The Feast of Flowers
(Floralia): an arcane festival involving the Rite of Baptism, a purification often performed as part of or prelude to the Eleusinian Mysteries. In the ‘Limnae’ (temple lakes) the ‘Myste’ (participants) were guided towards and through the ‘slim gate’ of Dionysus, to emerge there as full Initiates. It is considered a relic inherited from the Sabines.
The Romans welcomed the approach of May with their Floralia, a festival we have already described as remarkable for licentiousness; and there cannot be a doubt that our Teutonic forefathers had also their festival of the season long before they became acquainted with the Romans. Yet much of the mediæval celebration of May-day, especially in the South, appears to have been derived from the Floralia of the latter people. As in the Floralia, the arrival of the festival was announced[1]
“Fair Flora I fear I have no buds to give you,
No amorous hare, no spray of blossoms.

Only my hard and fissured heart,
beating dust, and dry of life…

I warm it in the sun as best I can,
but without green I fear it falters still.

With water from cool springs of crystal blue,
it drinks, but does not seem to find its fill.

I ask but one small boon of you, sweet mistress of the sacred urge to open:

The roses in the market, pass by them still they’re there with you! Though you have moved beyond the flower-seller’s stall, you know they’re there – their tender rosey souls shout out beyond their earthly, flowering confines.

So pass by me this way invisible-
and linger for a moment at my heart’s side.

For your wake of tender shoots and tendrils,
Overflow of pollen with sweet bee attendants

Might fill the crags and cracks of this my stony heart,
That seeds of blooms find purchase once again

And get them quickly to their holy work
That I might be renewed and opened,

With heart-flower faces smiling at the sun,
That I may dance along with you and laugh again

Along with all the floral folly that is spring
In her sundry, heady blooming.
Serica Antonius


Flora (Chloris)
Flora, a licentious Goddess of springtime, was depicted as a beautiful maiden, wearing a crown of flowers.
Her festival, the Floralia, was celebrated particularly by the ‘ladies of the night’ across all levels of society. 
This reverence is reflected in the exotic flowers incorporated into her highly theatrical rites, expressing quite explicitly the simulacra of human sexual organs.  Female celebrants often paraded naked until authorities finally banned it during the 3rd century CE.


[i] Sacred texts
paintings: wiki-commons
photo images are copyright of shani oates

~ by meanderingsofthemuse on April 22, 2012.

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