Finally winter is edging away and spring is making itself felt in my garden. One of the first flowers to open is the delightful splash of color from the Spring Crocus. I have yellow and purple crocus flowers and though it hasn’t happened this year I am always delighted to see these raise their lovely heads when there is still snow on the ground. There has been very little snow here this winter. Instead, we have had a relentless battering from Atlantic wind and rain, leaden gray skies and a distinct lack of sunshine. The cheery crocus is a welcome sight and a herald of warmer and sunnier days. Of course this little blossom wouldn’t be on blooming Monday if it were simply a pretty flower. There is so much more it has to offer.
Several legends are linked to the crocus. One links to Valentine’s Day. It is said a Roman physician, Valentinus, who had converted to Christianity, prayed for his patient’s recovery as well as offering them herbal remedies. Christians were persecuted at this time the physician was arrested. Poor Valentinus had a little luck for in the past he’d healed his jailor’s daughter from a troublesome and difficult illness. To alert her to his imprisonment and beg her help Valentinus gave the jailor a note addressed to his on-time patient, inside the folded parchment he put a yellow crocus. When the jailor’s daughter opened this note, the first thing she saw was the yellow crocus. The letter was signed, from your Valentine and so it is said the first valentine letter brought a smile from its receiver and help to its sender.
Along with the romance of the first Valentine the crocus is linked to happy marriage. In times past in India the petals of the crocus were laid on the matrimonial bed after the wedding ceremony. This was done in the belief the flower would help the couple to form a happy loving relationship. Some cynics say the real reason is the aphrodisiac perfume these flowers are said to produce.
In the Victorian language of flowers, the crocus means cheerfulness and gladness and is a delightful gift to offer your lover. It is said to be a bloom full of glee just like the eager happiness of youth and is linked to the youthfulness.
The delicious and beautiful spice Saffron comes from the crocus. Not only does saffron give a delicate flavor and aroma as an ingredient to dishes, it has also been found to work as an anti-carcinogenetic, an antioxidant and also an immune system booster. Modern studies have shown saffron to be useful in treating cancer by helping to fight tumors and easing the discomfort associated with chemotherapy. It has also been used to treat recovering alcoholics and is said to help repair damage done to the brain by alcoholism. Not a bad list of helpful attributes harvested from such a small bloom.
In the past Saffron was as it remains today, a well respected tool in the herbalists list of ingredients. It was said to be useful for treating many illnesses including measles, bladder, kidney and liver disorders and diabetes. An infusion of saffron is said to help relieve depression.
Please remember Saffron is collected by drying the bright red stigmas of Crocus sativus, a specific form of crocus. There are nineteen different forms of crocus. The Autumn Crocus, also known as Meadow Saffron or Naked Lady is highly toxic and can injure pets as well as people so keep them to areas your pets and children don’t visit.
The crocus grows worldwide and thrives in woodland, meadows and general rough ground. It was first cultivated on Crete.
In magic the Spring crocus is associated with Venus, Aphrodite, Eros and Persephone, and the planets Mercury and Venus. Crocus blooms are often used for early spring festival decorations such as at Imbolc and Ostara. This flower is also useful for spells related to new beginnings.
I would recommend the crocus flower to all of you as a visual tonic for winter woes.