Helianthus annuus

Family: Asteraceae (The Sunflower Family)

Orishas: Oshun, Ogoun

Element: Fire

Sunflowers are one of the most joyous plants I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. But then, I am terribly biased when it comes to sunflowers. Forget those roses and carnations, if you want to cheer someone up, send them a bouquet of sunflowers. Sunflowers embody joyous love. Sunflowers also teach us to thrive and be happy wherever our seed happens to land.

Sunflowers are annuals (meaning they complete their entire lifecycle in one year). They can grow in the hottest, driest summers and in the most disturbed soils. They are also heliotropic, so their flowers buds follow the sun as it moves across the sky. In other words, they always look on the bright side of things. Because of the connection with the sun (hence, “sunflower”) this puts them in to the fire category.

Sunflowers are very hard working plants. Their compound heads produce a multitude of seeds that feed the birds and the wildlife because the flower is actually a composite of many small individual flowers.

Medicinal Uses: The plants produce an abundance of oil which has a multitude of uses. Sunflower oil is low in saturated fats and high in Vitamin E and it is commonly held that the oil is good for the heart. The oil is also used as an emollient in skin care products, softening the skin. Due to its ability to keep in moisture and protect against infection, sunflower oil has been used to protect the skin of premature infants.

Spiritual Uses: Sunflowers can be used be almost anyone in any kind of spiritual workings. Like I mentioned earlier, if you know somebody who is sad or depressed, give them a bouquet. I like to dry the flowers out and use the petals in teas, baths and sachets. The seeds and oil can be used to cook or bake food as an offering or as a spell. Sunflower oil can be used as a base for massage oil or other skin products.

Children of Ogoun need sunflowers. Ogouns have a bad habit of getting mired in the day to day drudgery. Sunflowers remind Ogouns to take time out for joy. One story says that Ogoun got so fed up with civilization (work) that he left for the wilderness and the people suffered. Oshun was the only one who could draw him back to the city, using her honey pot. Ignoring the sexual reference for a moment, I believe that Oshun was able to attract Ogoun because of her joy. Let’s face, Ogoun could have gotten some tail in the woods but what he was really missing was happiness. Oshun offered him a joyous love. Sunflowers are a living reminder of Oshun’s message, the physical embodiment of the Oshun’s honey pot yet still work hard like an Ogoun.