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Mindfulness Garden Games
by Joann Calabrese
author of Growing Mindful
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Poppies & Recognition of Beauty

Happy New Moon – June 6, 2024
Poppies & Beauty

The poppies in my garden have just begun to unfold. They are shockingly beautiful. No, seriously, I almost forget each year how breathtaking they are. The petals look like they are created from tissue paper and the markings in the center form a beautiful mandala. The six inch flowers seem very delicate but are surprisingly hearty.

Poppies and other ornamental flowers are very late additions to my gardens. My focus with gardening has always been on functionality – vegetables, fruits, herbs – plants that are usable in some way. For much of my life I had a large family and a limited budget so of course growing food was a priority.

My yard was not absent of flowers, but any flower in the yard had to serve a function. I’ve always planted marigolds and nasturtiums, both plants renowned for their ability to assist nearby plants and repel insect predators. And many of the medicinal herbs I plant also have beautiful flowers – echinacea, sage, yarrow. Some vegetable flowers are also quite lovely, like squash and okra. So yes, I had some flowers in my yard.

But for a long time it seemed frivolous to me to plant things I was not going to use in some way. I’m happy to say I have moved beyond that position and realize that with some plants, beauty IS the function. Walking out to the garden in the morning and seeing the poppies blooming brings me a lot of joy. How can we ever have too much beauty in our world?

A Little About Poppies

All poppies belong to the family Papaveraceae, but there are many different species ranging from perennial, to biennial, and annuals. The poppies in my yard are perennial and return each year, even with the harsh Colorado winters and the blazing summer sun. I had no idea how resilient they were.   Poppies come in a range of sizes and shades from reds and pinks to blues and purples. There is probably a type of poppy for every garden. I’ve recently planted an annual variety and we’ll see how it does.

One species of poppy is of course known for its narcotic properties. Papaver somniferum is the source of opium and its derivatives, like morphine. But all poppies have been associated with sleep and dreams. A field of poppies puts Dorothy and her friends to sleep in the Wizard of Oz.

Red Poppies
Poppies

And since World War I, poppies have a strong connection to remembrance of those who have died, especially during war. The poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae was written after the devastating losses during a battle in Belgium. The poem begins with the lines, “In Flanders fields, the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row“.  The poppies still bloomed on the battlefield as a kind of memorial for the dead.

Energetic Properties of Poppies

Poppies have a strong energetic resonance with soothing and calm energy. They have been associated with dreams and meditation and can be used on an altar as a reminder to focus. The center of many flowers looks like a mandala, but because poppies are so large, the mandala shows up vividly. It is an inviation to mindfulness and being present.

Poppy Bud
Poppy Bud Just Opening

Another energetic correspondence is one of transformation and transition. I wonder if this association is because of the dramatic shift from the flower bud to the open flower. The buds are so large and other-worldly and then they morph into an elegant flower.

But for me the most significant energetic message of poppies is that beauty is its own value. We don’t need to find a reason to plant something beautiful or have beauty in our lives. Beauty is the point.

Poppies are a reminder to cultivate and notice beauty. Intentionally cultivating beauty and seeking it out can be an antidote to some of the challenges of the world. So this new moon, I wish you more beauty in your life and more awareness of the beauty that is already all around you.

About this Blog Post & and Global Healing Circles
Luna in the grapevines

This post is part of my lunar blog series.  For the time being I’ll be posting on each new moon (not the new and full moon as I did the last few years because of some other writing projects). I’m posting this blog early because I’ll be traveling for the eclipse.  Usually, blogs will post each new moon and will be related to plants and ideas featured in my book,  Growing Mindful.  or on other topics related to mindfulness, gardens, and intentional living. For more details and a list of past lunar blog posts, click here. 

An invitation to healing circles. One of my new projects this year is partnering with other graduates of the IIQTC (Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi) to offer virtual HeART of Body Compassionate Self Care Practice Circles based on qigong and tai chi. Check out the information here: Global Healing Circles or contact me if you need more information.

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