Hedera Helix Meaning: Fascinating Myths and Symbolism

To begin this January series, we’ve chosen Hedera Helix or Ivy as the Capricorn flower. Ok this is not really a flower but the plant comes under the dominion of Saturn which makes it a great gift for those born under the sign of Saturn.

In this blog we’ll begin by having a brief look at the personality and character of the Capricorn zodiac sign.

We’ll then move into how this plant is linked to the planet Saturn and explore various myths associated to this.

The ivy also had various uses in different cultures we will explore this and its various symbolism. And finally, we’ll have a look into the various types of ivies.

Hedera Helix Ivy and the planet Saturn

Capricorn Traits

The sign of Capricorn belongs to the element of Earth. They are the hard workers of the zodiac which a knack for getting ahead in life.

Capricorns are usually ambitious, determined and strong in nature. The earth element makes them very materialistic and enduring.

This provides them with the stamina to keep pushing forward when others would have simply given up.

Those signs tend to be very private and prefer to keep small circles of loyal friends and loved ones.

Their ruling planet is Saturn which provides them with the discipline and self restraint needed to achieve their endeavours.

Hedera Helix Ivy is a plant that falls under the dominion of Saturn, let’s see how this plant relates to Saturn in mythology.

The plant of Dionysus

The ruler of the zodiac Capricorn is the planet Saturn. Hedera Helix is one of the plants that falls under the dominion of Saturn.

The Capricorn zodiac is associated to the Greek god Dionysus. In Roman tradition the equivalent of Dionysus is Bacchus.

A Roman celebration in the honor of the god Saturn called Saturnalia or the Bacchanalia, a seven day orgy of drinking and sensual pleasure.

The Hedera Helix Ivy in Greek means Kissos which was the original name of the infant Bacchus, abandoned by his mother Semele who hid him under an Ivy-bush.

Photo from Lluís Ribes Mateu

The god Bacchus is said to have worshipped the Ivy under the name of Kissos; the plant was sacred to him and he is represented crowned with the leaves of Ivy as well as with those of the vine.

Moreover, his staff was also crowned with Ivy. In ancient Greece and Rome, black Ivy was also used to decorate the thyrsus of Bacchus in commemoration of his march through India.

Hedera Helix Ivy Meaning and Uses in different Cultures

In the past, an ivy bush symbolised a wine-tavern. However, the custom died out around 1654. It was still hung in Normandy and Brittany at the end of the 19th century.

In 1950 Hedera Helix ivy was used at Ashburton, Devonshire for the annual ale-tasting ceremony, and it was hung to show that the ale was of good quality.

The Ivy plant is a cool plant compared to the heat of vine. According to a 10th century collection known as the Geopantica, if a labourer who pruned the vine wore an ivy wreath while doing it, the vine would be plentiful.

There is an old Cornish tradition which relates that the beautiful Iseult, she was unable to endure the loss of her betrothed, the valiant Tristan. She died broken-hearted, and was buried in the same church, but, by order of the king, their graves were placed far asunder.

But soon from the tomb of Tristan came forth a branch of Ivy, and from the tomb of Iseult there issued another branch. Both gradually grew upwards, until at last the lovers, represented by the clinging Ivy, were again united beneath the vaulted roof of the sanctuary.

Symbolism of Hedera Helix Ivy Plant

When the Ivy wraps around ancient trees and ruined buildings nothing can separate them. The is a sign of true love and great friendship, and so the emblem of the ivy is ‘fidelity’.

Fidelity was high on the list of Victorian virtues, and friendship brooches. During that period one of the most popular gifts was a small metal bar entwined with ivy, and the inscription “NOTHING CAN DETACH ME FROM YOU”. A tiara of gold ivy leaves expressed the same sentiment.

The French suspended Ivy at the door of their cabarets as a symbol of love. This is a metaphor to the Ivy, which clings and embraces. It has since been adopted as the emblem of confiding love and friendship.

In Northern mythology. Ivy linked to Thor, the god of thunder, because of its black colour. It is offered to the elves who was his messenger.

In Christian symbolism, ivy represents eternal life and the resurrection of the son of God.

When blending at Christmas Ivy and Holly it brings peace to husband and wife in their home.

Ivy Plant Types

Evergreen, develops adhesive pads in its juvenile phase. The appearance of ivy’s young phase and mature phase differ greatly. The mature shoots flower and bear fruit, while only the young shoots form adhesive climbing pads. All varieties of Ivy tolerate full shade. You can care for all of those ivies by pruning them in late spring to maintain desired size.

Canaries Ivy

Canaries Ivy or Hedera Canariensis grow up to 5 to 7 cm tall and 5 to 6 m wide. The young leaves are trilobal and 10 to 15 cm l0ng, they are yellowish-green and bronze in winter. The adults leaves are ovate to round and tend to be dark green or petiole dark red . Its hardiness is up to -5 degrees Celsius.

Persian Ivy

Persian Ivy or Hedera Colchica grow up to 10 to 20 cm tall and 10 m wide. The leaves are large and elliptical, they are rarely lobed. The leaf size ranges from 10 to 25 cm long and are dark green in colour. Its hardiness is up to -15 degrees Celsius.

Hedera Helix ‘Glacier’

Hedera Helix ‘Glacier’ is a type of Common Ivy, it grow up to 5 to 8 cm tall and 3 to 4 cm wide. The leaves are tri or pentalobal and 6 cm long. The shoots are usually green-violet and the leaves gray-green with narrow white border. Its hardiness is up to -10 degrees Celsius.

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