Cempasúchil, Cempaxochitl, Tagetes Erectus, Marigold Flower — origins from Southwest United States to Argentina, usage worldwide
As October begins, these golden orange hued, multi-petaled, pungent flowers are gracing our gardens. Many will be used to adorn Día de los Muertos altars soon, and in India they beautify Hindu sacred events.
With origins in the Americas, the flower was taken to Europe where it was named “Mary’s Gold” as early Christians placed flowers instead of coins on Mary’s altar as an offering. We now see them in other Christian and Buddhist rituals as well. Whether from the tagetes or calendula species, marigolds are the flower for the birth month of October.
From early Aztec to current Ayurvedic healing practices, the essence of the calendula flowers protects the eyes, cleanses and heals the skin and digestive tract, serves as an insect repellent or the basis of dye. Esoterically, the blooms illustrate the celebration of the continuity of life, the rising sun, the power to resurrect, and even the resilience and resourcefulness of people to continue to thrive against all odds.
On Monday, Oct. 11, we will honor Indigenous Peoples' Day in Oregon. Earlier this year, the Oregon Senate approved House Bill 2626 to designate the second Monday in October—previously celebrated as Columbus Day—with this new and more appropriate designation for a community who has endured against all odds.
As we seek further truths about the history and lived experiences of Native peoples, especially in our state, may we know that this day also bridges some common issues and histories with another whose ethnic strands also weave with several indigenous communities of the Americas—National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) and National Native American Heritage Month (Nov. 1 – Nov. 30). In Oregon, 14 indigenous languages are the first ones spoken by many immigrants from Mexico, Central, and South American, with Spanish as their second language.
Perhaps in time, we will perceive that the intersections of our native communities are as numerous as the petals of the Cempaxochitl.