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Author Topic: Flower Symbolism and Lore  (Read 782 times)

Sefiru

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Flower Symbolism and Lore
« on: March 12, 2018, 06:39:08 pm »
I am waiting impatiently for the first flowers to pop up here (the crocuses are putting up sprouts, so...). In the meantime, let's have a thread about flowers as symbols.

I don't just mean Victorian Flower Language (though that is fascinating, and I'm still looking for a good resource); are there any other similar systems?

Do you have any flowers or plants specifically as symbols of something?

Do you have any favorite bits of obscure flower lore?

Yei

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2018, 07:24:29 pm »
I am waiting impatiently for the first flowers to pop up here (the crocuses are putting up sprouts, so...). In the meantime, let's have a thread about flowers as symbols.

I don't just mean Victorian Flower Language (though that is fascinating, and I'm still looking for a good resource); are there any other similar systems?

Do you have any flowers or plants specifically as symbols of something?

Do you have any favorite bits of obscure flower lore?

Flowers are exceptionally important in Mesoamerican religion, and still are in modern Mexico. Flowers were adored for their beauty and aroma, which made them a common offering and components of ritual costumes. Nahua people had several gods associated with flowers, such as Xochipilli (Flower Prince, Xochiquetzal (Precious Flower), and Macuilxochitl (5 Flower).

Many Mesoamerican people, including the Maya and Mexica, had a concept of a flower heaven (or possibly several, as both Tlalocan and Tamoanchan are described as verdant paradises), which was depicted in murals since at least Teotihuacano times. Sometimes this flower heaven is depicted as a flower mountain, though this particular concept appears to have originated with the Maya, and spread through the rest of Mesoamerica through the Toltecs.

Flowers were often closely connected to philosophical concepts, the most obvious ones being beauty and elegance. The term 'Flower and Song' (In Xochitl in Cuicatl), is a metaphor for poetry. However, flowers were also associated with 'soul' or 'spirit.' The souls of dead warriors would eventually return to earth as either butterflies or humming birds, animals that are closely connected to flowers.

Chatelaine

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2018, 08:00:24 pm »
Do you have any favorite bits of obscure flower lore?

Interestingly, despite the widespread association of the lily with purity (and it seems to always be a calla lily in artistic depictions, what's with that?), Orthodox hymnography insists on referring to the Mother of God as 'the never-fading rose'.
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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 09:02:29 pm »


Do you have any flowers or plants specifically as symbols of something?

As a dedicant of Brighid, there are certain flowers that represent Her (for me).

Some of these are based on tradition: snowdrops, dandelions. Some are based on traditional associations:  Her close association with the sun leads to a link to sunflowers and daisies/asters; Her association with the Irish concept of fire in water leads to a link with water lilies.

In certain contexts that are unique to me, lotuses and plumeria flowers can represent Her.

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Yei

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 09:05:44 pm »
Interestingly, despite the widespread association of the lily with purity (and it seems to always be a calla lily in artistic depictions, what's with that?), Orthodox hymnography insists on referring to the Mother of God as 'the never-fading rose'.

The Classic Maya were very fond of water lilies, to the point where nobles wore crowns of lily flowers. Furthermore, they are know to have planted lilies in their reservoirs, to purify their water source.

Sefiru

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2018, 06:56:14 pm »
it seems to always be a calla lily in artistic depictions, what's with that?

I have a sneaking suspicion that it's easier to draw than common lilies.

Now I'm trying to remember if the French Fleur-de-lis is supposed to be a lily or an iris.

Sefiru

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 06:58:05 pm »
Flowers were often closely connected to philosophical concepts, the most obvious ones being beauty and elegance. The term 'Flower and Song' (In Xochitl in Cuicatl), is a metaphor for poetry. However, flowers were also associated with 'soul' or 'spirit.' The souls of dead warriors would eventually return to earth as either butterflies or humming birds, animals that are closely connected to flowers.

I never knew that before! Is it flowers in general, or are there specific ones? What kinds of flowers are native to Central America anyway?

Yei

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2018, 07:39:41 pm »
I never knew that before! Is it flowers in general, or are there specific ones?

Flowers in general. Although some flowers are associated with specific things. Marigolds are often associated with Day of the Dead, for example.

Quote
What kinds of flowers are native to Central America anyway?

Sunflowers, frangipanni, morning glory, marigolds, dahlias, various cactus and agave flowers, I think there is a Mexica poppy, vanilla flowers, lilies, and of course all of the flowering crops.

I know that there are thousands more, but I don't know all their names. Besides, these are the more famous ones that people can actually recognise.

Sefiru

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2018, 08:49:45 pm »
Do you have any favorite bits of obscure flower lore?

My own favorite story is not from mythology, but a pop-science anecdote that I heard decades ago and it stuck in my mind. It went something like this:

Archaeologists in China were digging up a several-thousand-year-old grave site and found a jar which had in it some grains of rice and a single other seed. They couldn't identify this seed and so took a long shot and planted it; it sprouted, and turned out to be a magnolia. And when the magnolia bloomed, it was an unknown variety, which proved that it wasn't a modern seed that had gotten into the dig, but that it had actually survived all that time being buried.

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2018, 03:07:52 pm »
Do you have any flowers or plants specifically as symbols of something?

The symbolism of the water lily/water lotus is rather widespread; It's important in many cultures and religions including:

Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Daoism, Confucianism, Classical Maya, and probably other cultures and religions as well.

I can't really keep live Lotus flowers where I live, but I have lots of lotus images and icons in my home.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2018, 03:09:25 pm by EnderDragonFire »
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2018, 03:11:40 pm »
The symbolism of the water lily/water lotus...

I do realize, of course, that they are separate flowers, but historically were often conflated, and from a symbolic perspective, I don't think they are different.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Sefiru

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2018, 06:54:36 pm »
I do realize, of course, that they are separate flowers, but historically were often conflated, and from a symbolic perspective, I don't think they are different.

I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, myself. Is it that lotuses have flowers on stems that stick out of the water, while water lily flowers float right on the water?

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2018, 08:50:43 pm »
I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, myself. Is it that lotuses have flowers on stems that stick out of the water, while water lily flowers float right on the water?

I'm not sure myself. I don't have very good Google skills, and I'm not a botanist (I'm a historian, actually).
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

JupiterSkies

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2018, 10:50:58 pm »
I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, myself. Is it that lotuses have flowers on stems that stick out of the water, while water lily flowers float right on the water?

A quick Google: Lotuses have leaves and flowers that are emergent from the water, while water lilies have leaves and flowers that float on the water.

Using this to say I have no obscure flower lore, but I'm enjoying stalking this topic.  I'm particularly drawn to roses and baby's breath.  The love deities really enjoy the roses.  The baby's breath... I just am very partial to.  I like to wear it in my hair sometimes, and Persephone seems to get kicks from that.

I'm also enamored of, if in an alternate timeline I would have children, naming them after flowers.  I REALLY wanted to change my name to Rose or Violet when I was little (violets are another favorite).
Eclectic witch - crystal, deity, animal focused work.
I write, mostly poetry.

Sefiru

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Re: Flower Symbolism and Lore
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2018, 06:48:03 pm »
I'm also enamored of, if in an alternate timeline I would have children, naming them after flowers.  I REALLY wanted to change my name to Rose or Violet when I was little (violets are another favorite).

Have you tried them in a salad? I've been interested for a while about edible flowers, though I lack any space to grow them in - I tried some in pots, but they didn't do well. (Someday ...)

My favorite is probably Elderflower, and I'm quite sad that it's hard to find drinks of that flavor around here. I've also heard that people would plant Elder bushes in their yards to ward off bad luck.

I'm also quite fond of Dianthus, aka clove pinks, aka off-brand carnations. The scent is lovely and they apparently make great infused liquor.

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