Midsummer Madness – Love in Idleness

For the summer solstice and the upcoming traditional magical Midsummer Night’s Eve, we have the flower “Love in Idleness” (Viola tricolor), for the Eve of St. John, the traditional Midsummer celebration of June 23.

Secret Meaning: I am thinking of our love

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Also known as heart’s delight, tickle-my-fancy, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, come-and-cuddle-me, three faces in a hood, Johnny-jump-up it is the progenitor of the cultivated pansy, and is therefore sometimes called wild pansy.

Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which takes place on this night, is a rich source of floral and tree references:

“I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania some time of the night,
Lulled in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamelled skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.”

 

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But the “Love in Idleness” flower, the wild pansy, plays the most prominent role.

Legend has it that the love-in-idleness was originally a white flower, struck by one of Cupid’s arrows, which turned it purple and gave it its magic love potion. When dripped onto someone’s eyelids this love potion causes an individual to fall madly in love with the next person they see.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare uses this flower as a plot device to introduce the comical disturbance and chaos of love, but also to highlight the irrationality of romantic love.

 

Sir Joseph Noel Paton’s, The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies.

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In the end, the love-in-idleness nectar is used to restore all romances in the play to their original states.

Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it, Love-in-idleness.

~A Midsummer NIght’s Dream, William Shakespeare

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