Flowers are at the heart of my art. It is a delight to explore the mythological dimensions of Flora, Roman goddess of flowers, love and springtime, in this portfolio, Unveiling the Divine Feminine.
I photograph flowers in the wild and in the garden. I have studied, made and worked with flower essences, an energetic form of healing. I have created my own garden. Flowers have woven their way around my soul.
In Flora I focus on occidental mythology which is my birth right and the fabric of story in my background. I was born on the last day of winter in a year with an early spring and lived as an infant in a cottage on Otter Street in Banff next door to Charlie Watt, the head gardener at Cascade Gardens. Charlie cultivated an enormous vegetable garden in his back yard growing everything from corn to asparagus. To my mother Norah he gave asparagus fern for decoration and kidded her on her lack of practicality.
We moved to Wolverine Street when I was three or four. My Mother now had her own garden, but she grew flowers. Nasturtiums cascaded in golden glory from stone planters, delphinium stood proudly in front of the redwood fence, bleeding heart guarded the stone stairs to the back yard and a flowering tree graced the view from each bedroom. Soon I was allowed to play in the woods across the street, crawling through the grass to find the tiny, heavenly sweet, wild strawberries.
I introduced myself to crocus, bluebells, lady's slippers, paintbrush, lilies, shooting star on the slopes of Tunnel Mountain.
Although she never talked about it in this way, I think for my Mother gardens and flowers were a glorious luxury. She grew up in Edinburgh and often spoke about the magnificent formal Princes Street Gardens beneath the looming walls of Edinburgh Castle. I thought Princes Street was named Princess Street, as perhaps it should be, but I never heard her mention a private garden in her childhood. My Mother also taught me her love and skill of storytelling. She came from a world where the mythology of fairies and other worldly creatures was dense and rich. I knew her life, her family, and her background through these stories.
My greatest love is for the stories: the intoxicating unwritten ones of scent, shape, and colour, the historic sagas of plant migration, mutating landscape, and changing fortunes which mirror so closely our own peccadilloes as a species, the stories of healing which exist in every culture. Above all I love the myths which personify our hopes, dreams, needs and desires. These remind us of our larger than human dimension and help us envision a bright future.
Flora’s Dance Romneya Poppies Carole Harmon, 2010 edition 1/7 archival pigment print 24” X 24” framed 36” X 36”
Notes on the Goddesses
Flora was the Roman Goddess of flowers, spring, and love who was married to Favonius, god of the wind. In Greek myth she was Chloris. Astarte was an ancient goddess of sexuality and war who came to earth as a flaming star. She was known as Ishtar in Mesopotamia and Aphrodite in Greece. Demeter was a Greek goddess of the harvest, marriage, sacred law, and the cycle of life and death; a central figure in the Eleusian Mysteries with Persephone her daughter. The Eleusian Mysteries were yearly initiation ceremonies designed to unite the initiates with the gods and gain rewards in the afterlife. Persephone was stolen by Hades and became his consort. Her rescue by Hermes marked the beginning of the cycle of the seasons for Persephone ate of the seed of the pomegranate and thus must return each year to join Hades. In earlier myths Persephone was the dreaded Queen of the Underworld.
Hecate was a chtonic Greco/Roman goddess associated with the liminal areas of crossroads, thresholds, magic and the underworld. In early myths it is she who rescued Persephone from the underworld. Primavera is another name for the goddess of the spring and the perfection of nature. Brighid , “bright Goddess of the Gael”, is the goddess of healers, poets, smiths, childbirth and inspiration. She is still said to hover over every cradle. These goddesses are described in the historical sense but their energy and spirit are with us today.