Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Scarlet Poppy

I began this post around Memorial Day. It is said that there was a time when the language of plants, animals, crystals and humans spoke together effortlessly. This is a tribute to the reemergence of that time. May we awake once again to our interconnectedness with all life and all that is.

Scarlet Poppy

Papaver rhoeas Papaveracae – the Scarlet Poppy, a variable flowering plant with large vivid red four petaled flowers and a black center. Annual. Germinates in disturbed soil. When broken it bleeds a white latex liquid. Flowers in late spring and if climate and warmth permit – in the beginning of autumn. The simple leaves are lobed, alternate or whorled. The flowers have petioles and are not sheathed.

Papaver rhoeas ~ Before our meals at the Wise Woman Center in Woodstock, NY where I am an apprenticing herbalist, we stand and sing. We sing of Scarlet Poppies. The scarlet poppy is a symbol of menstruation. In older times and sometimes still today, to ensure a good harvest, women were sent into the fields to bleed before the seeds were sewn. Rich fertile menstrual blood, one of the most nutrient rich resources available on the planet, was offered to our beloved mother. This nourishment from women nourished the community and the planet. Blood was life.

Today on Memorial Day weekend however, I discover a new meaning for the scarlet poppy. It is Sunday and right before Holy Body Service, I am inspired to look up the meaning of the day and remember those fallen, remember those from my own ancestry, remember the women who supported the families and the men who fought and fell on any sides, all sides. Today I remember. In my remembrance, I find the scarlet poppy.

In Flanders Fields and Other Poems a 1919 collection of poems by John McCrae, I find the scarlet poppy again.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below...

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields...

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands, we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields....

McCrae was a Canadian soldier, physician and surgeon who’s Flandes Fields poem brought international attention to the scarlet poppy as a symbol for all fallen soldiers, a symbol of blood on the fields, a symbol of loss and grief and stained Earth. Here the poppy was not a symbol of nourishment and agricultural fertility, but of one of remembrance and Death and the restlessness of the dead should the battle not continue in honor and faith of those fallen. After John McCrae published “In Flanders Fields,” the poppy continued to evolve into a symbol of remembrance of fallen soldiers. In 1918, Mona Michael’s inspired by McCrae’s poem wrote in her pledge to keep the faith of the fallen wrote

“Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,

Sleep sweet – to rise anew!

We caught the torch you threw

And holding high, we keep the Faith

With All who died.”

Mona Michaels went on to introduce the practice of wearing poppies as a symbol of remembrance of those who did not return to celebrate the end of war. Her dedication to this practice spread internationally and the scarlet poppy became recognized not just as a symbol of remembrance but of a time when the world would return to piece after the ‘war to end all wars.’ Ironic, the poppy grows in disturbed soil–the soil of battle.

Pinned to our heart centers, the scarlet poppy holds our fallen loved ones in hand and heart as we move through with faith and remembrance the loss of loved ones during gruesome battles. Mona later went on to use the scarlet poppy as a symbol to raise funds and benefit servicemen in need.

Today I take some time to speak with the plants – to offer my voice as their voice. The Scarlet Poppy Speaks ~

“I would like to welcome a time where the blood of man is replaced by the blood of women and when senseless deforesting is replaced by conscious agriculture and where we truly nourish our communities. I am a symbol of blood and the bleeding of humans and that symbol can cause remembrance and nourishment and my next phase is to be remembered as the flower in the hills where community holds the planet and each other and their blood streams run together in nourishment and wholeness. As a flower, I fold and blossom and grow and hold the beauty of sex in its whole-est form, open, visible and alive. Use me to enliven your sexuality and to remember that which can be used for nourishment and benefit for the entire world.”

Scarlet Poppy on YouTube by Isis Phoenix


May we together hold the vision to return to a time where we are in communication with the plants, the animals, the crystals, the planet, each other. May we listen, really listen and hear what Pacha Mama – beloved mother is saying to us. May we open the doors and gateways of communication and listen once again to the voices of all that is. Open your ears, open the gateways – awake, awake.