Sex! Now that I have your attention, we can explore the festival of Floralia, which is held between April 28th and May 3rd, symbolizing the renewal of the cycle of life, and kicking off our Beltane celebrations.
It is celebrated with flowers, drinking, hunting, games, and sex. See, it didn’t take me long to get around to that, did it? Flora is the goddess of flowers and blossoms generally, and of the blossoms of youth and its pleasures in particular.
Floralia has been celebrated since 240 BC at Flora’s dedicated temples. With the men decked in flowers, and women dressed in bright colours, the festival would go on for 5 days with symbolic over-sized phalluses used as props in elaborate games of pornographic charades, with a sixth day spent playing at hunting, with goats and hares bred for the purpose being provided in the temple grounds for easy targets. Roses and elderflowers were the favoured blossoms.
Flora’s Fluid Fancy
1 shot of St Germaine elderflower liqueur
1 shot of Creme de Violette
Juice of an orange (I am using blood oranges)
Juice of a lime
Lavender syrup or lavender flowers
If you are using lavender flowers, muddle them with the juices then shake them together. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake again with ice, and dispense into a chilled glass. If you are using lavender syrup, add a dash to the juices before you shake.
I garnished this with edible cornflower petals and a slice of lime.
Thanks to John Moseley for bringing blood oranges to the party.
If you want to make it really in keeping with the occasion, you can buy swizzle sticks in the shape of penises online or from party goods stores – intended for hen parties, they also work for Floralia.
Another god who is celebrated at this time of year when the spring moves toward summer, is the horned god of the wild wood- Faunus. Associated with the wolf because of his sharp teeth, he is known for his powers of prophecy and his fertility.
In England, the bluebells are coming out in the woods just now, so if you get the chance to go and potentially commune with both Flora and Faunus then go to it. Even if you don’t have any real woods near you, the smallest parks or hedged areas become wild at night.
As the light fades, any landscape will transform and change aspect until it can become completely strange. Sigmund Freuds theory of the uncanny is perfectly apt here as it specifies “What was once familiar, become unfamiliar”. While this can inspire dread very quickly, it can also be exciting, as the mysterious takes over from the mundane.
Wild woods and supernatural entities which seem very unreal during daylight hours become far more plausible as dark comes on and the trees and plants take on new and magical life.
Without taking any unnecessary risks, do try the experiment of entering a space you usually experience by daylight at night, and open yourself to its possibilities. Whether you walk in a garden or duck behind a street hedge for a while, it’s exciting to feel yourself to be a creature of the dark and the night.
If you’re in a quiet place, you will begin to hear all kinds of rustlings and whisperings as the environment adjusts to your presence.
Who knows what you will see or hear… The Loathsome Lambton Worm? Poe’s Raven, or a Monstrous Crow? Luminescent tree snails, the size of your fist? Faunus himself – horned and predatory? (Traditionally Faunus would send prophetic dreams to those who slept in his sacred places on the fleeces of sacrificed lambs, so wrapping yourself in a sheepskin jacket and having a catnap might yield interesting results).
Churchyards are thrilling places to walk quietly at night, especially when the statues seem to take on a life of their own.
Or perhaps a Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, will come whiffling through the tulgy wood, “which burbled as it came”?
Become a part of the night for a while, and find out what lies in the dark.