Flowers

Flowers have been used as offerings to deities and placed in grave sites for millennia, in a wide variety of cultures.

In Rome, when the Lares, or property guardians, were honored in early December, flowers were placed at all the boundary stones on a piece of property. Certain flowers have long been associated with particular qualities and spiritual meanings.

During the Victorian era, the meanings of flowers changed from spiritual to romantic symbols. Flower meanings became a secret code of love, a means of sending nonverbal messages.

Many flowers are also considered to be magickal herbs. You can use a flower's symbolism to enhance your altar.

Dreams of flower in general can mean several things. To dream of gathering flowers means a delightful surprise is coming your way. A basket of flowers portends a wedding or birth, while a wreath of flowers represents a new love. A garden symbolizes a spiritual blessing. To smell flowers in a dream is a sign you should grasp an opportunity that will soon present itself.

Alyssum: This flower symbolizes sweet virtue.
Anemone: Also known as the windflower from the Greek anemos (wind), tradition says that Aphrodite created this blossom in remembrance of her lover Adonis. The Greeks associated it with Zephyr, god of the west wind, while the Christians believed it sprang up at the foot of the cross from Jesus' blood. It symbolizes abandonment or being forsaken.
Aster: The name of this flower means "star", for it is said to spring from stardust that the goddess Virgo sprinkled on the earth. Known in England as starwort, after 1637, the name changed to Michaelmas daisy. In Europe, tradition says the aster will drive away evil spirits. It symbolizes beginnings that lead to greater things.
Bluebell: In Scotland, this flower is known as Deadmen's Bells. A tradition says that if you hear a bluebell ring, it is a death knell. These flowers are associated with fairies and enchantment. They symbolize constancy.
Buttercup: This wildflower is a symbol of radiance and brightness in a person, or a childlike appreciation of life.
Camellia: Originally from Japan, this flower symbolizes loveliness.
Carnation: The name comes from the Greek dios (divine) and anthos (flower). The Greek used carnations, whose name meant divine flower, to make ceremonial crowns. The red blossom symbolizes passion, while the white represents pure devotion.
Cornflower: Also called Bachelor's Button, this flower symbolizes gentleness of manner and hope in solitude. Greek tradition says that a centaur was healed by this flower after Hercules shot it with a poisoned arrow. It received its other name, Bachelor's Button, during the Middle Ages in England, when girls tucked a blossom under their aprons to ensnare the bachelor of their choice.
Chrysanthemum: A solar symbol associated with completion and fullness of life, this flower was a traditional autumn offering flower in the Far East, where it was cultivated (in China) for over 2,400 years before being brought to the West. In Italy, chrysanthemums are associated with death. This flower symbolizes truth and hope in dark times.
Daffodil: Giving a daffodil symbolizes chivalry. The name is derived from the Old English affodyle, which means "an early arrival". The Romans introduced this flower to Britain.
Dahlia: When the conquistadors came to Mexico, they found that the Aztecs ate dahlia tubers as a treat; the Aztecs called this flower cocoxochitl. It represents the instability of perfect physical beauty.
Daisy: The present name of this flower is derived from the Old English daeges ege, meaning "day's eye". As a symbol of innocence, the Christians believed it was sacred to Mary Magdalene and St. John.
Foxglove: The name comes from the Old English name foxes glofa, or "fingers of a glove". The ancients thought the markings on the flowers were the fingerprints of fairies and associated this flower with them. The Victorians through this flower symbolized insincerity. The seeds contain digitalis and are poisonous.
Gardenia: In China, this flower represented feminine grace, subtlety, and artistry, while in the southern states of the U.S., it meant hospitality. At one time it was known as Cape jasmine, because of a species found in South Africa. During the nineteenth century, this flower was frequently worn by gentlemen on their evening jackets. The gardenia symbolizes sweetness.
Gladiolus: At one time this flower, also known as flags, grew wild in the Middle East. One species grows only in the spray of Victoria Falls in Africa. It symbolizes natural grace.
Heather: This flower grows wild in northern England and Scotland and was said to be a traditional fairy food. The red variety symbolizes passion, while the white means protection from passion.
Heliotrope: Although varieties of this flower were discovered in Peru in the eighteenth century, one variety had been known in Europe for millennia. It represents devotion.
Hollyhock: Brought to Europe by the Crusaders, this flower was originally grown for the taste of its leaves in food. In the eighteenth century, new strains were brought from China. The name is derived from holy plus hoc (mallow). It has several meanings — fertility, creation, abundance, and ambition.
Honeysuckle: The botanical name of this flower means "goat flower". Shakespeare mentioned it under the name woodbine. A symbol of plighted troth, this flower is associated with weddings.
Hyacinth: The blue flower symbolizes dedication, while the white one represents admiration. Named after the youth who loved Apollo, hyacinth also represents young love.
Iris: A symbol of reconciliation and joining, the iris was associated with the Greek goddess of the same name. However, the Egyptians knew of this flower long before and carved images of it into the temples at Karnak. In Japan, this flower is known as ayame. Louis VII had irises with him during the Second French Crusade in 1147; from this came the name fleur de Louis or fleur-de-lis.
Ivy: Although not technically a flower, this plant is listed in Victorian flower codes as symbolizing tenacity. Wear a leaf over your heart to attract love.
Jasmine: Known in the East as a symbol of good luck and increase, this flower was brought to Europe by Vasco da Cama, the explorer, in the sixteenth century. The Chinese call this plant yeh-hsi-ming. Italian brides sometimes wear a sprig of jasmine at weddings. The name is derived from the ancient Persian word yasmin. Traditionally, this flower is used in magick for love, money, and to strengthen psychic abilities. It symbolizes elegance.
Lavender: This flower is widely used to scent drawers and clothing, but is also useful in gaining love, money, and helpful spirits. The name comes from the Latin word lavare, "to wash." The Romans added a sprig of lavender to the laundry and also placed it between sheets and blankets. A symbol of distrust, this flower was placed in homes to avoid marital discord.
Lilac: Native to Turkey, this flower's name comes from the Arabic laylak or the Persian nylac, which means blue. The purple flower represents first love, while the white one symbolizes innocence. These flowers were once thought to ward off the Black Death.
Lilies: An ancient seal from the Minoan culture portrays priestesses bearing temple gifts of water lilies and figs. Another seal shows the Goddess descending into a field of lilies where priestesses are dancing. It was sacred to the Cretan goddess Britomartis because of its powerful association with the feminine. The Greeks believed that the lily sprang from Hera's breast milk dropped upon the earth. The Romans called this flower rosa Junonis, which means "Juno's rose". The Christians connected it to Mary because it symbolized purity.
Lily of the Valley: This flower is also called Our Lady's Tears and Liriconfancy. In Greece, priestesses to Hera made offerings of lilies of the valley to invoke her presence. It symbolized modesty.
Lotus: Possibly the flower with the oldest spiritual meanings, the lotus was sacred to cultures from ancient Egypt to those of China and Japan. Before Buddhism was brought to China, the lotus represented summer, purity, fertility, spirituality, and creative power. A symbol of spiritual purity and the sacred center, the opened lotus was considered sacred in both Buddhism and Hinduism. The bud represented fertility and potential. In ancient Egypt, this flower symbolized the sun and the resurrection of the god Horus. It was so sacred that it is found painted and sculpted on temples and tombs. In India, the Hindu goddess Lakshmi is connected with the lotus. When associated with Lakshmi, this flower symbolizes the yoni, or womb of creation. Many Hindu deities are portrayed sitting on the lotus, which in this instance represents divinity and spirit.
Marigold: Known also as calendula and pot marigold, the flowers are said to promote psychic dreams. This flower was first called golds in England. Later, when it was used to adorn statues of the Virgin Mary, it became known as Mary's gold. It symbolizes constancy and endurance in love in some sources, while in others, it stands for grief or cruelty.
Orchid: This flower symbolizes luxury and ecstasy.
Pansy: Also called heartsease, one definition of this flower is broken hearts and disappointment in love. However, another definition lists the symbolism as thoughts exchanged between lovers. The name comes from the French word for "thought", as it was believed that this flower could grant telepathic ability.
Peony: Known and revered from the Mediterranean to the Far East, the peony has long been connected to healing and magick. The plant, flower, and seed were used as protection against evil spirits and natural disasters, particularly storms and shipwrecks. According to the Chinese, this highly prized flower was the yin, or female, principle. Paeon, the Greek physician to the gods and a student of the healer Asclepius, was associated with the peony, which took his name. This flower represents the ability to keep a secret.
Periwinkle: The Italians call this blue flower the "flower of death", while the French know it as the "violet of sorcery" and the Virgin's flower. It is associated with death because of the tradition that the souls of the dead live within the blossoms. It symbolizes a long relationship.
Poppy: Long associated with sleep, forgetting, and rejuvenation, the poppy was an important part of Egyptian funerary rites. Although the Greeks knew of its narcotic, healing properties, they also offered it at shrines to Demeter and Artemis for fertility, and to Persephone in her death aspect. Their god Morpheus, the god of dreams, was said to use poppy wreaths. The red poppy represents consolation; the pink one, sleep; and the white one, time.
Primrose: Another flower associated with fairies, tradition says to lay one on your doorstep so the fairies will bless your house. Climbers in Switzerland carry the flower to ward off vertigo. It is a symbol of beginning love, birth, and children.
Rose: One of the most meaningful flowers in the West, a single rose primarily represents achievement and perfection. It can also mean the mystic center, the heart and love, spiritual rebirth, and the soul itself. The yellow rose represents home and domestic happiness, the red stands for beauty and passionate love. Sometimes called the flower of light, the white rose symbolizes purity and silence in the West, but death in Asia. Ancient Greek myth says that the rose and the anemone sprang into being when the blood of Adonis, the beloved of the goddess Aphrodite, was shed on the ground. The rose was also scared to Athena. Whenever Hecate was shown wearing a garland of roses, it symbolized the beginning of a new cycle of life. When a chariot containing the statue of Cybele was pulled through Rome during a specific ritual, the Romans tossed roses into the conveyance in her honor. Later, the Christians would honor the Virgin Mary with roses in much the same manner. Deities associated with this flower were Aphrodite, Eros, and Venus. The rose has long been used as a magickal herb for love and happiness in the home.
Snowdrop: This flower is a symbol of hope and renewal.
Sunflower: A plant sacred to the sun deities, Inca priestesses wore gold replicas of this flower. Sunflower seeds were used as offerings in Inca rituals. The botanical name comes from that of the Greek sun god Helios. It symbolizes adoration.
Sweetpea: Although the botanical name comes from the Greek word for "pea", this plant is poisonous if ingested. This flower represents tenderness and lasting pleasure. Tradition says that this good omen should be presented at weddings to the married couple.
Tulip: This flower is a native to Persia and was brought to Europe in 1559 by a man who saw them in a walled garden in Constantinople. The name comes from the Turkish tulbent (turban). Red symbolizes a declaration of love, while yellow means your love is hopeless. Other sources say the tulip is a lucky charm bringing good luck and fame.
Vervain, verbena: Both an herb and a flower, vervain has been held sacred by many cultures that considered it a plant of enchantment and mystery. In Egypt, it was a symbol of the tears of Isis. Greek priests carried it in their robes and used it to cleanse the altars of Zeus. Celtic Druids and ancient Persians believed that vervain not only purified, but also helped with visions and divination. Christian churches used it to make holy water. As one of the most sacred Celtic herbs, vervain was placed on altars as an offering. Other names for this herb are verbena and holy herb. Burn it to repel psychic attack. Other uses are for purification, to attract wealth, and to find love.
Violet: Used in ancient love philters, this flower symbolizes faithfulness, modesty, and a steady love.
Yarrow: This flower has been known and used for millennia in religious rituals. The earliest archaeological findings of yarrow pollen was in Neanderthal graves. It has always been associated with healing and the stopping of bleeding. The Celtic Druids used yarrow in many of their ceremonies, as well as for healing. The name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon gearwe, which means "to prepare". One Chinese method of divination originally used fifty stalks of dried yarrow. Presented to a new bride, yarrow is said to bring happiness. Wear it to break spells and to protect.
Zinnia: This flower symbolizes thoughts of absent friends. In 1519, when conquistadors were exploring Mexico, they found zinnias, which they called mal de ojos.

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