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NarcissusNarcissus (Narcissus poeticus) Info
Magickally, this old-fashioned flower is dedicated to virgins, hermits, those who practice a solitary spirituality, and people who just enjoy being alone. Reasonably, it is connected to the sign of Virgo and the Hermit card. Venus bathed in narcissus flowers before winning a contest of beauty against Juno and Diana, but the plant is sacred to Adonis. You would think then that this magick herb would be associated with the Sun, but instead it is considered a Mercury herb. Its name comes from the word for "stuck dumb" due to the power of its poisons to take away speech, which Mercury rules. Narcissus is specific for Mercury magickal works, such as those leading to parthenogenesis and invisibility. It's associated with the Harvest Moon (September), a time of abundance but the beginning of the contraction of nature as we head into the dark of the year - the aloneness of winter. In the language of flowers, it signifies peace and harmony as well as selfishness and self knowledge. This is a nice plant for a meditation space in your garden.

This flower's namesake was a young man, son of a river and a nymph, who was so beautiful that everyone fell in love with on sight. He, however, wanted no one. One of the would-be lovers he had spurned asked Nemesis, the god of righteous punishment, that Narcissus be made to suffer the same unrequited love they had suffered. Nemesis listened. One day on a hunt Narcissus stopped by a pool to get a drink and caught sight of his own reflection. He fell in love with it, and knowing he could not have his double, died of grief on the pool's bank. Those who had loved him searched for his body and found only this flower. It is said that he still looks longingly at his reflection in the river Styx.

This old-fashioned flower for late spring is famous for its fragrance, which is one of the most expensive in the world. The Romans made a perfume from this flower, and it featured in early Arab perfume as well. The scent is a combination of jasmine and hyacinth. Its fragrance affects the nervous system (Mercury again), relieving stress. A native of Western Europe, this close relative of the daffodil naturally grows in mountain meadows and flowers March-May, later than daffodils do. Because these are seeds and so contain the maximum amount of genetic information, the flowers can be variable. That's the advantage of growing this plant from seeds as opposed to buying the bulbs. The seeds will take much longer to produce flowers (several years), but the seeds that prosper will produce flowers that flourish in your unique situation, and once they form bulbs, you will be able to harvest bulb offsets (the babies) and have a narcissus singular to your garden forever. The disadvantage is that you have to wait. If you just want a display of flowers the following year, you should buy some bulbs instead. They aren't very expensive and are readily available. All parts of this plant are poisonous, but it's good to grow if you have problems with rodents or deer eating your bulbs in winter. This plant is also known as Pheasant's Eye Daffodil.

How to grow it: Growing this plant from seed is not for the impatient. Sow these seeds 1"/2.5cm apart and 2"/5 cm deep at room temperature for 2-4 wks. Then move them to freezing temperatures (24-39F/-4 to +4șC) for 4-6 wks. Take them out and move them to cold spring temperatures - (41-53F/5-12șC) to germinate in 2-11 months. Or try fall planting or solstice sowing. If you are starting them in a pot, make sure it is a deep one - see the pics of immature narcissus roots here. Leave the seedlings in place until the leaves die the following September. Then gently divide up the little bulbs and give them more room, replanting at the same depth as the seeds were. If you are using pots, use deep ones. If you are planting in the ground and have heavy clay, mix in sand and compost and make sure it is dug down to 9"/23cm. This plant needs deep, rich soil. Space them 9"/23cm apart as well. Narcissus gets 12-18in/30-45cm tall when it is grown up and is hardy to zone 4 (-30F/-35C). It can grow in warm areas but not those that don't have a real winter. This plant likes sun and only dappled shade at most. Once it blooms, it will go dormant in summer, but don't cut or braid the foliage--it needs its leaves to help build the bulb it will produce to survive the winter. General growing info

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magick:

Honoring the Hermit's Path
Virgo Associations
Honoring Adonis
Mercury Herb

© 2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission