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Seasonal Folklore - Primroses, Fairies & Love Potions

Seasonal Folklore of Primroses, Love Potions Graphic with clump of primroses on woodland floor

In this weeks seasonal folklore we will look at Primroses and in particular how they are connected to fairies (faeries) and used to make Love Charms!

In folklore, primula vulgaris (the common primrose or first rose), you will often hear primroses called ‘fairy cups’’ as they are believed to have a very strong association with fairies.    


As a child, my granny would tell me that if I ate a primrose I would see a fairy and a large patch of primroses was a sign that the door to the fairy kingdom was nearby.   Furthermore, she said that every evening fairies would dance amongst primroses at night and bless anyone who did the same.  So of course I munched on a lot of primroses (they taste a bit like lettuce) and danced amongst primroses hoping to see a fairy, maybe visit their kingdom and be blessed. As an adult I use the flowers to decorate cakes (particularly chocolate ones), trifles and on top of salads.  


Illustration of the primrose fairy by Cicely Mary Barker

Traditional country folklore stated that leaving primroses on your doorstep would make fairies bless your house, putting them in a cowshed would tell them that they can’t take the milk for themselves and giving hens some primroses to eat when they came into lay in the spring, would mean the fairies would bless you with a good supply of eggs throughout the year. 


Magically, primroses were used to make love charms and potions.   According to a 15th century Grimoire when harvesting primroses you should gather the flowers whilst facing east and then dry them in the shade.   There were some pretty horrid recipes out there - one love charm involved mixing dried primroses with sparrows blood and forming the resultant paste into pellets!  (Yuck).  


A nicer way was to make a love charm involved dried primrose, parchment and rose quartz.  




  • Dried Primrose.

  • A pen and a piece of parchment paper.

  • A small red bag.

  • one piece of rose quartz.

  • Pink or red thread.

  • Few drops rose essential oil (optional)


Grind your dried primrose into a powder. Set this aside. Take your piece of parchment paper and write out the name of your love interest three times in a row. Turn your paper 90 degrees and then write your name on top of theirs three times in a row. Turn the paper 90 degrees one more time, and write out your intention three times in a row. Take a pinch of your primrose and add it to the centre of the paper. Fold the paper in half, making sure you fold the paper towards you. Turn 90 degrees and fold again. Repeat this one more time. Take your string and wrap it around the paper and tie 3 knots. Anoint it with a couple of drops of rose essential oil.   Place this in your charm bag. Add your rose quartz. Carry this on you or place it directly underneath your mattress.


Historically, Herbalist believed primrose could aid women in conceiving and that it would ease childbirth. It was believed that primrose had the ability to strengthen the uterus and promote hormonal balance in women, making it a popular ingredient at the time in herbal remedies for women's health issues.  Ironically evening primrose has health benefits for women but not the common primrose so there may be some historical confusion there.  


Rather touchingly Queen Victoria used to give primroses to one of her favourite Prime Ministers, Disraeli.   Upon his death she sent a wreath made from them.   Other people copied her and to this day, primroses are left at Disraeli's statue at Westminster Abbey on Primrose Day - April 19th. 

So will you be decorating cakes, trifles and salads with primroses in the hope of seeing a fairy? Or maybe next time when you see a patch of primroses you'll be tempted to dance amongst them? I always find the tales and traditions contained in our folklore fascinating - I hope you do too.

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