Wild Iris at Dawn – © Galen Rowell
In your neat garden iris grows
Bright yellow, mauve – in stately rows.
This one you’ve picked is a lovely thing,
I know it brightens up our spring.
But in the forest, springtime’s child,
A purple iris growing wild,
Can melt my heart as spring melts snow,
It’s spoilt me for the sort you grow!
– Jude, Wild Iris
Here in North Carolina, the irises are coming into their full, spectacular bloom. Regarded as one of the top ten love flowers, the iris of Spring shines with beautiful radiance and is a traditional bloom for symbolizing good news and fortunate times.
In mythology, the Goddess Iris is the personification of the rainbow and acts as the personal messenger of Hera and Zeus, queen and king of the Gods. She particularly mentioned in Homer’s Illiad and is known as Hera’s agent from Mt. Olympus to the world of mortals. Like Hermes, with whom She is also associated, She is a winged messenger and carries a caduceus, as She conveys divine messages to mortals. Her favored mode of travel between these worlds is on the rainbow.
Thus, Her name is given to the graceful flowers that bloom in almost every color of the rainbow. As one aficionado raves, “With its effervescent colors, iris is more than just a flower, but is like a dream fulfilled, a lyric turned into a melody. Send iris to pass the good news, ‘I am in love with you. Will you be mine?’”
Our word, iridescence, is derived from Her name, and it is Her name given to the circle of color in which rests the pupil in human and animal eyes.
Tomorrow, I’ll offer more lore and magic about the beautiful iris. May your day be filled with rainbow messages.