So whilst I’ve been posting my animal dreaming posts I’ve also been working on some plant profiles/plant spirit posts. They will be coming soon but I felt moved to write and post one on the sunflower today, the summer solstice. Health reasons are keeping me inside during this lovely period of British weather (for once, not a sarcastic comment!) so I may also create some sunflower art today as a way of noting the longest day.
Here and yonder, high and low,
Goldenrod and sunflowers glow.
–Robert Kelley Weeks
The sunflower’s botanical name literally means sun flower and they are used over and over as a symbol of the sun. In peru, the sunflower was considered an image of their sun god. In the Rider Waite Smith tarot, the sun card includes a sunflower.
The most well known type of sunflower are tall, bright flowers with strong stems and ray like petals. These are happy looking plants which are often grown by children. As the plants grow, they turn to face the sun, tracking with it as it moves across the sky. This stops once they have bloomed and they generally face east as mature flowers, welcoming the sun each morning. We too, should look to the light, literally and figuratively.
There is something so beautiful and wondrous about the sunflower, there is nothing being hidden by them, they are what they seem. This isn’t to disparage them and suggest there are no hidden depths, more to acknowledge the confidence required to put your authentic, full self on display.
They have been cultivated for over 5000 years and are grown both for their beauty and their usefulness. Their abundance of seeds, considered a sacred food by some north american tribes, can be eaten raw or roasted, they can be ground into a flour for making bread. They can be used as bird feed, to grow more sunshine and they are rich in useful oil. The oil from the seeds can be used for cooking as well as to moisturise skin and hair. Flowers can be used to make yellow dye and the seeds apparently produce a blue or black dye. The stems of the plants do not go unused and are fed to cattle and used as fuel. All of the sunflower is used to create in one way or another.
In flower giving lore, to give someone a sunflower says “my eyes see only you”, in the same way that the sunflower sees only the sun, the giver sees only the recipient. I suspect most people would see this as a romantic gesture but for me it feels a bit too intense… Whilst the light of the sun is vital to us and whilst I am an advocate of looking to and for the light, I do not want only the sun. Without the moon I would become unbalanced. In the same way, being admired so singularly would overwhelm me and leave me feeling cut off from others. If the sunflower has been gifted to you, by another person or by the universe, it may be time to look at your relationships. We cannot be sustained and entirely ourselves if we rely on one person or relate primarily with one person. We are many faceted beings who turn to different people for our needs.
A while back I asked myself, what does the sun mean to me, and this feels like a potent time to think about that a bit further. For me, whilst I resonate more with the moon, the sun has a major impact on my wellbeing. I experience Seasonal Affective Disorder so am quite sensitive to the light levels, or lack thereof. The sun can also bring with it warmth which can help my pain levels but worsen my other conditions. Despite that, I would much rather be warm than cold! The sun, to me, is a powerful being, creating and sustaining life, providing us with fuel. So powerful is the sun that it creates our seasons. It is the base of all life, our life force. It feels like an assertive, intense entity which brings clarity and visibility.
The sun is associated with the astrological sign of Leo and the traits of this sign echo some of what I have already said. It is bright, fiery, passionate, out there, cheerful and expressive. There is a sense of dominance, you cannot easily hide from the sun. In many cultures, not all, the sun is a masculine figure with the moon as the feminine.
We owe a lot to the sun but like anything, there is a necessary balance. The gravity of the sun keeps us in orbit but too much pull or too little would throw us out of balance. The sun warms us and creates life but can also burn us and destroy. Do not underestimate this powerful star.
How are you paying homage to the sun on this, the longest day?
None of the above should be considered medical advice, do not eat anything unless you’ve done your research. Plants go by different names in different places and have different properties at different times of year. Some of the possible uses of this plant have come from folklore and should not be taken as fact.