take over your garden, and the neighbors’.

Young leaves can be gathered in spring for flavoring egg dishes.

Magical Attributes

Tansy is feminine in nature and ruled by the element of water and the planet Venus. It is also associated with Gemini.

In the Victorian language of flowers it is a declaration of war.

Tansy is sacred to Mary. It is also associated with immortality and eternal youth and is sacred to both Hebe and Ganymede.

Magical AttributeInterpretation
ProtectionTansy is associated with protection against negative energies, psychic attacks, and harmful influences, creating a shield of spiritual defense.
PurificationTansy is believed to possess purifying properties, helping to cleanse spaces, objects, and energies from negativity or malevolent forces.
Strength and CourageTansy is associated with qualities of strength, courage, and resilience, empowering individuals to face challenges and overcome obstacles.
Divination and ProphesyIn some magical practices, Tansy is used for divination and prophetic dreams, enhancing psychic abilities and promoting intuitive insights.
Table 2: Magical Attributes

Its further association with death makes it suitable for honoring all Gods and Goddesses associated with death and rebirth.

Tansy is used in spells, charms and potions for longevity.

Tansy oil has been used to dress the dead, and wreaths of tansy are suitable funeral decorations.

Egg dishes made with tansy are good for Ostara and dairy dishes thus flavored are good for Imbolc.

Household Use

Tansy was once rubbed on meat to prevent flies from landing on it. It can be employed in the same way with garbage cans.

They will also repel ants when planted around the area you wish to protect. Planting tansy next to potatoes will protect them from potato beetles. Tansy oil will also repel mosquitoes.

Healing Attributes

Tansy may be used for expelling worms, one ounce of herb steeped in one pint of hot water drunk as a tea twice a day.

This same remedy is employed for kidney and nervous troubles and low-grade fevers. It is also said to calm the stomach and relieve gas. In large doses, however, it is very irritating to the stomach and digestive systems.

Healing PropertyDescription
Digestive AidTansy has traditionally been used to aid digestion, relieve gastrointestinal issues, and alleviate symptoms like bloating and indigestion.
Menstrual SupportTansy has historical use in supporting menstrual health, alleviating menstrual cramps, regulating the menstrual cycle, and addressing hormonal imbalances.
Table 3: Healing Properties

Excessive doses have produced seizures and uterine bleeding. Use on a regular basis causes organ degeneration.

An infusion of tansy is a useful wash for scabies, eczema and fungal infections.

Culinary Use

Tansy cake and puddings made from the young leaves were once traditional fare at the end of Lent and was considered very wholesome food to eat after fasting for religious purposes, or the forced fasting of a long winter.

Young leaves of tansy are excellent for flavoring egg dishes for Ostara and diary dishes for Imbolc.

Additional Notes

Tansy is related to ragweed. If you have hay fever, use caution with tansy.

Tansy is not safe to use during pregnancy.

Tansy should not be used for extended periods of time.

Do not confuse tansy with tansy ragwort which has ray flowers and does not have sharp-toothed leaves. Tansy ragwort is toxic, not mildly toxic like tansy, but really toxic.

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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