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"The Shadows in The Depths Beyond" c. 2021

Updated: May 9, 2021

While researching flowers for “Dark Portraits: The Language of Flowers”, I have come across flowers that symbolize a dark meaning or have both a light and a dark meaning - A Shadowy Side so to speak. A peony can represent royalty but it can also represent shame. Basil can represent courage in difficulties and an open heart but it can also represent hate. And, yes, I am fully aware that The Language of Flowers or Floriography is not, in any way shape or form, Science. But ascribing meaning to individual flowers or combinations of flowers has been around for centuries with the practice becoming extremely popular in England and The United States during the 19th century and I find it fascinating.

Even though, the previous 5 “The Language of Flowers” drawings are for the most part positive, there is at least one flower in each drawing that has a darker meaning. “Is It Love?” contains flowers pertaining to true love, emotional love and physical love but it also contains the yellow hyacinth for jealousy. “The Ardent Protagonist” contains flowers that represent the positive aspects of an individual’s journey through Life but it also has nightshade for witchcraft. “Witch” has often been used to keep smart independent women in check - the mid-wife or the healer. In “A Creative Journey”, a gazania flower was added as a reminder to not lose our focus. The flowers in “Compassion”, with the addition of the bird of paradise for self-acceptance and the surprise lily for self-forgiveness, advise us to not only be compassionate towards others but also towards ourselves. In “I Have Found My Voice and I have A Lot To Say”, the zephyr lily symbolizes the quest to heal past hurts.

So, finding that flowers can symbolize both the light and the shadowy side is very intriguing. As human beings, we are told to do everything we possibly can to eradicate our negative feelings. Shove down our negative experiences. We are constantly reminded to smile - especially, women. If you are sad, well then, fake happiness until you are happy. This philosophy doesn’t work for me. I am not a happy-butterfly-rainbow-puppy-thoughts-all-the-time kind of person. I am also not a pessimist. The glass is neither half full nor half empty. The glass contains the amount of water it contains. No more. No less. Nope. I am a realistic. I know that with the good sometimes comes the bad. People get sick and get better. People get sick and die. Not everyone achieves their goals and it is not from laziness or a lack of trying. One door may close and another may open but sometimes that other door doesn’t materialize. I am also a firm believer that we need our negative feelings to guide us through bad times. We often need our negative feelings to help us make better decisions. Heck, we might need those negative feelings just to make any decision. Hopefully, acknowledging our bad experiences will remind us to have empathy for others.

Years ago, I took the Strength Finders assessment. It was a very eye-opening experience because I realized that my 5 main strengths were also my weaknesses.

My Strengths

  1. Context: I love hearing people’s backstories. I still buy Blu-Ray discs just to watch the Behind The Scenes footage. Sometimes, the backstory is more interesting than the actual story.

  2. Empathy - I have been through my share of Life experiences and I can often understand where you are coming from and relate to your pain. I can’t solve much but, at times, I am a pretty good hand holder.

  3. Developer: You never need to purchase one of those books on how to get over artist block for me. Never ever.

  4. Harmony: Peace is a good thing.

  5. Adaptability: I do a lot of research (see Context above) and I am relatively decent with figuring out Plan B or Plan Q. Or whatever letter we may be on.

My Shadowy Side

  1. Context: I want EVERYTHING to have a meaning. Which is kinda-sorta impossible and sets up an exhausting search for something that doesn’t exist. If something is in my drawing, it is there for a reason and rarely because I thought it was fun or pretty. If it is not in my drawing, there is a reason for that as well. Researching for the drawings in “The Language of Flowers” is my version of crack.

  2. Empathy: Because I know a person’s backstory, I will often let people get away with things I shouldn’t. There is actually such a thing as Toxic Empathy. Not good. And also, exhausting. As inspiring and transforming as listening to the #MeToo movement stories is, I also deal with PTSD from these stories.

  3. Developer: Sometimes, I would like an OFF switch for the ideas in my head. I am often in the middle of one drawing and super anxious to get started on the next one. Squirrel, anyone?

  4. Harmony: I want harmony at all costs. Often times not speaking up for myself, just to not rock the boat. Happily, menopause is helping me with the speaking up for myself part. Maybe helping a little too well. ha-ha!

  5. Adaptability: Occasionally, what looks like adapting is just me wanting harmony at all costs. So, I will go with the flow but not necessarily be too happy about it.

This particular lightbulb moment may be why I relate to flowers having a light and a dark symbolism. My drawings will probably always have at least one aspect that is considered “negative”. This is my reality. Just remember non-toxic empathy is a good thing! Can you relate to having a shadowy side? Are you willing to admit it?

Flowers in "The Shadows in The Depths Beyond":

Firethorn - Suppressed emotions

Rhododendron - Shadowy self

Petunia - Anger

Black Orchids - Control

Grey Spider Flower - Anxiousness

Nightshade - Dark Thoughts

Blackberry - Envy

Lily - Pride

Fern- Secrets

Gladiola - Ego

Peony - Shame

Bee Balm - Trauma

Scarlet Geranium - I do not trust you

Pasqueflower - Scattered Thoughts

Metallic Starlings/Blackbirds - The Unknown

Bees - The Sun and The Blindness of Love

Spider - Power

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