Seeing as my last article on the subject of the secret language of flowers was such a hit, I decided to write a second one, praising all the wonderful gifts of Mother Nature!
But this is a special one!
Because this time we are going to go back!
Back in time, when Gods and Titans and Heroes roamed the Earth, and nymphs dressed in leaves, and trees had a voice of their own!
Something that not many people know about me is that I was, am, and will always be a huge fan of Ancient Greek Mythology.
That’s why today, we are going to delve deep into the secrets of Greek myths, into the legends of old where plantlife had superior meaning!
One of the most characteristic faces in Greek mythology was Narcissus. A beautiful young man from Boeotia, the son of Nymph Liroopi and the river Kifissos, for whom many traditions have developed. Here is one of the most famous:
One day the beautiful Narcissus was seated near a spring, and in the waters of the spring, he caught sight of his own reflection. He was so fascinated by his beauty, that he stayed there, admiring himself until he withered and died on the banks of the spring. And right there, where Narcissus drew his last breath, the homonymous flower bloomed for the first time, as a symbol of decay and the inevitable end of life.
Crocus was a friend of the God Hermes. One day, while the two friends were playing, Hermes accidentally struck Crocus, tragically killing him. At the place of the event, rose a flower. Three drops of the unlucky youth’s blood that dripped into the flower gave it its characteristic speckles. Another version of the myth talks about the young Crocus who transformed into the homonymous flower due to heartbreak, when the Nymph Smilax did not return his love.
The Nymph Daphne was a daughter of the river Ladon. She was a hunter and had devoted her life to Artemis, the Goddess of hunting. Like the goddess, she too refused to marry. Many suitors surrounded her asking for her hand, but she rejected them all, even the mighty son of Zeus, Apollo.
Apollo fell in love with Daphne, and when she denied his advances, he chased her endlessly among the trees. Exhausted Daphne, begged her mother, Gaia, to help her, and so, when Apollo tried to embrace her, she turned into a tree. Apollo, to comfort himself, cut a branch from the tree and crowned himself. Since then, daphne or laurel is the sacred plant of the God Apollo, who -according to the legends- decreed that a crown of laurel leaves leaves would be given to those that excelled at overcoming obstacles.
Nowadays, it is known as the ideal Christmas tree. But what do the ancient Greek myths have to say about the fir tree? The fir tree was called Pitys by the Ancient Greeks, and it was the sacred tree of the God Panas. He once fell in love with the nymph Pity, who was also loved by the wind called Vorias. Pity preferred Pan, who made less noise, and Vorias to have his vengeance, blew her over a cliff.
There, Panas found her lifeless body and in his grief, transformed her into his sacred fir tree. Since then, the nymph weeps every time Vorias, or the Northern wind, blows, and her tears are the drops of rosin, dripping every autumn from the tree’s pine cones.
According to tradition, Kyparissos was a handsome young man from Kea, son of Tillefos and grandson of Hercules. He was a favorite of Apollo and of Zephyros. His beloved companion was a holy deer. But one summer day, while the deer slept lying in the shade, Kyparissos killed him with a spear by accident. The youth, full of despair, wished for death.
He pleaded with the Gods to help him so that his tears may run for all eternity. Heading his call, the Gods turned him into the cypress, the tree of grief. Since then, the cypress is considered as a mournful tree and is usually planted in places of eternal rest.
I believe it’s pretty obvious by now that there’s a lot more to plants and flowers than just brightening up our homes with their vivid colors and pleasant smells. It’s a mystery why we lost sight of all the myths associated with mother nature and all she so open-handedly offers us every single day.
Our ancestors knew. Why don’t we too?
Written by Emma Linfield