The Orchid flower meaning is closely associated with the various myths and history surrounding it.
Through the myths we get a better understanding of what metaphors and symbolism this flower is trying to communicate to us.
The Orchid flower falls under the dominion of the planet Venus which makes it a perfect flower for both the Taurus and Libra zodiac signs.
In this blog let’s explore why this flower falls under the dominion of Venus using various myths.
We’ll also get into the symbolism of the orchid flower, it’s uses and history.
What is the full meaning of orchid?
The Orchid flower means beauty, it is the Chinese symbolism for many children and it represents wisdom. The Pink Orchids symbolise pure affection. And the possible power of the plant represents love and psychic powers.
Taurus and Libra Birth Flower
The planet Venus is the ruling planet for both the zodiacs of Taurus and Libra. This makes the Orchid one of the birth flowers of those zodiacs.
The qualities of the planet Venus are love, aesthetics, values, finances and pleasure in all its form.
In the earth sign of Taurus the qualities manifests itself as sensuality in fact they are known to be the most sensual sign.
Other qualities are a love for anything artistic and perhaps an inclination towards luxury which is their way to beautify their environment.
Libra on the other hand is an air sign and the qualities of Venus here manifests itself through communication. They are charming and smooth talkers. Additionally they are graceful and refined.
The sweet-scented Orchis (Gymnadenia conopsea) is the Northern goddess Frigg’s grass. Frigg is the Nordic goddess of love in fact the English word Friday derives from Frigg and the planet Venus is the ruler of Friday.
Frigg is also often seen as the equivalent to the goddess Freyja and also Venus in Roman mythology. It is also associated with the qualities of the planet Venus.
Although the Orchid might both be suited for Taurus and Libra, due to the Taurus sensual nature the Orchid would suit them best.
Orchid flower meaning in Greek Mythology
In Greek mythology Orchis which was the Greek name for the orchid flower was also called Satyrion.
Satyrion is the old name for Orchis and it was related to any aphrodisiac plant from the orchid family.
As we have previously established the orchid falls under the dominion of the Venus and one of the qualities of Venus is pleasure.
The Satyrion’s aphrodisiac properties reflect exactly this quality of pleasure.
Most of the Orchid’s uses and beliefs revolves around aphrodisiacs as we will later explore in history too.
Since the time of Dioscorides the root of the orchids became a powerful addition into the herbalist repertoire.
Orchis in Greek Myth
The Greeks also had a myth surrounding the orchid flower meaning.
Orhcis was the son of the satyr Patellanus and the nymph Acolasia.
They presided over the feasts that were celebrated in the honour of Priapus.
However, Orchis laid his hands in a very violent manner on one of the priestesses of Dionysus. The Maenads (followers of Dionysus) were so furious by this act that they violently tore the young man into pieces.
His father heartbroken pleaded with the gods but the only solution they found was that the body of his son should be transformed into a flower. And in his memory the flower was now known as Orchis.
Orchid flower meaning through its beliefs and uses in ancient times
The orchid flower meaning can be understood through its uses and beliefs from ancient times. This of course varies depending on the time and culture. Let’s get into some of them.
- In New Guinea it was customary to place the orchid flowers around the deceased in funeral parlors and beside tombstones.
- In both China and Japan gardeners raised Orchids. And by 500 BCE in China emperors mainly grew a variety of Orchid (Cymbidium) for its fragrance. Confucius was also familiar with orchids and he perhaps even cultivated them.
- The Azetcs grew the vanilla orchid which they called Tlilxochid. It was specifically grown for its fragrance and for food. They would combine the orchid seeds with the seeds of cocoa which they would then make into a beverage.
- In Japan, an exhibition featuring orchids may attract over 100,000 people. The competition to raise the prettiest orchid is taken with a lot of passion as some contests award new cars to the winner.
The most common British native orchid is Orchis mascula or early purple orchid. The orchid tubers of this region yielded salep which served as a way to cure impotence.
This was also something practiced in other regions such as the northern part of Asia. Once the root was dried it would be grounded then administered (sometimes secretly) as a potion.
Another belief surrounding the orchid tubers was that if men ate the full fat root they would then get male children while if women ate the drier parts of the root then they would have female children.
In Cheshire, the plant was called Gethsemane.
Salep from Orchid Mascula
The word salep or salop is originally Turkish since most of the orchid tubers were manufactured in Turkey. The Arabic name was sahlab.
It is said to be very nutritious and aided in various diets. In fact it was part of provisions of every ships which helped to prevent famine.
The salep would double or even triple when water was added to it which made it the perfect food to have on board of sailing ships.
The salep formed a sort of jelly like substance when water was added to it. A medicinal infusion was made for invalids by combining salep, sugar, spice and wine.
It was also used in the treatment for colitis and diarrhea. It was a common soft drink and even mentioned as a common beverage during the Victorian period for manual workers.
On St John’s day fishermen from the region of Ulster used to place purple orchids on their window sills in order to keep evil away.
It is suggested that the plant bloomed abundantly on the bomb sites of Belfast in 1941 perhaps the origins of the belief was to keeps evil away.
The tribe of Ojibwe Indians in America used the frog orchid as an aphrodisiac and also to make love charms.
Heath Spotted Orchid
Gypsies made a love potion from this variety of orchid. The flowers were dried and crushed then a girl mixed this with her menstruation. It would then somehow be added to the food of the person they were trying to get.
In Sweden this variety of Orchid used to known as Maria’s Keys and it would be put in a amulet in the bed of a pregnant woman in order to achieve an easy delivery. A prayer called Virgin’s Keys used to said at the same time to ease the pain for childbirth.
The Orchis Anthropophora also called the man orchid due to its resemblance as a man grows in the beginning of Autumn. And the orchid that resembles a woman grows in May.
History of the Orchid flower in America
In the 19th century there was a rising interest in the orchid flower.
The Wardian case (an early form of terrarium) made it possible for collectors to ship orchids with ease from the tropics to North America and Europe.
Back then the orchid flower meaning was synonymous of elitism. This was because only the wealthy could afford the inflated prices of collectors and also the cost of glass for a greenhouse.
During prestigious balls and parties it was very common to see both gentlemen and ladies wearing orchid flowers on their clothes.
Los Angeles and San Francisco became centers for orchid culture after World War II.
Those cities provided the appropriate climate to cultivate orchids outdoors.
History of Orchid flower collections
During their explorations the Europeans discovered many new varieties of orchids.
Around the 18th to 19th centuries, Europe’s elite quickened the trade of orchids due to their fascination with the flower.
This growing demand also made nurserymen to sponsor expeditions to the tropics in order to collect new species.
The British naturalist Charles Darwin was also part of this group and studied the Madagascan Orchid Angeracum Sesquipadale.
Frederick Sander was known as the Orchid King during the Victorian era. He boasted to have acquired the most variety of orchids from various regions of the world.
He employed around 100 orchid hunters in order to maintain this kind of collection.
One of the hunters once found a new species of orchid growing on the human remains in New Guinea. He grabbed them then sold them back to Europe upon his return.
Another person who owned a large collection of orchids was the amateur scientist James Bateman. His collection was vast that it took three days to sell them.
Orchids were initially very hard to propagate with seeds however, this changed in 1903 when the French scientist Noel Bernard discovered that fungus in the roots of orchids could help the flower its seed to germinate.
Finally around the 1940s the scientist John Watkins succeeded in propagating orchids by using tissue culture. This method made orchids more available to everyone at a reduced price.
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Deena Bsingh, a UK-born, Mauritius-raised content writer, is a dedicated explorer of the ancient world’s hidden treasures. Armed with classical studies knowledge and a decade of spiritual immersion, Deena delves deep into the wellspring of ancient wisdom. Her illuminating writings on flower meanings and culinary history are imbued with the profound insights she has gathered on her journey. Through her Medium articles, she guides readers on transformative journeys that bridge the gap between ancient cultures and contemporary consciousness, offering a rich tapestry of understanding that endures through time.