Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pink Saturday - Anemones, rebirth and spring

Pink Saturday - Beverly at the blog "How Sweet the Sound" hosts Pink Saturday. Let the color pink inspire you! This Saturday, we celebrate Spring and Easter.

One of my favorite flowers of spring is the Anemone coronaria, or the poppy windflower. I first learned of these pretty flowers living in Manhattan, where they appeared in spring as cut flowers, displayed in sidewalk stalls at small stores and markets in Greenwich Village. They were simple - a flower like a child would draw - brightly colored, and best of all for me they were cheap enough to buy a dozen for a few dollars.

The common name refers to its close resemblance to the poppy, but its botanical name means "crown anemone."

The anemone is native to the Eastern Mediterranean, and there it is associated with Adonis in Greek mythology. The beautiful youth Adonis was beloved of Aphrodite, goddess of love, who competed with Persephone - the goddess of the underworld - for his attentions. One day while hunting in the woods, Adonis was attacked and gored by a wild boar. As the beautiful youth died, drops of his blood fell to the ground.

"The Awakening of Adonis" - John William Waterhouse, 1900. Click to "embiggen"

As Ovid told it, Aphrodite, grieving for her mortally wounded love:

Then on the blood sweet nectar she bestows,
The scented blood in little bubbles rose:
Little as rainy drops, which flutt'ring fly,
Born by the winds, along a low'ring sky.
Short time ensu'd, 'till where the blood was shed,
A flow'r began to rear its purple head...
Still here the Fate of lovely forms we see,
So sudden fades the sweet Anemonie.
The feeble stems, to stormy blasts a prey,
Their sickly beauties droop, and pine away.
The winds forbid the flow'rs to flourish long,
Which owe to winds their names in Grecian song.

- Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book X

The Adonis myth is a complicated one, gathering threads and bits and pieces from Greek, Roman, Semite and Babylonian lore, and even evokes the theme of resurrection from death that Christians celebrate at Easter. The name of Adonis comes from the Semitic word "Adonai" meaning "Lord."In Christian symbolism, the anemone of Adonis is associated with the Crucifixion. In folklore, the anemone grows at the foot of the cross, and its blossoms are stained with the blood of Christ.

To settle the argument between Aphrodite and Persephone, Zeus decreed that Adonis would spend one third of the year with each lady, and choose with whom he'd spend the remaining third. So Adonis spends two-thirds of the year with the goddess of love, dies and spends his time in the Underworld, then arises in spring and rejoins Aphrodite.

In spring, the women of Ancient Greece mourned the death of Adonis and celebrated his resurrection by sowing the seeds of quick-growing grasses, wheat, fennel or lettuce in pots or baskets of earth they carried to the rooftops - the place where this women-only ritual took place.

Up on the rooftops, women would weep and beat their breasts and rend their garments, but as the shoots of green sprouted from the pots of soil, they rejoiced at his rebirth.

The Adonis myth is mirrored in the Semitic myth of Tammuz, the vegetation god, who sprouts in spring and dies in the drought of summer, only to rise again after the winter rains.

For the women of Ancient Greece, the shallow roots of their "Adonis gardens" and the heat of the spring sun on the rooftops cause the fragile plants to wither and die - making this fertility ritual a peculiar one, very different from other, more optimistic celebrations of harvest and abundance.

It celebrates life as vivid yet fleeting, that all too quickly succcumbs to harsh death.

Just as the fragile petals of the anemone are soon torn away by the wind - "Windflower" being another common name of the anemone.

We await its return.


Marydon said...

What a lovely write ... some I knew, some not. Love the Anemone ...

Have a beautiful Easter ~

racheld said...

You can always be counted on for some lovely info, and some great writing.

I was delighted to see you visit at LAWN TEA, and you'd certainly have been welcome at our table.

I'm looking forward to returning to delve into your archives, and will also look forward to seeing you at DM soon. I'm just so glad to have you both to enjoy reading again.


Pat said...

Thank you for sharing the meaning of anemone - I had no idea. It's a favorite of mine too.

Happy Easter!

Cottage Touch said...

Thank you for sharing your Easter Bliss..HPS!

Tami said...

Thank you for sharing the meaning! Happy Spring and Happy Easter too..xo Tami

Daniella said...

I Love mythology! I studied Latin for 3 years because of my love of the ancient stories. I love your story!!!

Maison Mutt said...

I had NO idea the history of this beautiful flower! Thank you for educating me. Happy PS!
Licks & Wags, Niki

Char said...

Your post is just lovely this week. I too love the Anemone and it's colors. I am very fond of the dark center, it's unlike any other.
Happy Pink Saturday and I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend, Char

cactus petunia said...

Wow. That's a helluva story. To find such meaning and history in a simple flower. As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge!
Happy Easter!

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

Knowledge gained on a lazy pink Saturday ... thank you...and your photos are lovely.

Lara said...

Hi,how wonderful to have found you, thanks so much for visiting my blog
I'm now your newest follower. Happy Pink Saturday and Happy Easter !

mississippi artist said...

I love anemones, though I haven't planted any in years. You inspire me to plant them again.

Holly said...

Such beautiful flowers and a fun post to read - did not know that. I hope you have a wonderfully blessed Easter.
Happy Pink Saturday!

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Four years of Latin, three years of Greek in H.S., and yet I did not know this.

Thanks, Aunt Snow!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

oh man, such flowers!

JCK said...

Love these gorgeous blooms. Happy Easter to you, G!

Sares said...

Wow! That's quite a history for such a little Spring flower! Such a pretty little flower deserves a rich story behind it. Happy Easter to you and have a beautiful weekend!

mypinkprettiesaboutme said...

Thx for sharing. I enjoy learning things I have never even thought of. Have a great weekend.



LV said...


Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Now I never knew it was also called the Windflower. Mom always had anemones. Hope you had a glorious Easter G.
P.s. chickens are very hard to get a good picture of. Don't know why that is. :)

kcinnova said...

Every time I see pink, I think I should join this meme... and then I read your fabulous posts and find myself unworthy. But don't worry about me, I'll be here again to see what wonderful treats you serve up each Saturday (or, you know, days after the fact because my power is out).

D said...

Lovely post. I love the paintings of Waterhouse, but have never seen this one.