This week we’re already halfway through the Spring, when the “Cross Quarter” known as May Day occurs on May 2nd, which was a time celebrated in ancient Rome as the festival of Floralia, in honor of the flower goddess Flora, the daughter of Oceanus and the beloved of Zephyrus, the west wind.
In the ancient poet Ovid’s descriptions of Flora, he says that she has dominion not over forests, but of gardens and fields, which no savage beast may enter. She needs and vanishes in the vaporous breeze, and if her scent stays, then you know a goddess has been near.
And if you were to think a flower goddess is a mere trifling, Ovid declared that she was “not confined to dainty wreaths. (Flora’s) divinity touches the fields, too. If crops flower well the threshing floor churns wealth; if the vines flower well, Bacchus flows; if the olives flower well, the year shimmers and the season fills with bursting fruit…” In this respect, Flora can be likened to what would later be known as an elemental being, those beings of the Middle Kingdom who do the work of keeping the earth fertile and abundant. And to link Flora to the night sky, there’s Mars, whom Flora helped into being by sharing a secret with Juno in her wrath over Jove creating Minerva all on his own. Flora touched Juno with a sacred flower, which induced Juno’s pregnancy. The result of this deed was Mars, who forever protected Flora and supported her celebration in Rome. For this Cross Quarter New Moon week, when the edges of the months join hands and as Mars sweeps through the region of Taurus, here is Ovid’s invocation in honor of the flower goddess: “Be present Mother of flowers, honored with shows and play. You start in April and cross the time of May: one has you as it leaves, one as it comes…”