Sunday, April 24, 2016

Symbolism of Flowers

                                      Marita A. Orr (May/June '08 issue, The Essential Herbal)

May Day Tussie Mussie

    Flowers and herbs have been used for thousands of years as food, medicine, shelter, clothing, divination, and spiritual work. They have played a crucial part in the history of mankind. It is interesting to read about the many uses of plants from the times of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, through the Middle Ages, and right up to the current time. I like to think that plants not only connect us back to the earth, but to our ancestors as well, and consequently back to our authentic selves.
    Human beings have used flowers and herbs with the intent of shifting their world for thousands of years . Since earliest times people believed that flowers and herbs have been endowed with magical, mystical or divine properties. They also were seen to possess an in-dwelling spirit or soul which determined each shape and form, way or habit of growth, and purpose in the world. There has been a great movement toward honoring and rediscovering the ancient ways of flower and herb magic, alternative medicine practices have embraced their healing powers and are becoming increasingly more common.

     From the beginning of recorded time flowers and herbs have been used in ceremonies. The occurrence of pollen around bodies in ancient burials suggests that flowers were being buried with bodies as offerings for the dead as far back as 80,000 BC. Bunches of herbs have been found in mummies hands. Papyrus scrolls give comprehensive accounts of sophisticated gardens. In the old days herbs, or simples as they were sometimes named, really meant any plant. The Romans brought large numbers of herbs to Britain and they plant them around their houses and all the monasteries had large herb gardens. Some of them can still be see today in England. Hippocrates revealed over 400 plants in the 4th century which could be used in medicine, about 200 of these are still used today.

     The "Doctrine of Signatures" has been an idea of herbalists for centuries, but it did not become part of the medical philosophy until the middle of the seventeenth century. In uncomplicated terms, the "Doctrine of Signatures" is the idea that God has marked everything He created with a sign (signature). The sign was an clue of the reason for the creation of the item. The Doctrine states that, by watching, you can establish from the color of the flowers or roots, the shape of the leaves, the place of growing, or other signatures, what the plant's intention was in God's design.

St John's wort
     The magical properties of flowers and herbs have been tied together for centuries in love spells, healing flower remedies, and to send messages between lovers. Assigning significance to different flowers first became popular during Victorian times, when courtships began with much less immediate personal contact, and communication was presided over by very firm and complex communal system. With rising complexity of flower symbolism and the language of flowers, handbooks were written to guide the understanding of flower meanings. The first book written on flower symbolism in modern times was Le Language des Fleurs by Madame Charlotte de la Tour in 1819. The most popular book on flower symbolism, is Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers (1884). Some of these characteristics have stayed in place, such as red roses for love, and white for purity. The majority fell out of fashion over the years. With renewed awareness in gardening though, these symbolic meanings are now more stylish then ever. The next time you receive flowers, look closely. There may be a concealed meaning, in the flowers themselves.

rosemary blossom

    Intent is and remains the first factor of the hidden powers that exist in every human being. With the right intent, we can work miracles. With the appropriate intent, we can project ourselves and our energy. As you learn the properties of each plant and use them you will wonder why you planted any other way. When you decide to plant with intention you will never plant the same again.
    I love to put the plants together in containers. They are easily moved and cared for. I also love giving them to those that I love. Everyone could use a container of flowers and herbs that can bring a wealth of harmony into your life or a pot of protection or love to be bestowed upon them.
Here are flower and herbs to get you started:

Plants for love-, Balm of Gilead, Basil, Betony, Catnip, Cinnamon, Cinquefoil
Coriander, Elder, Elecampane, Gardenia, Red Geranium, Hyacinth, Ivy, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Meadowsweet, Myrtle, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rose, Spearmint, Thyme, Valerian, Vervain, Violet, Yarrow

Jason Spring from with his groovy partchouli

Plants for protection-Acacia, Aloe, Angelica, Anise, Basil, Betony, Birch, Burdock, Cactus, Caraway, Cinnamon, Cinquefoil, Comfrey, Coriander, Cypress, Dandelion, Dill, Dragon's Blood, Elder, Fern, Garlic, pink Geranium, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Hyacinth, Hyssop, Lemon Verben, Marjoram, Mugwort, Mullein, Myrrh, Nettle Leaves, Oak, Onion, Rosemary, St. John's Wort, Thistle, Vervain, Willow, Wormwood

Lemon Verbena

Plants for prosperity-Allspice, Almond, Basil, Bergamot, Chamomile, Clover, Ginger Root, High John, Honeysuckle, Mint, Peppermint, Rosemary,

Greek Columnar Basil
 Plants for healing-Flax, Heliotrope, larkspur, thistle, comfrey, yarrow, sage, fennel, tansy, speedwell, garlic, onions, wintergreen, cucumber, anemone.

 ~This is just a small list of what you can find out there. I hope this can give you some ideas.
    People have been always been captivated by flowers. The emergence of blooms at the same time each year was a living demonstration to the power of nature and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Flowers call to mind the principle of understanding magic, remind us of other objects by their shape or color. Their fragrance evokes memories of other times and places in our minds. As colors have come to symbolize dissimilar facets of life, flowers have also take on these magical associations. Most people are conscious that each flower and each color of flower has its own meaning, even if they aren’t aware of very many of these meanings. You can also plant certain color gardens to attract a certain purpose. This is a widely acceptable practice.
White-Purification, protection, peace, service, innocence, truth, wisdom, sincerity.

Valerian blossoms

Pink-Love, friendship, work, creativity, honor, morality
Red- includes pleasure, desire, vitality, will to win, love of sports and the survival instinct. Strength, Faith, Courage, Sex, lust, Vitality, Passion, Communication.
Orange- creativity, confidence, intuition, friendliness and the entrepreneurial spirit. Friendship, learning, stimulation, strength, energy, enthusiasm, authority, luck, adaptability, attraction
Yellow- enthusiasm, cheerfulness, sense of humor, fun, optimism and intellectuality.

yellow sweet clover

Green - Money, healing, abundance, determination, will, luck, fertility, growth, employment, finances
Blue- for Healing, patience, intuition, comfort, love, joy, happiness, tranquility, meditation.

blue vervain

Violet - the psychological quality of transformation, transmutation and the balance of power and love. Additional meanings include charm, magical abilities, spirituality, gratitude, healing severe diseases, meditation
Black- Exorcism, banishing, Healing severe diseases, absorbing and destroying negativity.
    You can research for hours on end to find historical information. You can read books on mythology and plant lore too. Spend countless hours on the internet. There are many resources out there for gathering this information. You will have to gather it though. Two authors that had accurate information and a reasonable amount of flowers and herbs are the late Scott Cunningham and Ellen Dugan. Matthew Woods books are great too! He gives you more insight on the spirit that lingers within the plant as well. Although these may be considered pagan authors, and may not be accepted by all, their work is superb. It has checked out in many plant history and lore reading materials. Their works area great starts. You may not even need to go any further.
    The best way for you to experience the magic is to sit with the flowers and herbs. Understand them. Make it a personal experience. You can even ask them for what you need. Be open to what they have to give. If a plant excluding a weed unexpectedly grows in your garden, make a note of it. Things materialize for a reason and it may be that you or someone you know is in need of the healing characteristics of the plant. It could just be that your garden is in need of a little healing as well.  
Remember most importantly that you need to rely on your intuition. I hope that you will enjoy the prospect of intentional planting and begin practicing it today. It is very enjoyable and exceptionally healing.

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