Wednesday, 18 February 2015

9. Spring crocus

If the name had not been applied elsewhere, spring crocuses could be called sunflowers. 
These crocuses in the Imbolc garden are like drops of distilled sunshine, wonderfully vibrant and bright in the sunken garden where everything else is still in winter browns and greys. Their narrow, cup-shaped flowers look as if they are reaching and stretching upwards, seeking the sun.

The crocus is not native to Ireland and does not feature in Celtic mythology, but I can't help noticing the links with the Brigit tradition. The pre-Christian goddess Brigit was strongly associated with the sun and fire, and St Brigit is sometimes depicted with a pillar of fire coming out of her head. The crocuses' yellow colour is reminiscent of butter, and the old Celtic festival of Imbolc in early February, now St Brigit's Day, is resonant with the symbolism of milk and cows, birth and maternity.

I imagine St Brigit strolling around her monastery garden in 5th century Kildare on a fine spring day, and the joy she would have felt had she seen a clump of yellow crocuses, the bright, sunny flowers proclaiming that life and spring had returned.
Apart from the crocuses, most of the Imbolc garden is still resting

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