Flower Meanings & Symbolism:
Birth Flowers, The Language of Flowers, & Floriography
The earth laughs in flowers. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Flower Meanings & Symbolism
OK. We have a confession to make.
Our Flower Meanings and Symbolism section almost was never born. We love to garden and lost track of time while trying to spy faery folk in the midst of all the luscious colors and smells of Spring. Good thing flowers aren’t shiny! We might still be out in our backyard!
The world’s myths, legends and lore speak of flowers as symbolic backdrops and adornments for divine beings who are as immortal as the stories themselves. In this, we see these Gods and Goddesses as the original hippies. They were the flower children of ancient times and the pioneers of flower power.
But Flower Meanings and their symbolism goes far beyond oral and written cultural traditions. Flowers appear in healers’ kits; in magic spells, in potions and lotions and all manner of notions (thank you Dr. Seuss).
Now, the garden variety symbolic meaning of flowers represents loveliness, the innocence of youth and life’s little joys. But as a broad symbol they come under the dominion of the sun, which is apt since many flowers turn their heads to face the sun as it moves through the sky as if in worship, or minimally get a tan.
The exact manner of determining a blossom’s mystical characteristics hinged on many factors. Sometimes it was the number of petals (so Numerology played a role). Sometimes it was the Color of the flower that gave it meaning, such as the nearly universally celebrated red rose for love.
Other times the leaves, thorns or roots chimed in with yet more symbolic values. It is as if every element of the plant spirit wanted a voice in how people utilized its wonders. Thankfully mages and mystics were listening.
To do any less would be an injustice to Nature’s works of art.
In fact, the communal floral choir was so insistent it finally managed to create an entire language of flower that imprinted itself in our collective unconscious. Floriography appears in many ancient traditions including those of Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. It hit a huge growth spurt during the Victorian Era where people expressed entire conversations with a bouquet – no words, just let the flowers talk. If you don’t think they’re very verbal just sit and listen to a snapdragon chatter sometime.
As with many symbolic systems, Floriography suffered from varying interpretations based on the era and culture(s) involved. Even so, it’s hard to become angry with a proverbial “slip of a petal” when you receive such a beautiful and thoughtful message. As an example, hyacinth means forgiveness, playfulness or a game. If you won at a playful game and the other person felt diminished, you could use one flower for three messages! Nonetheless, a person realizing they made a morphological error could quickly and easily pluck out the offending flower, make a hasty bow or charming curtsy and all would be right with the world once more.
If the differences in meanings didn’t complicate things for star crossed lovers enough, even the bouquet’s wrappings and bows also had symbolic value. It all got rather knotty, and we suspect that’s why it’s now more of mundane part of creating arrangements for special occasions. Let the florists sort it out!
Working With Flower Energy & Spirits
From a spiritual standpoint flowers represent yet another link to the Earth Mother. Consider: there are 270,000 known species of flowers in the world. That’s 270,000 different perspectives and lessons for you to learn. Better get to it. There’ll be a quiz. But you can use Building Beautiful Souls as a virtual cheat sheet and look up some of your favorite flowers to see what message it may have for you.
One great way to get to know flower spirits is by meditating with the living plant. Put on some music. We think daffodils like rock n’ roll, while rose is more of a romantic gal.
Plants do not “speak” like animals, just as animals don’t vibrate like crystal. It takes time to get to recognize what’s coming through. Remember that as a growing thing, your flowers may also give you messages by the way they look. That limp spider plant not only bemoans poor networking but says, “Hey, buddy, I need water, STAT!”
Light workers and holistic healers use a lot of flowers in their endeavors. One good example is Bach’s Flower Remedies. Bach felt that the energetic presence of a plant could be instilled even with a minutia of material. He devised 38 remedies focused on various emotional issues.
For example, Centaury is recommended for the perpetual volunteer, Elm for a work-a-holic and vervain calms the over-excited novice, helping them ground a bit. If you wish, you can add these essences to your Witch’s garden – it won’t harm the soil one bit and give your flowers yet even more well-rounded characteristics.
Flowers and flower parts are very useful in magic and a traditional component in nearly every Grimoire ever written. You can use the traditional symbolism and meaning ascribed to a specific flower, or a more personal one. Then add it to a spell, send it as a prayer into the ritual cauldron, decorate your spring altar lavishly with nature’s fresh abundance, blend it into a potion or your next spring salad or dance with a daisy chain at the sacred fire. Daisies never miss a step; actually they don’t care about the steps at all – just have fun!
Its worthy of noting that Indian custom describes each Chakra (energy point) as a flower. These flowers have symbolic numbers of petals that connect with the energy that comes and goes from that location. On each petal of the Chakra flower, one letter of the Sanskrit alphabet is written. This is another way in which flowers communicate – through our aura and physical power centers.
On a less lofty level, what would the world be without flowers? So much less colorful; so much less interesting. They are a feast for eyes and soul. The smell of flowers on the wind is such a delight that one need not ponder heavy philosophical meanings. As the saying goes, just stop and smell the roses!
A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars. ― Victor Hugo