Burn with undying devotion

photo by JAMILA

photo by JAMILA

Behold the light emanating from this crocus!

A flower of devotion.

It is a genus of flowering plants in the iris family hosting 90+ species, most well-known for the Crocus sativus variety which produces the coveted spice, saffron. Its cultivation is documented as far back as the Bronze Age as seen in Aegean frescos showing girls and monkeys harvesting the flowers. Cave art in modern-day Iraq shows the use of saffron-based pigment. Bath queen Cleopatra added saffron to her soaking toilette, reportedly before receiving men to enhance lovemaking’s pleasures. Conflicting reports tell of the spice’s journey throughout Asia. Cuisine across the Mediterranean makes use of the bitter spice. Greek legends tell of brave sailors traveling far and wide for the most potent stuff, most popularly surmised in the story of Crocus and Smilax: irresistible nymph Smilax indulges the fawning youth Crocus briefly, eventually rejecting him with a sort of love spell that transforms him into a crocus, his burning stigmas displaying his undying devotion.

Saffron’s history is the stuff of complex human devotion to ritual substance. The saffron crocus is a biological anomaly amongst its peers, for most crocuses do not contain orange saffron stigmas, just the common yellow stigmas. Yet the name Crocus is still applied to all of the flowers in the genus, a name loaded with the energy of devotion despite the common crocus’ lack of “burning stigmas.” Though this might be altogether quite apt. Crocuses are most popularly associated with springtime, typically being the first flowers to appear. Sometimes they flower as early as late winter amidst melting snow, signaling that winter is, indeed, ending.

Their resilience and enthusiasm is, in essence, a form of devotion. Devotion to life, to growth, to regeneration in spite of whatever hindrances remain. Crocus knows that he doesn’t have to wait for his love to change back her mind. He loves for love’s sake. Nor must he wait for winter’s snow to vanish for it to be spring. By growing forth, he creates the spring.

 

I am coming out.

I want the world to know.

I am here to grow.

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