Yes, it is Flower Friday again and I am so happy and grateful for the task of researching yet another flower’s meaning. I never know what I will find as I explore various cultures uses for and tales about the flower of the day. This morning my experience was no different—I found several different ways to think about the morning glory. The morning glory is a romantic old-fashioned annual that is easy to grow from seed that I have been planting for a number of years now. And there is such an assortment of colors available from seed—many more varieties than most garden stores sell as plants. Although my husband and I plant many vegetables from seed, morning glory is the only flower that we start from seed. True, most of my flowers are perennials, but I do have some annual plants including snapdragon, lobelia, and petunias—none that I started from seed.
Morning glories open with each sunrise so it is not surprising that one symbolic meaning is taking in radiant warmth and healing properties of the sun. They are also said to symbolize affection. The most interesting symbolism that I discovered that is so apt is death and rebirth. For the morning glory, you see, opens each morning and dies by the afternoon—and the cycle begins again the next day. Aztec priests rubbed a mixture of morning glory seeds and other items on their bodies before they performed sacrifices because they believed the morning glory would ensure that the sacrifices would be reborn. And apparently the seeds if eaten cause hallucinations so the Aztecs used them to facilitate communication with spirits from the world of the dead.
In Chinese lore, the morning glory represents a single day each year when the lovers Chien Niu and Chih Neu are allowed to meet. In the tale, Chien Niu was a boy who was given the duty of taking care of water buffalo in the heavenly kingdom. Chih Neu was a girl put in charge of seamstress duties. They fell in love and neglected their responsibilities so God separated the young lovers to either side of the Silver River and allowed them to meet only once during the whole year. Oh the morning glory holds great meaning.
By Denise Levertov
I like to find
what’s not found
at once, but lies
within something of another nature,
in repose, distinct.
Gull feathers of glass, hidden
in white pulp: the bones of squid
which I pull out and lay
blade by blade on the draining board—
tapered as if for swiftness, to pierce
the heart, but fragile, substance
belying design. Or a fruit, mamey,
cased in rough brown peel, the flesh
rose-amber, and the seed:
the seed a stone of wood, carved and
polished, walnut-colored, formed
like a brazilnut, but large,
large enough to fill
the hungry palm of a hand.
I like the juicy stem of grass that grows
within the coarser leaf folded round,
and the butteryellow glow
in the narrow flute from which the morning-glory
opens blue and cool on a hot morning.