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.