Situated on top of the ridge at the Gaea Retreat Center lies Flora’s Garden. This beautiful garden is tenderly cared for by volunteers and staff of Earth Rising Inc and provides visitors an opportunity to view many different plants and flowers. As you walk through its paths or sit upon its bench and gaze appreciatively at the plant life and statutes, you might find that you have found a sanctuary from the turmoil of the festival only short steps away.
Flora, the “flourishing one,” is the Roman goddess of flowers, gardens, and spring. She
is the embodiment of all nature and her name has come to represent all plant life. She is especially a goddess of Flowers to include the flowering of youth. Flora teaches us to honor growing things, both inside and outside us. She is a reminder to pay attention to pleasure, to the beauty of spring, and to new life, wherever it is found. She gives charm to youth, aroma to wine, sweetness to honey, and fragrance to blossoms.
In primitive central Italy Flora was the goddess of budding springtime, of cereals, fruit trees, the vine and flowers. With Robigus (or Robigo) she prevented wheat-rust. With Pomona she watched over fruit trees. In one myth, she gave Juno a magic flower that would allow her to conceive with no help from a man and from this virgin birth Mars was born. She was celebrated as a women that was sexually liberal. Flora was married to Favonius, the wind god, and her companion was Hercules. She became the patron Goddess of prostitutes and Flora became a common name given to them. One of the fairies in the Sleeping Beauty (1959 film) is named Flora after this goddess.
Her festival of unrestrained pleasure, the Floralia, was celebrated at the end of April and beginning of May. This festival was probably the origin of the maypole dance. Initially, her festival of Floralia was held where flowers were gathered to celebrate spring, a season of new beginnings and life. By the time of the Empire, her April holiday was celebrated similar to the northern Beltaine festival which contained sex, dancing, drinking, and sporting events. On the twenty-third of May there was another festival in her honour, a rose festival. The Sabines and the Latins venerated another goddess, Feronia, who shared some of Flora’s functions and watched over spring flowers and vegetation.
Colors: pastels and floral colors
birds, bees, ladybugs
HOW CAN YOU BRING FLORA INTO YOUR LIFE
She teaches us to honor all that grows; gardens, crops, and especially flowers. She also symbolizes the renewal of the cycle of life. As Ostara is the time for sowing plans, Beltane is the time to help these plans germinate.
Flora of the Countryside, Goddess of the flowering plant. Thank you for covering the earth with a beautiful blanket of vivid colors and smells. Assist me as I also continue to grow and become a better person. May I also provide others joy and happiness through my presence. Help us all grow to protect the environment from the many ecological assaults that the human race imposes on nature on a daily basis. May we learn how to live with nature in harmony. So mote it be.