Monday, April 6, 2015
The Language of Flowers
We're barely six days into April, but it has already been a pretty wet month. Perhaps that means we're in for an abundance of flowers next month! Anyway, that old saying has gotten me thinking about a concept that is fairly new to me, but is one that I hope to incorporate into my own paranormal investigation work soon. That concept is the Victorian age's obsession with The Language of Flowers.
Also known as floriography, the 'language of flowers' is pretty much exactly what it sounds like it would be: different flowers have symbolic meanings and by arranging mixed bouquets and sending or decorating with certain flowers and flower combinations, one can send almost a cryptic message to another. You can let someone know you just want to be friends...or you can let them know that you definitely want more than that! You could also have certain flowers carved onto a loved one's tombstone as a way to symbolize their earthly attributes, such as beauty, youth, and piety.
Obviously the concept of flowers used as symbolism pre-dates the Victorian era. It is theorized, however, that there is a correlation between the renewed fascination with the language of flowers and the scientific breakthroughs and interest in botany throughout the 1800s. Anyone who was anyone in Victorian times was pretty well versed in the language of flowers, but since there are so many different flowers, all with different meanings, 'helpful' dictionaries were published by various sources. As you can imagine, problems could arise when flowers were given different meanings by different publishers! But it was still a fun concept--one that the Victorians took great pleasure in. And, its a neat little historical fun-fact. But what does it have to do with paranormal investigation???
The theory goes by many names, including my favorite: Singapore Theory. No matter what you choose to call it, though, the idea is the same. Paranormal activity and the chance of communication with the other side is believed to be enhanced by simply recreating the time period from which your suspected entity hails. It allegedly can make an intelligent entity feel more comfortable having things familiar to them around, or it could possibly even stir up residual energies by recreating certain conditions. Many investigators have gotten positive results by dressing in period attire, playing period-appropriate music, and bringing along a variety of antique trigger objects. Normally trigger objects are small objects that we as investigators hope will not only be of interest to a suspected ghost or spirit, but that they will actually be able to move or interact with. Common objects include coins, small toys, and keys, but now I think I'll be bringing FLOWERS as well!
Communication with those who have passed on is often very symbolic to begin with, so it would seem that using the symbolic language of flowers would be an ideal medium. It doesn't hurt that it seems like the vast majority of ghost sightings and hauntings in America involve Victorian era persons! Of course, in addition to actually bringing along flowers to an investigation to convey YOUR message to them, you might also want to look for flowers being used or manipulated as a sign as well. If you know where your suspected ghost/spirit is buried, look for flowers carved on his/her tombstone for clues into their personality. What types of flowers are growing around the property being investigated? Does the property have any artwork featuring certain flowers? Be creative and keep your eyes open---we never know just how the spirit world will reach out to us.
Below are just a few flowers and their meanings. A more comprehensive list can be found at the Victorian Bazaar, linked below:
Zinnia (Mixed): Thinking of, or in memory of an absent friend
Pussy Willow: Motherhood
Monkshood: Beware; danger is near
Purple Hyacinth: Sorry; please forgive me
Yellow Mum: Slighted love
Baby's Breath: Innocence, Purity
Lavender: Love, Devotion
Orange Lily: Hatred, Dislike
Victorian Bazaar: Language of Flowers