What are symbols, why do we need them? The encyclopedia defines a symbol as a conventional sign to denote certain ideas, phenomena or concepts. And we need them, and we are looking for them everywhere in order to find support for their worldview, referring not only to the mind, but also to the feelings and emotions.
Plants embody solar energy, air and water, that is, Space, the natural world. Therefore, they have long been used as symbols in all aspects of human life. This publication is about the symbolic meaning of plants — familiar and not so familiar and distant.
The world tree
As mentioned above, plants have a significant role in the mythological representations of man. The eternal cycle of birth, death and resurrection demonstrated by green organisms could not leave our impressionable ancestors indifferent. And so the universal system of knowledge about the structure of the world is embodied in the plant symbol.
Almost in all world cultures there is a designation of the universe in the form of the Axis of the world-the World tree or the Tree of life. It holds the earth with its roots and supports the sky with its branches. Accordingly, the underground part is associated with the underworld, the trunk — with the earthly world, and the crown — with heaven. The world tree determines the position of our world not only in space but also in time.
Yggdrasil in ancient Norse mythology, Irminsul the ancient Germanic peoples, the tree goddess Iusaaset in Ancient Egypt, Baiterek from the Turkic peoples, Etz Chaim Jews, trampoline tree of Slavs and finally, the biblical Tree of life, planted by God in Eden. These and many other variants are interpretations of the same symbol — the tree of the universe.
In different peoples, the role of the World tree is claimed by different representatives of the plant world, depending on the composition of the local flora. Scientists believe that Yggdrasil and Irminsul can be ash trees or yews, Bayterek is a poplar, acacia is considered to be a tree of Iusat. According to the ancient Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, the World tree is embodied in Ceiba pentandra. The Eden tree of life is presumably a pomegranate. Slavic peoples worshipped oak or maple wood — white maple. Real green prototypes of the World tree have always enjoyed special respect and were considered sacred or at least ritual.
Kissing under the mistletoe
The priests of the ancient Celts (druids) believed that the mistletoe (evergreen shrub, parasitic on some species of trees) is a Golden branch of the Tree of life, the relationship between the real and the spirit world. A plant that lives between heaven and earth and does not touch the soil, blooming in the middle of winter (mistletoe blooms in March-April) – what could be more symbolic?
It was believed that mistletoe is a divine substance, which is lowered to the sacred trees from heaven gods. The ancients thought it came from a lightning strike on a tree. Most often mistletoe symbolized fertility, so it was used for ritual purposes. The juice of this plant was used as a means to help infertile women get pregnant, to improve the fertility and milk production of cattle, to increase the yield.
Hence comes the custom of kissing under the mistletoe: it is believed that such a kiss just a “doomed” couple for a long, happy, and most importantly, fruitful Union. And mistletoe is considered a symbol of femininity and femininity in contrast to the male principle, which symbolizes the oak. Therefore, after a kiss under the Golden branch of the Tree of life, think about the wedding bouquet of the bride-the delicate shoots of this plant are very suitable for him.
Sprigs of mistletoe were placed in cradles to prevent children from having terrible dreams. And in General, a branch of this shrub in the house will protect the owners from the evil eye, witchcraft and evil spirits, will save cattle and crops from death.
To collect mistletoe should only be on the new moon at the winter solstice, to cut the Bush with a Golden sickle, or, at least, break. Not everyone in the household has sickles of gold, and other metal can not be used. And especially carefully you need to watch that the mistletoe Bush does not touch the ground — you need to catch the cut.
The plant blooms in early spring, the fruits ripen by August, and all winter green mistletoe bushes decorate the berries — white, orange or red (depending on the species). Mistletoe harvest time coincides with Christmas, so it is not surprising that it has become one of the popular Christmas plants. It is believed that whoever touches the mistletoe will be happy for the next year. Where it does not grow, similar substitutes have been found-similar parasitic shrubs: Phoradendron in America and Nuytsia floribunda in Australia.
Each species of mistletoe is parasitic on its host trees. Most often these shrubs are found on poplars, Apple trees. In the absence of them is located on hazel, birch, hawthorn, Linden, maple. There are varieties that affect conifers. Depending on where the mistletoe Bush grows, different properties are attributed to the plant.
For example, the one that grows on hazel, helps in finding treasures. However, the search for treasures-it is not easy: it is not enough just to find a mistletoe Bush on hazel. Need to do this in full moon, tree with mistletoe necessarily should have hollow, and in this hollow-to live woodpecker. And you need to persuade the bird to pick a sprig of mistletoe and throw a potential treasure hunter. Here then it is possible to undertake safely a shovel-the treasure is provided to you! And if a snake lives under the hazel and mistletoe, and you catch it, cook it and eat it, then the next day you will Wake up rejuvenated.
The parasite on the walnut is for lovers of alchemy: it turns copper into gold. For the health of the cattle used the smoke from burning the mistletoe, plucked from birch. The most valuable is considered mistletoe, growing on oak-apparently, because, that on this the tree parasite is settling extremely rarely, so as prefers soft timber. That is the oak mistletoe was used in their magical rituals of the druids.
The famous Czech writer Karel Chapek in his humorous book “the year of the gardener” wrote about the Lily: “to the mysterious plants belong lilies… what their mystery is, I will not be able to explain to you: to discover this mystery and worship it, you just have to recognize it as a fact.” In lilies people since ancient times put a symbolic meaning. In Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, the culture of the Cretan-Mycenaean civilization, this flower is one of the favorite ornamental motifs. The stylized image of the Lily was used as a sign of Royal power in India and Assyria, it was printed on ancient Roman and Gallic coins.
Its symbolic meaning is diverse. In ancient cultures, the Lily was identified with female fertility and male strength. The origin of this wonderful flower is mentioned in ancient mythology. It is believed that Hera (the wife of Zeus and the goddess of family and childbirth) in a rage pushed away the baby Hercules who bit her, a trickle of milk spurted from her breast and turned into the milky way. And the drops of milk that fell to the ground turned into Lily flowers.
When Christianity appeared, white lilies, on the contrary, became associated with innocence, hope, justice and purity. Christians believed that these flowers grew out of the tears that eve shed when she and Adam were expelled from the garden of Eden. With the development of theology, the Lily became an indispensable attribute of our lady. Its straight stem denoted Divine intelligence, its downcast leaves modesty, and its snow-white petals virginity.
In religious painting, the Lily flower in a vase or in the hand of the Archangel Gabriel is the canonical image in the scenes of the Annunciation. Until the XIII century, the Lily often accompanied the image of Christ-he was painted in the center of the flower.
According to historical sources, king Clovis of the Franks converted to Christianity in 496. According to legend, an angel gave him a Golden Lily as a sign of purification after baptism. It was this that Clovis made his emblem. Since the middle of the IX century, the image of 3 lilies is increasingly common as a sign of Royal power. Fleurs-de-lys can be seen on Royal seals, in crown form, throne decoration and many other places.
The heraldic Lily became a popular emblem not only among the French monarchs. It was included in their coats of arms of provinces and cities throughout Europe. The stylized flower is still used in family noble coats of arms.
This, of course, is not all plant symbols, in this publication I told about the most famous and significant. You can continue about them for a long time-almost each of the plants symbolizes something or helps to protect yourself from evil forces.