In the Garden
Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare syn. Chrysanthemum vulgare)
*Also known as garden tansy, golden buttons, and yellow buttons
Growing from one to four feet tall, tansy is sometimes described as weedy because of its tendency to sprawl. Its deeply cut, fern-like leaves are aromatic. Clusters of flat, bright yellow flowers resemble buttons, or daisies without white petals. The flower’s strong scent is long lasting, even when dried. Tansy arrived in North America in colonial times, escaped the domestic garden, and made itself at home along roadsides and fields.
The name tansy is a corruption of the Greek word athanasia, meaning “immortality.” 95 The genus Tanacetum was the medieval Latin name for the plant. Tansy has a long history of use in folk medicine dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. However, most modern herbalists warn against its internal use by laypeople.
Dating to ancient times, tansy was put into coffins and tucked into funeral shrouds. Wreaths of it were also sometimes placed on the dead. Tansy continued to be used as part of funeral practices into the nineteenth century in New England. During the Middle Ages, tansy was used to treat a range of ailments. It did double duty as a strewing herb to freshen the air and control pests, and it was widely used in public places during the plague years.
Considered an antidote to black magic, place dried tansy flowers with your ritual and magic tools to repel negative energy. Hang small tufts of tansy above your altar or front door to repel negativity. Cut short sprigs and use them to “comb” and cleanse someone’s aura or your own. Afterward, burn the sprigs and bury the ashes. Dry bunches of tansy flowers for use on your Samhain altar, or dry them any time a loved one passes as a blessing and offering to the dead.
Tansy is associated with the element water, and its astrological influence comes from Venus.