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July 2017

Magickal Botanical ~ Violets

Each fortnight I have a chat with Sonya Feldhoff on ABC Radio about the botanical history of a different flower. We explore their origins, the myths and folklore surrounding them, correspondences which may be of interest to the listeners as well as medicinal, culinary, cosmetic and magickal uses of each. 
At present, I'm getting a lot of email asking for more information about these flowers and I thought I'd open up a few blog posts so we have a place to keep this information. I will come back and add to these posts over time so if you are intetesed in a particular flower, you may wish to bookmark it.
This week, Violets (Viola) because we had such an interest in the connections of these and The Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine. 


Flower Meanings:
All violets: modesty, “pure and sweet art thou’”
Sweet (Blue): faithfulness
Dames Violet: Watchfulness
Dog’s Violet: First love
Purple Violet: You occupy my thoughts
White violet: purity of sentiment
Yellow violet: rare worth and rural happiness

Sweet violets paint

50th Anniversary Flower (as are Yellow Roses)
Day of the Week ~ Thursday
a Zodiac Flower of those born under Pisces, Libra, Capricorn or Taurus
The official flower of the USA State of New Jersey

Myths & Folklore:
Cupid loved violets (which were originally all white) and the Goddess Venus, in a fit of meanest turned them blue after he told her they were even more beautiful than her, so they wouldn’t be so lovely.Zeus had a mistress named Io and so he could hide her from his wife, he turned her into a cow and created violets for her to eat as they are so lovely.
An old Greek belief is that it is an indication that the deceased had settled into paradise if violet, marjoram or rose grow particularly well on their grave.
In England it was believed to be very unlucky to pick the very first violets of spring. You must wait until there at least 12.
Wearing a wreath of violets will prevent deception. Southern England.
In many Northern European cultures they are thought to foretell misfortune. If taken into a house, they would cause bad luck or if taken into barn or heinous, for al the animals to die.
During the European Plague it was strongly believed that their scent attracted fleas and so this may account for these superstitions.
To dream of violets is a good sign meaning a change in luck for the better or advancement. It can also mean you will marry someone younger than you!

Botanical History:
Most types originate from the Northern Hemisphere but there are species found in Australia, the Pacific and even South America.
During the First World War, 2nd July was proclaimed as ‘Violet Day’ in Australia and small posies and badges were sold to raise funds to assist the families of the fallen and those who returned. This tradition continued until 1928.
The Purple Violet was the symbol for the city of Athen over 2,000 years ago.
They were favourite of the Empress Josephine and Napoleon had them planted on her grave. Violets were adopted as the symbol of the Imperial Napoleonic Party and when Napoleon was sent into exile he famously said he was return with the violets of spring. He was toasted by his supporters in secret as ‘Caporal Violette’ On his death, a locket was found containing a lock of Josephine's hair and pressed violets.

Medicinal Folk Remedies:
The scent is said to sooth headache, induce sleep and peacefulness. Wearing them is suppose to prevent dizziness, to comfort a broken heart and to calm ones temper.
The Ancient Greeks made wreaths to wear for this purpose.
Necklaces of violets are thought to prevent one become inebriated.

Herbal medicine:
*Check with a qualified herbalists but, Violets are used for cough suppression, to treat insomnia snd there is even research being undertaken due to the high level of very specific anti-oxidants they contain with the hope of finding use in the treatment viral conditions.

Violets prefer cool to warm climates, and wilt a bit in mid-summer heat.
In warmer areas, we recommend partial shade. They tolerate a variety of soils. Add a general purpose fertilizer when planting them, then once a month after that.
Soil should be moist, but not wet. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Keep them well weeded.
Remove spent blooms to promote additional blooms and extend the blooming period. This will also keep the appearance neat and beautiful.
Violet are hardy annuals. They will often survive the first frost if it is light. They will not survive a hard frost or freeze.

Do Beautiful Flowers Have a Purpose?

Walking through a busy and rather tired shopping centre this morning, I had just gotten off a rather mood lowering call. I moved through the dimly lit thoroughfare which took me from the run-down bargain basement stores to the food market area and there, right there, crowded as of in animated, busy conversation were bunches and bunches of confetti coloured fresh flowers. 
Instantly, I smiled. 
Straight away, I felt that all too familiar little surge of delight. Flowers. 
They sort of do that to you. 

An interesting study 'An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers', Jeannette Havilland-Jones 2005, found that when a person is given or experiences flowers in a communal space, they exhibit more signs of happiness and positive emotions than other stimuli. 

Why is that when really most cultivated flowers serve no real fundamental purpose other than to look pretty? I really am firmly in the camp of those who believe that the beauty of Flowers is a co-evolution response. Flowers need pollinators such as bees., other insects and animals to procreate but they need us to propagate. Humans can not only help spread plants faster but they can assist with great jumps on the evolutionary ladder as well. 

If you are a plant and produce flowers which smell attractive to humans and blossoms which stun them into desire then you are gaining to be wanted and not just in ones or twos. Humans will plant lots of you and work out ways to make you stronger, bigger, even more beautiful so that you may survive and prosper. 

Humans have been forager for most of their time on Earth and I found so much sense in Steven Pinkers discussion in his book,   'How The Mind Works' on this topic. If humans take notice of flowers, where they grow, when they grow and what they belong to, if they are Botanists in other words, then they will know when food in the way of fruits and vegetables can be expected. The emotional response we have to flowers is pleasurable. That little surge of positivity I felt in Marketplace may be this forager response to seeing flowers. I feel good, I'll remember these flowers and where I saw them. 
So what about flowers which do not provide food? 

We know that so many plants provide us with medicine, with materials for shelter, for tools and perhaps these too are indications for us, ones that we have simply forgotten. Maybe there are other attributes that we are only now slowly learning (or relearning) in such things as flower essences, aromatherapy, vibrational medicine but perhaps we simply have not gotten to the point where many plants have developed what we need or more importantly what the plant needs from us.

Maybe their beauty is drawing us in so that the co-evolution may being! 

May you always be a blessing to Nature! 
Cheralyn winter