Hail Mother, who art the earth,
Hallowed be thy soil, rock and flora
that nourish and support all life.
Blessed be thy wind that gives us breath
and thy waters
that quench, bathe and refresh all living things.
Holy Earth – as one – we praise
your majesty, grace and wonder.
— Bill Faherty
If the Romans could celebrate the Floralia for a full week, we can continue to do so for another day or two, don’t you think? Here are some additional thoughts about why it is important to celebrate the Goddess Flora by walking in Her gardens, bringing to your altar and living spaces the gifts of Her flowers, and to touch, breathe, and listen to Her gifts in the wild and cultivated places.
I have been working with a woman who is in prison for her unfortunate role in a breaking and entering ring some years ago in a rural area of North Carolina. She will not be eligible for parole for another 15 years. She is exploring the Pagan path, and in our work together, I have been in contact with an important advocate for the legal rights of Pagans and Wiccans to practice their faith behind bars. His name is Patrick McCollum, and may the Goddess bless him for a hundred lifetimes for his work.
He recently sent out a message about an experience he had in another prison (not where my friend is). I will share some of it here, because it pertains to Flora.
“Yesterday I facilitated a first Maypole Dance for sixty-something Pagan female inmates in a state prison here in California. This is the second Maypole I’ve done in a correctional facility, and I’m pretty sure that this is history in the making. The approval of the ritual was a direct result of religious freedom work I’ve been doing in prisons, and the fact that the VA approved our Pentacle, which has in a significant way increased the legitimacy of Wicca in the eyes of government officials.
“To facilitate the ritual, I brought in a 20 foot, 4 inch diameter Maypole and around 3,000 feet of various colored ribbons, and 12 dozen flowers of every color and type. The women spent several hours making Beltane decorations and adorning themselves with ribbons and flowers in their hair in the prison’s chapel and then we moved outside to raise the Maypole.
“A number of women cried as others helped them put flowers in their hair and a large number of them shared that they had not seen a flower, let alone been able to have one in their hair, for many years. In fact, a number of the women in the ritual had not seen or touched a flower in close to 20 years.
“I just can’t imagine being so removed from any type of beauty. Overall, it was a very moving and emotional experience to be a part of the process to say the least, and I feel blessed to have been there…”
Can you imagine not having seen or touched a flower in 20 years? There are so many small things that we on “the outside” take for granted. But today, to honor Flora, I ask that you find time to really appreciate this one small part of your freedom – that you can hold in your hands the delicate, powerful beauty of a rose, or a tulip, or a simple geranium.
You can walk amongst the dandelions, the honeysuckle, the violets. You can gaze at your leisure, in wonder, at the activity of bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies that are all in service to the Goddess Flora.
May you celebrate Her today, because you can, and in honor of those who cannot.