Monday, December 27, 2010

Small White Flowers

This is something that I wrote back in January of 2008.  I had requested an oracle from Kate Winter, author of the Girls Underground Blog. I asked her to see if Persephone had a message for me for the coming year.  Check out her information on her mantic practice here.  I wrote this at the time to sort out the meaning of the message, but it was very personal and I never shared it.  With the dawning of this new year around the corner, I feel like it is the right time to share.  There isn't anything terribly revelatory here, but I thought the images of the small white flowers would bring us through this winter on our journey with Persephone. 

“I saw a pretty gentle year ahead of you, but with a lot of work. But even though there will be work, you will have help and encouragement and gifts along the way. I saw Persephone handing you a bunch of small white flowers and then stepping back to oversee what you were working on. It was pretty sweet, actually.
I think this is straightforward (unlike so many oracles I get!) but if you have any questions, let me know.” – oracle by Dver

When I received the email, I thought to clarify which “small white flowers” Persephone was giving to me. However, I had a sudden sense that this wasn’t something Dver could provide for me. She is the vessel, she is the oracle – but I am the one living my own life. I was inspired to take her words and discover for myself what flowers Persephone might have chosen and, using the Victorian conventions for the language of flowers, determine just what the message might be. So I researched white flowers and came across 10 types that I though the Goddess might have gathered in her bouquet. Then I looked up what those flowers meant. What follows is the message I believe I was given.

Baby’s Breath

A typical addition to wedding arrangements, bouquets of red roses and high school prom corsages, Baby’s Breath seemed to fit the description of “small white flower” more than just about any other. They don’t get much smaller, or more delicate. The Victorians ascribed the message of “Everlasting Love” to these flowers. For Persephone this may describe her own marriage to the Lord of the Underworld. For time and memorial, she remains his loyal and faithful queen returning to his underworld realm each year as promised and taking up her mantle of wife. I’ve often seen her journey back to the upper world to see her mother more of a visit or a vacation, her real work and her real life exist with her husband. Is this not true for most people? Especially in modern America. Children are raised by their parents to be independent beings and eventually leave the nest and make their own fortunes. I myself have been in a long term relationship. I have been with the same person since I was 19 years old and our partnership continues to get better with time. Persephone approves of my choice in made and gives us her blessings that this is indeed an Everlasting Love.


I originally overlooked the carnation as a flower that Persephone might have chosen for me, but I was drawn back to it. When I read the meaning that it was given, I was glad that I did include it on my list of the flowers. The Victorian’s believe is represented “Sweet and lovely”, “innocence” and “pure love”. All of these things fell in line with what Dver saw in Persephone’s message. However, there was one final meaning that seemed more appropriate to me; “Woman’s good luck gift”. Would Persephone have handed me a carnation to give me a boost of “luck” or even her blessings for the coming year? I think a wish of “good luck” form a Goddess would be fortuitous indeed.


I needed to include the Daffodil, or Narcissus, in any bouquet of flowers that Persephone would have gathered. I know, typically they are yellow but indeed they do come in white varieties as well. The Daffodil was the very flower that was planted for Persephone to find that led her to Hades himself. And I was surprised to find what the Victorian’s had considered it’s meaning: “respect”. This gave me a new understanding and appreciation for the choice of the Narcissus as the “trap” for Persephone to fall into. Perhaps it was Hades way of showing that he respected her. It makes the store a little sweeter, in my opinion. Persephone places it in the bouquet for me as a symbol of respect – her respect for my goals for the year or my respect for her presence in my life.


I chose the daisy because it is indeed one of my favorite flowers, and certainly it fits the bill as a small white flower. The language of the Victorians gave it the meaning of Innocence. Innocence is an interesting concept in my life. At my age, I feel perhaps a little old for it. However, it doesn’t need to have that kind of connotation. Perhaps Persephone’s message to me is to live life with more wonder or stay on the path of living life with open and innocent eyes. Enjoy the things that come you way, without to many preconceived notions.


I chose this flower based on its physical attributes. It is a tiny white daisy like flower – individual white petals with a yellow center. It symbolizes protection. It is also a useful medicinal herb helping headaches and fevers. For Persephone to hand me this flower meaning protection I again feel cared for and feel as though she will be looking out for me in the coming year. This does not mean, however, that I should be lax about my own personal safety. I just know that I have some divine assistance along as well.


Though typically seen in purple, I discovered that Heather comes in a beautiful white variety. They are tiny bell shaped flowers with red at the stems. I imagine a cluster with the evergreen foliage would be placed in Persephone’s bouquet. White Heather also represents protection but also, according to the Victorians, they mean that “wishes will come true.” Based on the very gentle nature of the oracle I thought this was a terribly appropriate message. Thank you, Persephone, for allowing me the ability to make my wishes come true. Though, I know it will not be without a lot of hard work.

Lily of the Valley

This was another seemingly obvious choice. They are tiny delicate flowers, bell shaped like the Heather but with big broad green leaves. The Victorians believed it meant a return to happiness. Sweetness was another message they ascribed to the Lily of the Valley, which sounds like it was Persephone’s intention all along. It also stands for humility. Humility is a hard one for me. For some reason, and probably from a “wounded Christian” perspective, I have a negative connotation associated with Humility in my brain. I don’t see why that should be the case. Perhaps that is Persephone’s lesson for me in general. However, recent research into the subject suggested that in many religious traditions, humility is part of the process to finding inner peace. I will take that for what it is worth.


I felt it was important to include the White Rose. The rose has, arguably, the longest continuing history in the “language of flowers” out of any of the blooms discussed here. In mythology, the rose is sacred to lots of Goddesses including Aphrodite. The white rose can symbolize so many things including innocence, purity, secrecy, friendship, reverence and humility. There is the word humility again. I have also read that it can mean Eternal Love and silence. Out of all of these meanings, a couple stand out specifically: Secrecy, Reverence and Silence. What could these mean in terms of Persephone’s message to me? I have always felt that much of my relationship with Persephone is a secret. Not out of shame, but more out of Reverence. I understand that I am breaking this idea with some of the essays I write so that others may better understand my relationship with Her, but there will always be parts that I will remain silent about. To conclude, the Rose may not be able to be explained in word. Rumi, the Muslim mystic might have put it best when he says: “In the driest whitest stretch of pains' infinite desert, I lost my sanity and found this rose”


I understand that the Stephanotis might be an odd flower to choose for me as an avowed unmarried person since its meaning is so tied up with weddings. However, I chose it for a purpose. Persephone, I don’t think, has a preference for those who are legally married. However, I have been dedicated to the same partner for [16] years. Persephone herself, as a queen but not as a mother, holds a special place among the Greek pantheon as a goddess of wives alone. Happiness in marriage has little to do with the paperwork that a couple must file with the state. I think we have demonstrated happiness in marriage more than many married couples that we know (though certainly not all). I also read a meaning that indicates that the Stephanotis represents the desire to travel. In my life, travel may be the second most important thing to me besides my relationship. Brilliantly, it is also immensely important to my partner. Happiness in marriage indeed.


Even though this flower is more commonly found in its purple or even its yellow varieties, I chose the white violet for a specific purpose. I loved the Victorian meaning ascribed to it in the language of flowers. “Let’s take a change on happiness”. I think little more needs to be said than that. Happiness isn’t a right, it is a privilege and we must make the conscious effort to either be happy or not. So, as a final message from Persephone, let us take a chance on happiness!

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