The Numinous Common of the Dandelion

Juleigh Howard-Hobson

Embodying, as it does, the traditional aspects of Maiden, Mother, Crone in its bud stage, flower stage and seedball stage, the nature of the dandelion is in keeping with the nature of so much of the numinous European heritage. It is a plant magical and mundane: at once commonplace and arcane, disdained and respected, and as important above the ground as it is below.

The yellow dandelion was a revered plant to the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Celts, sacred to Hecate and Brigid, the goddesses of homes, families, and prosperity. Full bloomed dandelions were carried along with other bridal flowers to ensure happy strong marriages and big families. To this day, it’s said that the more dandelions that surround your home the more your spouse is bound to you, and that blowing on dandelion seed heads can reveal how many children you will have (the seeds that remain stuck on the stalk represent them). As well, folk lore contends that picking the petals of the dandelion will answer the questions of ‘Love me? Love me not?’ more accurately than the less reliable daisy. Furthermore, dandelion seeds are able to send love when intentionally blown toward the focus of your affection.

In an interesting side note, dandelions are known to attract the ladybug, that garden helper also known as Freya’s Hens. Freya is, of course, the Norse Goddess of love. How fitting that her hens are associated with these holy blooms of ancient brides.

Almost everyone knows that the name dandelion is from the French, dente de lion because the leaves resemble teeth of lions, but few are aware of the older folk names this plant has carried. Known early on as Golden Sun (which changed to Priests Crown, acknowledging the Christianization of the folk-soul) for its golden colored petals, its magical properties were noted in names such as Fortune Teller, Fairy Clock, Wish-weed, and Livelong. That it was later called all sort of nasty names such as Devil’s Milk Pail, Piss-a-bed or even Shit-a-bed (the former referring to the white sap that runs from the cut plant, the latter to dandelion’s famous diuretic qualities) attests to the quelling of  folkways in favor of sophisticated medicine and organized religion.

Still, medicine and religion—no matter how sophisticated or organized—are no match for inherent folkways. The dandelion was once known as ‘Conquer all’ plant, and it hasn’t forgotten this.

On the mundane level, garden lore still holds that planting dandelions in the Northwest corner of your land will ensure good luck. And while not called Witch-Clocks anymore by anyone, every good naturalist will tell you that dandelions can tell time by opening and closing around 5 AM and 8 PM every day, and forecast weather: their flowers are closed when rain is due.

In the areas of the occult and arcane magic, dandelions are useful for divination and psychic work. Every part of this plant is equally magical–the leaves reach toward the living world, the flowers and seeds to the aether, and the roots to the underworld. Everyone knows that to make a wish come true, one should blow the seeds from a dandelion head, out to the aether, with one breath.  But less are aware that to attract departed souls in order to make dream contact, a tea made of dandelion root can be placed by the bed at night time. Dandelion roots are so strong that often hoodoo workers substitute mandrake roots for dandelion roots with no lessening of magical effects.  Food, teas or extracts of dandelion’s strong green leaves attract the strongest good fortunes, particularly in the form of material prosperity—what’s more, modern science bears this out, telling us that dandelion greens are more nourishing than even spinach.

From the tight green buds once known as pigsnouts that become bright yellow petal circles that become white ethereal seed orbs, nourished and anchored by a single grounded root, the dandelion is as common as it is numinous.

Conquer all, indeed.


Photo: Tiia Monto, Dandelions and mountains of the Path and Massif du Mont-Blanc, Italy.[spacer height=”20px”][spacer height=”20px”]

1 Comment on The Numinous Common of the Dandelion

  1. Very much appreciated subject and delivery!
    We’re still munching on the leaves here; need to dig some roots.


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