hist-games: Flower oracles
diane_o_donovan at hotmail.com
Thu Apr 17 10:04:35 PDT 2003
The assignment of virtues (and hence moral meaning) to plants and flowers
has a long history, even in the west and of course predates the use of such
things in fortune-telling per se.
On the roots of the system for assignments, Moldenke's book Plants of the
Bible (available now in a Dover reprint)is illuminating, but better still
sermons and moralia of the medieval period. Thus the rose symbolised perfect
love - the flower of Mary, one of whose epithets was 'Rosa Mundi'. The lily
as symbol of purity was given as one of her symbols too, and from the older,
established patterns of associations first sermon-givers and ultimately the
early modern fortune-tellers gained their ideas.
On antecendents for the relations established between particular plants and
the signs of the zodiac - a system mainly eviolved from the practical
observation of plants' optimum times for harvesting and efficacy see the
handy list in Gleadow's Origin of the Zodiac - an old work but still worth
reading. Additional to the purely practical matter was of course the time
according to the religious year when one or another plant bloomed. In some
cases, the virtue assigned that plant or flower was then that of its Saint
(St. John's wort, for example).
Hope this of interest.
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