You will struggle to find something with as much meaning, symbolisation, and association with legends and myths as flowers do. In fact, in Roman mythology, they even had a goddess of flowers, which was known as Flora. From passion to purity, from beauty to youth, from life to death, flowers carry so much depth of meaning. In this post, we will take a look and flowers and their mythological associations in particular. Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know…
Let’s begin by taking a look at one of the flowers we all know and love today, the rose. This flower also has a significant role in Roman mythology in particular. The Romans saw the rose as having two distinct meanings. Mainly it was a symbol of beauty and the flower of Venus. It was also associated with the worship of a number of goddesses. However, Romans often planted roses on graves, and so they were also seen as a symbol of death and rebirth.
Another flower with a significant role to play in mythology is the narcissus. In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus. The gods forced Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection when he bent over a water pool. This is because of the way he scorned the advances of those that loved him. In the end, Narcissus drowned when trying to embrace his own image in the water. Therefore, the narcissus flower had an association with God’s punishment for human shortcomings. Today we often hear the term narcissist to describe someone who loves themselves more than others.
The lily is a flower that has an association with a lot of ancient cultures. Today, it is widely purchased from a flower shop when someone has passed away, however, this was not the case for the Greeks, Romans or the Egyptians. The lily was one of the symbols of the Roman goddess Venus and also linked to Juno, queen of the gods. Hera was the queen of the gods in Greece, and the lily was also linked to her. For the Ancient Egyptians, the flower was a symbol of the southern part of their country, Upper Egypt. The lily was also linked to Ishtar, the goddess of fertility and creation in the Near East.
The next flower with a significant place in Greek mythology particularly is the red anemone flower, which you may sometimes hear referred to as the windflower. This flower is linked to Adonis’ death. The tale is that Adonis bled to death when a fierce boar wounded him during hunting alone. When his flood fell, red anemones sprang from the earth, which is why this flower is linked to him.
Last but not least, we have the lotus, which features frequently in Asian mythology. It was believed to be a symbol of female sex organs and thus new life. You will also notice that the goddess Padma appears on a lot of Buddhist monuments and Hindu monuments, and is seen as a creative force. The lotus is actually a symbol of Padma. The lotus also has a role to play in Egyptian mythology as well. The goddess Isis was portrayed as being born from a lotus flower by the ancient Egyptians. The flower was used to represent new life being entered into dead souls, as it was placed in the hands of the dead when they had been mummified.
It is remarkable to think that the beautiful and colourful flowers we place in our home and gift to others played such a significant role in mythology.