I am the handmaid of the Earth
I ‘broider fair Her glorious gown
And deck Her on Her days of mirth
With many a garland of renown.
And while Earth’s little ones are fain
And play about the Mother’s hem
I scatter every gift I gain
From sun and wind to gladden them.
~ William Morris
Happy Mother’s Day!
Blessings to all Mothers in our world: the carriers, givers, and nurturers of life throughout the biosphere. And of course, in the human realms, we give honor and gratitude to the mothers from whom each one of us came, as well as those who are mothers of human children. And not least, blessings to all those of us whose only children are All That Live.
What a perfect time to continue our discussion of the Goddess Flora, as She represents such an exuberant facet of our Great Mother, the Earth. I will also be posting another tribute for Mother’s Day today, so be sure to check it out.
The Floralia was the ancient Roman celebration honoring Flora. It was originally a moveable feast that coincided with the height of the blossoming of the plants, later becoming fixed on the 27th of April, and then, after the reformation of the Roman calendar, on the 28th.
Although the ludi (the games, such as horse-races or athletic contests) were not held every year, by the days of the Empire, the rest of the festival had expanded to seven days, and usually included music and theatrical performances, some of which were notoriously bawdy.
The Floralia emphasized merriment and celebrations of an amorous nature, much like the rites of Beltane that the Britons were simultaneously celebrating further north, or even the Hindu festival Holi, which, in its warmer climate, naturally occurs a little earlier.
Because one of the later Roman myths about Flora was that She was a wealthy courtesan that left all Her fortunes to Rome, prostitutes adopted the Floralia as their own holiday. Thus, it gained a reputation as being even more licentious and wild than the Saturnalia of December, whose name is, even today, synonymous with the complete abandonment of social and sexual restraints.
At the chariot-races and circus games of the Floralia it was traditional to let goats and hares loose, and flowers were scattered everywhere, as symbols of beauty and fertility. Brightly colored clothing was a must, as were wreaths of flowers, especially roses; and the celebrations drew huge crowds.
Flora Herself was traditionally depicted by the Romans as wearing light spring clothing, holding small bouquets of flowers, and usually crowned with blossoms.
Honey, made from flowers, is one of Her gifts to us. Her name is said to be one of the secret holy names of Rome. She is sometimes called the handmaiden of Ceres, the Goddess of Grain from whose name we get “cereal.”
The poet Ovid also identifies Flora with the Greek flower-nymph Chloris, whose name means “yellow or pale green,” the color of Spring. The word flora is still used as a general name for the plant world, especially when referring to those of a particular region.
Although we are technically a bit behind schedule, why not combine your own Floralia celebrations with Mother’s Day today? Take advantage of the finer things your tax dollars are paying for, like public parks and gardens – and take your mom (or children) to visit one today.
Bury your face in the intoxicating fragrance of roses, tulips and peonies, or whatever is blooming in your part of the world.
Treat yourself to armfuls of flowers, and bedeck your home and office. Yes, they are impermanent. Yes, it is indulgent and frivolous. That is exactly the point!
In the name of Flora, fall in love with what is enticing, beautiful, perhaps even hopelessly impractical.
Get outside. Walk slowly. Breathe deeply.
Let yourself be seduced by the world around you. Allow your own sexy, sensuous, wild, beautiful spirit come out to play!
May Flora bring you Her blessings today and always! Blessed be!