Theobroma Cacao – Secret Meaning: Yum Yum

For  July 7, World Chocolate Day, we have the cacao flower (Theobroma cacao). Secret meaning: Yum yum!

Native to the deep tropical regions of Central and South America, its seeds, cocoa beans, are used to make cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and chocolate!
The generic name is derived from the Greek for “food of the gods.”

There are over 300 naturally-occurring chemicals in chocolate, and some of them can affect the human brain via the release of particular neurotransmitters.

One compound, phenylethlyamine, causes alertness and a degree of excitement, quickens the pulse rate, and makes you happy. Phenylethylamine is sometimes called “the love drug”, because it arouses feelings similar to those that occur when one is in love.

heartchocolatewallpaper

Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, is a mood-lifter, as well, and the chemical that causes the release of serotonin into the brain is, tryptophan, also found in chocolate.

Not only that, among the fats in chocolate is one called anadamide, named after the Sanskrit word for “bliss”.

Anandamide activates a receptor which causes dopamine production. Dopamine causes a feeling of intense well-being. And finally, eating chocolate releases endorphins into the brain, which decreases levels of both stress and pain.

chocolateassort

For those susceptible to chocolate’s effects, why not enjoy some today. If not, simply enjoy the cacao tree’s pretty flowers, which grow directly from the trunk of the tree.

 

And for news you can use, according to Tulane University doctoral candidate Arman Sadeghpour an extract of cocoa powder that occurs naturally in chocolates, teas, and other products might be an effective natural alternative to fluoride in toothpaste. In fact, his research revealed that the cocoa extract was even more effective than fluoride in fighting cavities!

Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow) – Secret Meaning: War

“Flow on for ever, Yarrow Stream!
Fulfill thy pensive duty,
Well pleased that future Bards should chant
For simple hearts thy beauty”

-William Wordsworth

Secret Meaning: War

Yarrow is thought to be one of the oldest medicinal herbs used by man.  It was found in a Neanderthal burial site in Iraq, dating from around 60,000 BC .

The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.

For this reason, in antiquity, yarrow was known as herbal militaris, for its use in stanching the flow of blood from wounds.   Other common names for this species include gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal.

Yarrow has also been used as a food or in teas, and was very popular as a vegetable in the 17th century. The younger leaves are said to be a pleasant leaf vegetable when cooked like spinach, or in a soup. Yarrow is sweet with a slight bitter taste. The leaves can also be dried and used as an herb in cooking.

In the Middle Ages, yarrow was part of a herbal mixture known as gruit used in the flavoring of beer prior to the use of hops.

whiteyarrowbutterfly

In the Hebrides a leaf held against the eyes was believed to give second sight.

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

13503100_1126785327378316_8405827113221254699_o

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.”

 

a_midsummer_night's_dream

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.

Sir_Joseph_Noel_Paton_-_The_Quarrel_of_Oberon_and_Titania_-_Google_Art_Project_2

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

A Magical Midsummer Treat

From the most beautiful website “Gather”,  a compendium of wild foods and magical cookery, we have a perfect cookie for any midsummer celebrations, the Summer Solstice Honey Cookies, a magical blend of the following.

Summer Solstice Herby Honey Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups of flour
  • ¾ C. softened butter
  • ¼ C. honey
  • ¼ brown or cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lavender buds
  • 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced sage
  • a few crushed cardamom seeds
  • pinch of salt

solsticecookies

Thistles, Thorns, and Roses

A first post

This is my very first blog post of a facebook page of the same subject matter.  Hoping to use this format to upload more pretty pictures and information about the flowers I fancy.

18193073_1471312062925639_961007156078068381_o