Signs and symbols
Les chutes de La Puce
Source: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada/George Heriot Collection/Acquisition 1989-471-04/c012720
Nature is filled with marvels: precious gems that dazzle and sparkle, scented flowers that come in a multitude of shapes, aromatic and medicinal herbs, and magnificent, tall trees that provide protection. These masterpieces have been admired down through time. Over the centuries, they have been assigned magical powers and perceived as symbols.
Under the general theme of Signs and symbols, this series of chronicles gives you an opportunity to enter the universe of nature and learn about the meanings of the marvels it offers us.
What are the virtues and meanings of trees, flowers, herbs and gems? What astrological links bind you to them? You might just take a completely new look at nature!
Click on a title to access an episode or to close the tab.
What wood do you heat with?
Un orme sur le chemin Royal
Source: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada/1997-91-9/c004060
Traditional astrology is based on the stars. Since the dawn of time, wise men have been studying the heavens and nature, looking for an explanation of life. For some, astrology is of little importance, but for others it fills an essential role in their lives.
For different peoples, nature gives meaning to life. For example, in the case of the Amerindians, an animal emblem corresponds to a birth date. On the other hand, trees lie at the heart of Celtic culture. Twenty-one symbols, represented by trees, form the basis of Celtic astrology. A person born under a particular sign receives the characteristics and the protection of the corresponding tree.
Do you know what tree corresponds to your birthday and what it means?
What wood do you heat with?
|Hornbeam||Good taste||December 2-11, June 4-13|
|Fig tree||Sensitivity||December 12-21, June 14-23|
|Apple tree||Love||December 23 to January 1, June 25 to July 4|
|Fir||Mystery||January 2-11, July 5-14|
|Elm||Generosity||January 12-24, July 15-25|
|Jack Pine||Faithfulness||January 25 to February 3, July 26 to August 4|
|Poplar||Uncertainty||February 4-8, May 1-14, August 5-13|
|Cedar||Confidence||February 9-18, August 14-23|
|Pine||The individual||February 19-29, August 24 to September 2|
|Weeping Willow||Melancholy||March 1-10, September 3-12|
|Linden||Doubt||March 11-20, September 13-22|
|Hazelnut||The extraordinary||March 22-31, September 24 to October 3|
|Cornel tree||Daintiness||April 1-10, October 4-13|
|Maple||Independence of mind||April 11-20, October 14-23|
|Walnut||Passion||April 21-30, October 24 to November 11|
|Chestnut||Honesty||May 15-24, November 12-21|
|Ash||Ambition||May 25 to June 3, November 22 to December 1|
|Olive tree||Wisdom||September 23|
To learn more about the meanings attributed to natural objects, we invite you to come back on June 12, 2007.
For the love of roses
Source: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada/Acquisition 1973-25-16/c094581
Of the thousands of flowers that exist on our planet the rose is certainly the most appreciated and best loved. The word “rose” comes from the Greek “rhodon”, based on the name of the Island of Rhodes where this flower grows abundantly. It was on this island that Venus and Apollo lived in love. It is for this reason that the rose is often associated with love and female beauty.
This remarkable flower is admired for its grace, elegance, delicateness, and exquisite perfume. Known as the queen of flowers, the rose has been cultivated since very ancient times. In the East, roses decorated gardens 5000 years before Jesus Christ.
In the fifth century before our time, the Persians cultivated this flower on a large scale to make rose water. King Cyrus II made the rose the symbol of his power.
In the case of the Greeks, the rose was dedicated to Harpocrates, the god of silence. The Latin expression sub rosa (under the rose) is used to evoke something mysterious and secret.
For the Romans, roses were very luxurious products. During banquets, ceilings were covered with roses to provide a pleasing view for those who lay on sofas below. Rose petals were also strewn on floors to make a pretty carpet. From April to May, the rose was at the heart of the floral games held to honor Flora, the goddess of flowers and gardens.
Throughout the Middle Ages, this flower spread through the West. During this period, interest in ornamental flowers was not widespread, with the exception of the rose, which was grown for its beauty and its perfume, as well as for its healing properties.
Today, the rose is the flower that is given most often as a token of love and friendship. Each rose sends a specific message, depending on its color. If you want to give someone roses, learn their language...
|Burgundy red:||love, respect|
|Orangey red:||courage, passion|
|Yellow:||joy, gaiety, freedom, friendship|
|Pale pink:||sweetness, tenderness, gentleness|
|Dark pink:||gratitude, appreciation|
|White:||purity, innocence, grace, secrecy|
|Lavender:||enchantment, fairy magic, mystery|
|Black:||life, fecundity, evolution, fertility|
|Orange/red:||confidence in yourself, in others|
To learn more about signs and symbols, we invite you to come back on June 26, 2007.
- FORTIN, Daniel. Roses et rosiers pour le Québec et l’est du Canada, Saint-Laurent, Éditions du Trécarré, 1991, p. 17-39.
- Rose Drummond, pour les significations.
Croquis de végétaux
Source: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada/George Back Fonds/Acquisition 1995-102-46/c093027
Aromatic herbs have been decorating gardens for a very long time. They are generally cultivated to enhance dishes, treat ills and even to make cosmetics and perfumes.
The oldest western herbariuim, De Materia medica, was written over two thousand years ago. In that work, the Greek physician Dioscorides describes the medicinal properties of hundreds of plants and flowers and aromatic herbs occupy an important place in this work.
From the time of Antiquity, fine herbs have been grown abundantly in gardens. They were grown for their therapeutic value as well as for decoration. Magical powers were often attributed to herbs. Some even served as talismans.
Most of the herbs that are found in our kitchens today were already known in the Middle Ages. The Benedictine monks, who specialized in gardening, honored the growing of aromatic and medicinal herbs. For their part, the apothecaries studied the therapeutic effects, extracting oils from herbs in order to produce salves and scented pomades.
In New France, herbs were harvested and hung from the rafters in the attic to be stored during the winter. Today, thanks to truck farmers and large distributors, a large variety of fresh herbs can be purchased year round.
As in the case of flowers, aromatic herbs are associated with specific symbols. When you stroll through the garden, take in the pleasant odors or pick up a few strands and taste them. Perhaps you’ll enjoy the beneficial effects...
|Tarragon:||Calm and rest|
|Thyme:||Strength, courage and bravery|
|Sage:||Immortality and longevity|
|Rosemary:||Memory and remembrance|
|Chervil:||Resurrection and rejuvenation|
|Laurel:||Victory and glory|
|Dill:||Protection and vitality|
To learn more about the meanings given to natural objects, we invite you to return on July 10, 2007.
A Stone for Every Month
Water colour on ivory: Queen Victoria
Source: Library and Archives Canada/Lord Strathcona miniatures collection/Acquisition 1959-1-6/c130582
Sometimes you have to dig to find treasures buried in the ground. Forged in the rock over millennia, magnificent precious and fine stones can be extracted from the soil. There are about one hundred fine or semi-precious stones in the world, while only four are classified as precious: the diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald.
For a very long time, these stones have caught people’s eyes as a result of their brilliance, their transparency and their rarity. As early as 3,000 years B.C., the Sumerians were interested in such stones and developed goldsmithery.
During the Greek and Roman Antiquity, these stones were associated with religions. Each divinity was associated with a telluric power. The Greeks believed that diamonds were fragments of the sky that had fallen to earth. The more mystical referred to them as “tears of the gods”.
In the Middle Ages, angels and saints were associated with stones. Thus, the sapphire was St. Andrew’s stone and jasper was St. Peter’s stone. The origins of these associations remain obscure. Unlike the symbols attached to colors, animals or numbers, goldsmiths paid little attention to the symbols of stones in their religious works. One exception is the amethyst, which is found on the pastoral rings of bishops and cardinals.
On the fringes of medicine, religion and magic, popular beliefs attributed virtues and powers to both simple minerals and precious stones. For example, certain stones have healing powers. They can be placed on the body of ill people to heal them.
A language and a code developed around stones. Today, these symbols are still in effect. There is a stone for every month. Discover your birthstone and its language and combine beauty and virtue... Maybe you’ll learn something about your personality
|January:||Garnet||Fidelity and constancy|
|March:||Aquamarine||Youthfulness of heart|
|April:||Diamond||Strength and patience|
|May:||Emerald||Maturity, self-control, inner security and abundance|
|June:||Pearl||Gentleness and inner stability|
|July:||Ruby||Goodness, liberty, authority and dignity|
|August:||Peridot||Wisdom and development of mental abilities|
|September:||Sapphire||Happiness (especially in conjugal relations)|
|October:||Opal||Amplifies the feminine nature of a being|
|November:||Topaz||Wisdom, clarity and life|
|December:||Turquoise||Sense of infinity (holiness, purity of heaven, etc.)|
This ends our series of chronicles on Signs and symbols.