Dandelions and spirituality

by Archie Dunlop on May 14, 2013

Dandelion by Jon SullivanI’d never thought about dandelions before.  They are yellow flowers, that have fine seeds, which form a soft, dome-like structure.  And as every child knows, when you blow on the dome the seeds go everywhere.

However if you look at the etymology of the word ‘dandelion’, you get a different picture.  It’s from the French, ‘dent de lion’, which means ‘tooth of a lion’.  Apparently dandelion leaves are shaped like lions’ teeth, though you also get a picture of something very resilient, which is what dandelions are.  They embed themselves in people’s lawns, their mass of green leaves supported by a tough root system.  To get rid of them you need to dig, poison or burn.

Last weekend I was mowing the lawn.  Believe it or not, this was the first time in my life that I had ever used a lawnmower.  I suppose no-one had trusted me before, to do something so dangerous.  Though actually it seemed pretty safe.  I was wearing goggles, ear protectors and a sun-hat, and the mower had a dead-man’s handle, so if I collapsed with a heart attack the engine would immediately cut off.

As I was mowing the weed-cratered lawn, I had the opportunity to run over numerous dandelions.  They stand proud, laden with seeds, as the mower bears down on them.  As the mower makes its final approach, as the dandelion stares death in the face, the hot air from the engine hits the seed-dome, and then right in front of my eyes the dome disappears, the seeds scattering into the ether.

The dandelion’s work is done.  In death it creates the beginnings of new life.  It was rather like the statue of the Buddha in Afghanistan, which the Taliban blew up.  They could destroy the physical object, but each grain of dust that was blasted  into the atmosphere bore with it the wisdom of the Enlightened One.

However on the face of it the dandelion analogy has its limits.  When I mow over a dandelion, I’m not actually killing it.  The roots and the lower leaves remain, and all I’ve done is knocked off a temporary adornment.  Yet isn’t life a temporary adornment? One day we’re standing on an earthy lawn, and the next day we’re mowed down.  That reminds me of the traditional symbolism of the tarot card Death.  The symbol of Death is a skeletal figure with a scythe, mowing the heads of us humans.  Some of us are kings, others are peasants, and all of us are going to die.

The hard root of the dandelion, which the mower can’t kill, is like the soul.  As one of its flowers dies, another grows up.  It’s perhaps a series of incarnations, which only  ends when someone gets a spade and digs the whole thing up.  Then the soul itself must move on, confident that it’s done its job.  Or maybe the whole cycle has finished, and the dandelion has reached nirvana.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Aer May 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Good post, I really like dandelions and marigolds. This post is very fascinating and actually has sort of given me a “lift” spiritually. I was having some doubts about spirituality, for some reason reading this helped a good deal.

Archie Dunlop May 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Aer,

Thank you for visiting my website, and I’m glad by post did some good. Most of us have doubts, I think, and maybe the cyclic nature of nature can bring us down to earth, and help us to connect with out roots. I got a lift from your comment!

Aer May 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Thank you Archie! I hope to take a clinical pastoral education soon, and have been studying all sorts of different spiritual beliefs and some non-spiritual paths too, and I guess I got a bit over loaded at the time. For a Cancerian, I am oddly unemotional, I believe the Aquarius moon and Sag rising has a lot to do with that. I’m am definitely happy you got a lift too! I noticed you are an astrologer, may I ask your sun sign?

Archie Dunlop May 27, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Aer,

I’m a Gemini. Yes, I’m an astrologer, and of course most of the articles on this website are about astrology. So, you’re about to train for the priesthood?

Aer May 28, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Archie, your articles are very interesting. I am wanting to become a non denomination, interfaith chaplain/counselor for either prisons or youth. I really want to help youngsters who are troubled like I was as a teen. I read through your Amanda Know/ OJ article. I thought it was odd that Ms.Knox was so far away from home with her being a crab, they usually are not as keen on travel, so I was thinking she had a Sagittarius moon? I have no idea on how to find out, but it’s a guess on my part.

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