My last blog of the year is on flowers and their meaning in dreams.
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. There’s fennel for you, and columbines—There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference—There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. “
–In Shakespeare’s Hamlet
On a walk with my wife early this summer I was admiring all the gardens along our route, not just the quality of the landscaping but the profusion of flowers as well. While bending down to take in the fragrance of a rose I recalled an earlier dream where a rose played a prominent part. This got me to thinking about flowers in general and the special place they have in all our lives and dreams.
We adorn our church sanctuaries with flowers, brides carry a bouquet of flowers as they walk down the aisle and the space is often covered in flowers. The poinsettia shows up at Christmas, the lily makes an entrance at the Christian celebration of Easter, and the Lotus is divine, symbolic of creation. Gods and goddesses sit upon the Lotus that symbolizes purity and raising them above the common, muddy existence of desire and attachment.
Flowers are at our funerals, our graves, our love affairs, our weddings, on national and regional flags, significant celebrations, and we even name our children after them is it any wonder that they also show up in our dreams?
Though today flowers tend to be just pretty emblems of occasion they once had great social and spiritual meaning.
Though Roses may mean a declaration of love today, Marigolds once held that position. Basil is pretty much an aromatic herb for many of us, but for many Indians it is the symbol for the god Vishnu and can be found in a place of honor in their family gardens. Forget-me-nots are the flower of Pisces from the Zodiac, the Yellow Wattle is symbolic of Australia, Tulips are symbolic of Sagittarius and heralds of Spring, and Daisies perfectly symbolize young innocence.
Carl Jung, the 20th century Swiss psychiatrist and guru of dreams saw the rose as representing the Mandala, a symbol of the unconscious self. He thought that dreams with roses were very spiritual in nature and that they were the equivalent of the lotus signifying transformation.
Across the millennia people have assigned mythical and religious meaning to flowers. For example, Lilies might represent the Trinity or the Virgin Mary, Easter, rebirth, or royalty (as in the fleur di lis).
The morning-glory is appropriately named, because the flower blooms in the morning and dies by the afternoon. Georgia O’Keeffe brought the calla lily to prominence with her series of close-up paintings of single calla lily flowers. She wanted the viewer to look closely at the fundamental form of the flower without any preconceived notions. Many of her paintings are considered by some to be spiritual in nature, though some see many of them as sexual so I’m not sure how successful she was at having people see her paintings without preconceived notions. However, the concept of “seeing” something with no preconceived notions is often the Eastern way of seeing a thing’s true nature.
Flowers were used by mystics for metaphysical purposes. For example, the Rose might manifest an activity of God or perhaps a saint such as with the story of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” who ‘s divinity was believed to be present when a rose miraculously showed up during the dead of winter. The rose also plays a significant part in the Grail story and was a symbol of the union with the divine especially the numinous beauty of the goddess. Petals have been found in the tombs of ancient Egypt and sacred to Isis. Alexander the Great brought them to Greece e.g. Hecate, goddess of the underworld, was often depicted with a garland of roses in her hair.
Venus and Aphrodite wore wreaths of roses and the paths to their sanctuaries were strewn with rose petals (as is the aisle the bride walks down in many of todays weddings).
The flower symbolism associated with poppies is beauty, magic, consolation, fertility and eternal life.
“If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake – Aye, what then?”
–Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lavender is a flower placed under a pillow to encourage dreams. Look to see what flowers mean to you in your daily life e.g. love, sex, commitment, recognition, relationship, spiritual, sympathy, or celebration and this will aid you in your interpretation of the dream. I often smile to the memory triggered by the sight of a carnation of when I used to eat them while strolling through the city with my first love. They have taken on the essence of both joy and pain and the melancholy of loss.
In general, to see colorful flowers in your dream can signify kindness, compassion, gentleness, pleasure, and beauty. They are also symbolic of perfection and spirituality. Your dream may be an expression of love and happiness.
Alternatively, flowers, especially if they are blooming, can represent your hidden potential and talents. Flowers can also reflect a particular time or season. If the flowers are white, then it may symbolize sadness e.g. the Lilly is often representative of death as are Daisies i.e. “pushing up daisies”. Consider the color of the flower and the type of flower for added interpretation.
Withered or dead flowers in your dream can suggest disappointments and gloomy situations. Such as an end to a love relationship, or it could suggest that you may not be utilizing your full potential. While to see flowers blooming in dry barren soil can signify that energy and a cheerful nature will empower you to overcome your resentments. If you are picking flowers, then the dream symbolizes blooming love or a new developing relationship.
To dream that you receive a bouquet of flowers can represent respect, approval, reward or admiration.
Finally, flowers and their essences are often used to deal with depression (St. John’s Wort), sleeplessness and stress reduction (Passion Flower, though Chamomile works well also). For the incubation of dreams Mugwort, Lavender, and Chamomile are the most frequently employed. They can be used as an oil, tea, or in a fresh floral display. Often Lavender is placed as a sachet under a pillow before sleep. In the dream incubation centers of the ancient healing temples, called Asclepeion, lavender was often planted in and around the sleeping areas.