I’ve been struggling with flu and the school holidays, so some of these aren’t my favourites. I feel clumsier and usual and less attentive in my drawing, and I think maybe that shows. However I am enjoying the variety of plants and colours and once they are up on screen they can take on a surprising new life of their own.
I have written about my fascination with oak leaves before and you can read about that here if you like.
Meaning: Religious superstition
The most striking thing about the passionflower apart from its stylised and slightly alien appearance, is the extent to which it has been co-opted as a metaphor to explain a wide number of religious and cultural ideas.
First, 10 points for you if you knew that in Christian theology the ‘Passion’ in Passionflower refers not to garden variety lust, but to the Passion of Christ, that short and traumatic period between Christ’s entry to Jerusalem and his betrayal and crucifixion.
15th and 16th century Spanish Christian missionaries used the parts of the flower to illustrate the passion story as follows, (thanks Wikipedia!):
- The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles excluding Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer because really who needs friends like those?).
- The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ
- The flower’s radial filaments, represent the crown of thorns
- The chalice-shaped ovary represents a hammer or the Holy Grail
- The 3 stigmas represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance). Stigma is the plural of stigmata, not a connection I had made before.
In less religiously charged interpretations, the distinctive shape of the flower leads to it being called some version of Clock Flower in such disparate cultures as Israel, Greece and Japan. In Turkey, the shape of the flowers have reminded people of Rota Fortunae, or the Wheel of Fortune.
(1) This is a saying, not advice. Don’t eat mushrooms unless you’re 100% certain on their identification.