is for zinnia
My path to the topic today of zinnia is a bit convoluted, but then again I always have enjoyed twisty garden walks.
I recently watched a documentary about Howard Zinn, the dearly missed late social activist and voice of conscience. As a result I ended up looking for a particular quote of his I love about compassion but couldn’t seem to remember quite fully. I never did find it, but I did happen upon another one which seems compelling as well:
“I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare.”
However during my search for the quote I didn’t find, I fell down the proverbial rabbit hole and landed in a field of zinnias.
It seems the flower zinnia was named after another Zinn, Johann Gottfried Zinn – a German botanist who lived in the 1700s. According to the story “Zinn was travelling deep in the mountains of Mexico collecting specimens when he came across a patch of purple flowers he’d never seen before. He gathered a bag full of them. A bit further on he was jumped by a group of thieves, who snatched his bag. And when the only thing that fell out were the now fading purple blossoms, the thieves decided he was an idiot – who else would be traveling through the wilds with nothing more than dead flowers? And they let him go as it was considered unlucky to harm the feeble-minded.”
I love that story – it makes me laugh. And it seems fitting to honor a flower who likely saved someone’s life, or at the very least gave him a wonderful adventure to write about.
Being the flower lover that I am, I don’t suppose it’s a surprise that I love old seed packets and the art on them. This zinnia image is from a vintage seed catalog.
In floriography, the Victorian language of flowers, the meaning of zinnia varied slightly depending on its color, but in general terms meant lasting friendship, constancy and affection. A mix of colors meant “thinking (or in memory) of an absent friend.”
Another take on Zinnia is through Isha Lerner’s Power of Flowers, in which she has studied with the vibrational aspects of flowers through working with flower essences. Here’s the card from her deck.
In her deck, for each flower she offers a blessing, information about the plant’s signature, healing qualities, practical qualities, as well as an associated archetype.
For Zinnia she’s chosen the Laughing Buddha as the archetype, and this is the blessing:
“Laughing Buddha, radiant one,
Carrying within the eternal Sun.
Shower your happiness on everyone.
Zinnia flowers so enchanting and bright,
My inner contentment shines with delight.”
Charming isn’t it? And it certainly inspires me to work with the flower essence on this cold rainy day.
What about you? Do you use flower essences? Love zinnias? Send coded floriography messages with your bouquet choices? Or perhaps you admired Howard Zinn. Do tell – you know I love to hear.