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Starwort Aster novae-angliae Michaelmas Daisy

The asters or starworts are named for Astraea, the virgin goddess of justice who left the earth and became the constellation Virgo (her scales became Libra) when the world turned too violent and degenerate for the gods to bear. She was often depicted holding a sheaf of wheat or sometimes a bundle of lightning bolts (the latter probably to indicate some subordination of this older aspect of the divine to the upstart Zeus). In the constellation Virgo, this sheaf or bundle is designated by the fixed star Spica. Asters and other star-shaped flowers are sometimes referred to as Astraea's tears. The depiction of Justice in the tarot deck is thought to be based on Astraea, so consider Michaelmas daisy in connection with causes of justice. Top

JusticeThe Chippewa Indians used Michaelmas daisy in hunting magic, smoking the dried roots as a way to attract game (consider using it for other sorts of hunting, for instance, seeking a lover or finding an object). The Iroquois employed this starwort as hunting medicine and in love charms, which shows its rulership by Venus (it has been used to treat skin problems, a Venus trait for medicinal herbs). The Meskwaki and Potowatami made a smudge with it to awaken unconscious people, which points to possible modern-day magical uses in other types of awakenings, as in initiation or awakening one's Third Eye. But this plant has other histories and other uses. Top

This North American native plant was introduced in England in 1710 and became naturalized there. It gets one of its common names from the feastday of the Archangel Michael (Sept. 29), which is right around the time it flowers. This was one of the four days in the year when rents were paid (quarter days), and so the harvest had to be finished by that day. Thus, this flower can also be seen to signify a time of reckoning, which coincides nicely, I think, with the connection to Astraea as justice. Michaelmas also marked the beginning of hunting season in Ireland, which ties it to the use of Michaelmas daisy as a hunting charm in North America. And of course, since it is associated with the Archangel Michael, it can be helpful for angel magic.  Top

This is a nice plant for cottage gardens, working well at the back of shorter pink, white, or yellow flowers (especially goldenrods, which bloom just before they do). The flowers are usually a bluish-purple but rarely can be pink or even white. Michaelmas Daisy is also a nice dye plant. Without mordant, it makes a pale yellow-green; with alum, yellow-green; with chrome, gold; with tin, yellowish gold; and with iron, grayish green. Goldfinches and sparrows like to eat the seeds, and the flowers attract bees and butterflies, especially because it blooms in the fall, when there isn't much forage. It also makes a good cut flower. Deer won't eat the mature plants (too hairy), but they will eat the shoots, as will rabbits. Michaelmas daisy is also known as starwort, blue chamomile, blue daisy, New England aster, fall-rose,frostweed, and Symphyotrichum novae-angliae. Top

How to grow Michaelmas daisy
This plant grows in all but the hottest areas (like Nevada and Florida). Hybrids of this plant tend to flop over, but this native species is made from stronger stuff. It is a perennial to 3-6ft tall x 4ft wide/1.5m x 1m and extremely hardy (to zone 3) down to -40F/-40C. It's the showiest native aster, but obviously it's still a tough critter. Cold stratify, then the seeds will germinate in 2-4 weeks at room temperature. Set out 12"/30cm apart in full sun or partial shade. You will get more flowers in full sun. To prevent mildew marking the leaves, don't get them wet and give the plant good air circulation (don't plant against a wall). It likes moist soil and will enjoy being in woodland garden or on edges of it. It does hybridize with other asters, so you would have to bag the flowers if you wanted to save seeds, but you might get some interesting results. To get bushier plants, pinch them back a hand's length before mid June. Divide the plants every 3 years in spring to make more and bigger flowers. General growing info.   Top 

Aster novae-angliae
Michaelmas Daisy
200 seeds $3.00


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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic

Hunting Magic
Love Magick
Justice/Reckonings
Awakenings
Angel Magic
Venus Herb

2007, 2015 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.