Weekly Deity: Flora


Image from 'Women and the Garden' blog

Flora is the Roman goddess of flowers.  Although a minor deity in ancient Rome, she has since enjoyed a surge in popularity, especially in the Renaissance, as artists and poets incorporated her into art and song.  Flora’s Greek counterpart is Chloris, though Chloris is a nymph and not a goddess.

Attributes

What else would you expect from a goddess of flowers but that she be pictured holding flowers?  Flora is often seen in gardens, or with a bouquet of flowers in hand, and is generally depicted as a fair young woman.  In general, she is not considered a great beauty, but she is as lovely as her flowers.

Mythology

Although Flora is most closely associated with flowers and decorative plants, she is also associated with any other plant.  Flora is sort of an umbrella goddess, in terms of what plants she is associated with.  Her season is spring, and as such she is a goddess of growth and fertility.  The Romans granted her a festival of her own (no small thing, considering how many deities they had–a festival of one’s own was a huge deal) called the Floralia, which was held roughly between April 28 and May 3.

Flora did not have any apparent children, but she was married to Favonius, a wind god (the Roman equivalent to Greek Zephyrus), and kept company with Hercules (probably as a friend, not a lover).

Light and Dark Sides

Because Flora doesn’t really have myths of her own, we can’t tell what her personality is.  I could guess that she is sweet-natured and kind, but do not know for certain.  Still, as the goddess of flowers and a goddess of fertility, growth, and renewal, it’s fairly safe to say that she mainly rests on the Light side of the spectrum.  Flora could also be considered a goddess of pleasure, since gardens and flowers in general tend to be considered things which either bring pleasure or are within the domain of the wealthy (many wealthy people throughout history had some kind of pleasure garden).  Her Dark sides may involve overgrowth, which can choke out other plants (or use as an analogy and say overgrowth of one aspect chokes out another), or unchecked growth, which is just as destructive.  She’s just a goddess of flowers and growth, but no mention is made about orderly growth, so I think if one is to work with Flora, this should be kept in mind.

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