Saturday, 6 October 2012

Flower Power - A Passionate Flower

On the one hand there’s well-known Christian symbolism associated with the Passion Flower. On the other there’s some quite overtly sexual symbolism. And I’m guessing that you’d like to hear about one more than the other!

But let’s start with its native habitat. The passion flower is an American and Asian flower. It was used by most of the indigenous American civilisations in some form or other in herbal medicine or as religious offerings.

As mentioned previously in Flower Power Xochipilli was the Aztec god of flowers, beauty and gay sex. Passion flowers are known to have been grown as sacred plants in the gardens of Aztec priests, perhaps no more so than by the priests of Xochipilli.

Across the Pacific in Japan the passion flower appears to be considered as a symbol of homosexuality, not unlike the green carnation. There doesn’t seem to be any firm evidence of exactly why this is, with several theories being suggested on the internet. One theory says that the purple colour of the passion flower was linked to the lavender of the gay rights movement in America in the 1970s. Another theory points out that the plant is bisexual. Yet another says that it became popular among gay men because it resembled a certain part of a man’s anatomy!

Developing this last theory further, it is ironic that the name Passion Flower has been used since the 1990s for a California store that sells adult toys, lubricants and lotions. For those of you who are interested in knowing more of the passion flower’s erotic associations and uses there’s a comprehensive look here.

This site makes a strong connection between the vine of the passion flower and the central American myths about the origin of maize. Here we can bring back Xochipilli. He was also as Aztec maize god and, when worshipped with the main god of maize Centeotl, became a combined single deity called Centeotl-Xochipilli. As this single deity Xochipilli was given offerings to ensure a good maize harvest.

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