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Spring Blossoms and the Goddesses

The goddess (Flora) comes, crowned with garlands of a thousand flowers.   Ovid

 

Spring approaches in the northern hemisphere with bulbs popping up, hellebores bursting forth and trees beginning their annual bloom cycle. How does mythology view the spirited entities contributed to this time of the year?  Spring is the sign of the Goddess and celebrated in many cultures that embrace the awakening of the earth. They encourage flowers to bloom, representing rejuvenation and rebirth of nature. The 5-petaled flowers represent the Goddess. Flowers like columbines, Gaura, buttercups, native geraniums, potentillas, wild roses, and wild strawberries.

 

 

The Roman Flower Goddess Flora seems to be the most famous and best documented of the blooming goddesses. She originated out of the area occupied by modern day Rome. Her roots are in the ancient tribes of the Sabines, Samnites, and Oscans where she was called Flusia

She protects early blooming flowers watching over vegetation, keeping them healthy and free from disease until the autumn harvest. Flora is the Goddess of Love, Youthful Pleasure, and Spring. Her ancient title of Goddess of the Flowering Crops for Grains or Fruit-trees meant plant life.

In later times Flora became the goddess of all flowering plants, including ornamental varieties. Her name in Latin floris, means flower. The Romans honored her with the festival Floralia or Florales Ludi, held from late April too early May coinciding with spring blossoms. The festival began around the year 258 BCE and lasted for six days.  During this time homes, temples, and animals were decked with flowers.  Participants wore floral wreaths in their hair and carried small bouquets. They changed their daily clothing of white to bright colors, imitating the burst of color appearing.

It was the Sabines who named April for Flora.  A months named that has survived through multiple calendar changes in history. Flora is represented as a beautiful maiden and wears a garland of flowers in her hair. She was honored with her image imprinted on Roman coins. Roman occupation carried Floralia festivities throughout Europe in what became the Celtic Beltane and May Day celebrations. The Maypole became another symbol of celebrating Flora, flowers and spring. The word flora is used in modern horticultural or botany to describe the plants of a region. (example – Flora of Pacific Northwest, Flora of Australia, Flora of Highlands, Scotland)

 

Chloris was the Greek Goddess of Flowers and Queen of Spring. She is a beautiful and serene flower nymph. Ovid identifies her with the spring colors of yellow or pale green.

Antheia, a nymph of Goddess of Gardens and Blossoms and Flowery Wreaths. She is a minor goddess of the Charites or Graces. They were goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity, and fertility.

Hegemone, Goddess of Plants, makes them bloom and bear fruit. Her name means mastery.

 

The Japanese Shinto goddess, Konohanasakuya-hime whose name is translated to princess who blossoms the flowers of the tree. Her nickname, Sakuya, is in sync with cherry tree blossoms where their beauty, rapid blooming cycle reflect life and death. She is a symbol of the delicacy of earthly life.

 

 

 

The Aztecan goddess Xochiquetzal means flower standing upright. She carries a bouquet and wears a floral wreath. She is the goddess of beauty, sexuality, and fertility. Surviving fragments of poetry show that the Aztecs recognized the double symbolism of flowers as representing both life and death.

Xochiquetzal’s name contains two major themes. Xochitl means flower and quetzalli means feather. Feathery blossoms are a symbol of her presence in associated with vegetation and flowers. An alluring and youthful woman, richly attired and followed by a retinue of birds and butterflies. Ichpōchtli is another name for her meaning maiden. Xochiquetzal was celebrated every eight years at harvest time in the festival of Atamalqualiztli. Participants worn masks covered with images of animals and flowers. In this form she is the Goddess of Crafts, Dance, Music, Weaving, Magic and Love Spells. Marigold flowers are sacred to her.

The Celtic goddess Artio, Goddess of Nature and the Bear Goddess, comes from the Gaul area of Central Europe. She awakens in the spring.  Statues shown her carrying a bowl in one hand and flowers and fruits in the other sitting under a tree next to a bear. As the Romans moved through Europe, she was absorbed into the Roman goddess Diana and the Greek goddess Artemis. Both who oversaw nature and bears.

Nanna, whose name means daring is the Norse and northern Celtic languages, is the Goddess of flowers and plants. The goddess of romance, joy, and devotional love. She is married to the God Baldr, of Light and Joy. She oversees those flowers that follow the sun in a process known as Heliotropism. Sunflower are a favorite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Key Nature Goddesses From Around the World. J.J. Lewis, February 2020

The Obscure Goddess Online Directory – Flora, Thalia Took, 2013

The Greek Goddesses, paleothea, 2011

Articles with content from Wikipedia, Aztec goddesses

Goddess of the Month: Xochiquetzal (‘Quetzal Flower’), Aztecs at Mexicolore

 XochiquetzalTenochtitlan , Fordham University Art History Department, Jamie Shaud, 2013