In the past couple of months, I started working on a personal project centered on flowers and their role in myths, legends, and religions throughout history. Like most people, I enjoy looking and savoring the smell of flowers. They are a marvel of nature and a balm for the eyes and the spirit. My love for them, however, is not matched by my knowledge of them. I am terrible at remembering their names as well as the names of plants in general, both in Italian and English! What to do about that?
Many years ago an Italian journalist, Alfredo Cattabiani, wrote a book, Florario,
about the meanings of plants and flower in different cultures. I don't know if it has been translated in other languages,
bought it for me and I began to read it, but my teenager self found it
too dense and erudite for my tastes. So I decided to put it aside for
when I would have reached a more mature and reflexive age. Apparently
this is the time! When I went to Italy last summer, I recovered it from
my old bedroom's bookcase and took it back to the US to give it another
try. After perusing it, more than 20 years later, I still think it's
best taken in small bites (I have a short attention span!), yet it's a fascinating summary of flower lore
that I find very inspiring.
My plan is to follow the book, chapter by chapter and dedicate to each flower an
illustration that evokes not onlythe natural beauty of flower or plant but
also the symbolisms and stories that such beauty has inspired in
humans in the ages past. I will finally learn my flower nomenclature... and hopefully much more!
I started with roses in Sub Rosa. I left several meanings out, by focusing on the love and secret symbolism. I followed with the Lotus of Creation, that I am about to complete (I got stuck because one crucial marker needed an ink refill and I could not bring myself to go to Blick's to buy it! ...it's to cold: I just want to stay home!!!).
Well, of course I knew what roses and lotuses looked like, but I am sure I
will soon encounter several names that have to find a "face"(or
viceversa "faces" that will finally find a name).
Hope you'll stick with me in this discovery journey.
Talk to you soon! :)