As we saw in our fragrant bouquet of narcissus-infused perfume recommendations, the sunny, soul-brightening flowers have been inspiring perfumers for centuries. But do you know the full story of the intriguing myth behind the naming of the narcissus?
This fascinating tale is told beautifully on the blog of chelseaflower.co.uk:
‘Like many stories in Greek mythology, Narcissus was burdened early on by prophesy. A wise, blind seer by the name of Tiresias warned him that he’d live a very long time, so long as he never admired his reflection. Avoiding mirrors was difficult in an appearance-centric culture, but Narcissus managed to for a great deal of his life. However, he peered down into a pool of water as an adult, became captivated by his own reflection, and – depending on the version of the myth – he either wasted away while staring or slid into the pool and drowned. Either way, not exactly a happy ending to the story.’
The Flower and the Fable
‘So what does this surprisingly bleak story have to do with such a sunny flower? Daffodils, particularly wild ones, are often found at the edges of ponds, rivers, and streams, looking down into the waters below. As they age, wither, and die, the bowed head of the flower droops closer to its stem, appearing to look even more intently at the ground or the water near its roots.’
‘This subtle nod to Narcissus’ end caused the ancient Greeks to believe the Narcissus flower was the incarnation of the man himself, a beautiful but stark reminder to avoid vanity and stay focused on the world and people around you instead. In some versions of the myth, this cautionary hero gets a little more benefit-of-the-doubt, too: alternate versions indicate that he actually pined away missing his lost twin sister, and looked at his own reflection to see her features. This slightly sunnier version casts the bright flower in a better light: that of the enduring love for family, and the beauty of cherished memories.’
‘No matter which version of Narcissus’ tale the flower of the same name brings to mind, there’s one undeniable truth: it’s a beautiful bloom. Planted in spring gardens or presented as a fresh floral arrangement, the gorgeous mix of creamy white and yellow-red centres make a joyful bouquet for any gift-giving occasion. Plant narcissus bulbs before spring, and you’ll be able to enjoy a colourful show emerging as the snow and ice melt away…’
However you decide to celebrate this gorgeously cheering flower – wearing a fragrance that wafts the scent of it all day, or filling your home with happy-making vases of the blooms – we hope you find some sunshine that will keep us going until spring properly appears!
Written by Suzy Nightingale