So I missed week 12 of PBP, I’m sorry. I’ve been super busy this last week – instead of celebrating spring on the equinox I ended up spending 10 hours in the flu-filled emergency room with my grandpa. He is doing okay now, but has a herniated disk and a lot of other nerve pain. I hate seeing those I love in pain – and I also hate hospitals. After spending so long surrounded by folks with the flu, I don’t feel very well this week but I am trying to carry on and not let it become “the flu.” I can’t tell if this is working so far or not. Regardless, I’m posting my second “F” post a little late.
I use flowers in magic and religious rituals a lot. A lot of religions use flowers, not just Pagan ones. In my practice, flowers are an important element spring and summer festivals especially. The only thing I remember about the Easter season at church as a kid were flowers: Easter lilies and palms on Palm Sunday. I remember walking down the aisle holding my palm and standing up at the altar for the blessing and Bible handing out ceremony. I still enjoy rituals large enough to have a processional. The most awesome thing about my wedding was getting to unabashedly include flowers. Flowers are almost always a big part of any wedding. I don’t even want to get into the flower debate from my wedding. Anyway, flowers are a big part of rituals and I make a point not to overlook this part of ritual in my practice.
Flowers have different meanings and you can easily look up magical correspondences for flowers. There are a ton of folklore but I’m going to talk about the flowers I use and what they mean to me. When I started on this path I admit found correspondence charts and worked with them like my life depended on it. Over time, I’ve developed my own associations with things and that is really what I work from these days. So I don’t want to give the impression this is in any way historically accurate. For spring celebrations like Easter, Ostara, etc. I use spring flowers like tulips, white lilies, periwinkle, daffodils, cherry blossoms and red bud blossoms. Sometimes these flowers are just on the altar, sometimes I have processions with the lilies. Additionally, ferns can be added in for greenery or sweet grasses. These are the things I associate with the beginning of spring. Additionally, I use daffodils and paperwhites for Anthesteria. For May Day or Beltane I tend to work more towards decorating with violets, california poppies, poppies, foxglove (if it’s blooming), wormwood, mugwort, peonies, and bleeding hearts. I use these specific flowers because this was what I remember of my grandmother’s spring gardens. In Missouri, by midsummer, the poppies will be wilting off and the violets have disappeared so I use these plants at the height of spring in May. They are also, to be fair, my favorite flowers and Beltane and Halloween are my favorite holidays. Onto Midsummer, where I am more apt to use roses and rose petals, foxglove (because it will definitely be flowering by this time), morning glories, moonflowers, jasmine, and honeysuckle. All of these flowers have their own associations for spell work but I use them at Midsummer because that’s what’s in season where I am. I may also add hydrangea blooms or wisteria if I have any around. I usually stick to flowers from my garden or that of a relative or friend. This is just a personal thing though. For Lammas I usually decorate the altar with lavender, sweet grasses, berries (black berries since they’re in my uncle’s garden), corn, squash blossoms, and daisies and coneflowers. Again, use what’s local in your area. I know here in the midwest, late summer and early autumn has a ton of wildflowers as well. Using what’s local to your area is almost always more important to me in rituals than what a book says because my spirituality is about my connection to the Earth and the wild places.
Now that I’ve covered what kinds of flowers I like, I’m sure you’re wondering why anyone would care the use flowers. I want to be connected to real wild-places, not some idealize woodlands. One easy way to connect to those wild-places is to bring them into your ritual. The pre-ritual ritual of getting up early and gathering flowers is one way to do this. As is bringing any other part of those places with you: dirt, sand, rocks, crystals, water even. I like to bring flowers for aesthetic reasons as well. Flowers make my altars look pretty, wearing flower crowns looks nice and makes me feel special. This is a personal preference but whatever makes you happy. Also, once a ritual is over I keep the flowers on the altar or around the house until they die. I feel like this is an especially lovely offering on the altar. I would not recommend taking flowers off the altar and using them somewhere else in your home though, when I had my house I often would collect flowers for a centerpiece as well as flowers for the altars. Finally, any time you feel inclined, offerings of flowers are traditional for most deities. Follow your instincts to collect or do some research on your deities’ lore to see what flowers they may prefer. Flower offerings to the dead are also popular and are usually traditional flowers of the dead or favorite flowers of the dead. For example, my best friend Seara loved daisies and I try to be sure that when daisies are in season I collect some and set it on my spirit altar for her. When using flowers be sure to be mindful and have fun.