Turning Light Into Poppies

botanical tarot deck cards

The Ophidia Rosa Tarot centers upon transformation: the conversion of seed into bloom, the movement of crescent bodies into full moons, and the renewal of childlike wonder from weary, full-grown forms. It's a very visceral form of Tarot, and one that requires digging deep into the garden, with all the twists, turns, dirt, and worms one might encounter amid the thorns, seeds, and leaves.

In honor of and inspired by the Ophidia Rosa this week, I wanted to share a favorite form of transformation, one that I continue to learn from, in and out of the garden, that shapes my being and my art: the conversion of seed into bloom. It is among the most wondrous, imaginative and accessible ways to connect with nature: to witness the magic of plants unfold before our eyes. A humble packet of seeds is all one needs, sunlight, water and a vessel to enjoy its unfolding.

Nestled by three windows, my seedlings and plants balance on sills and chairs, soaking in every last bit of sun until late-April’s warmth greets them outdoors. The Poppy's journey always stands out, and no matter how many times or how many years I've sown Poppy seeds, it always takes me by surprise when sprouts begin to peek out of the soil. Perhaps it's that their seeds are so very tiny and delicate, or that I always start my Poppies indoors to be planted in pots outside, when they grow best sown directly into the ground. Whichever it is, I continue to find myself mystified by these seedlings and enchanted when their most treasured blooms pop.

poppy garden

Turning Poppies Into More Poppies

This season I'm growing several Poppy varieties : Icelandic, Shirley, Breadseed and California, each unique and lovely in their own right.

I've long enjoyed the Breadseed Poppy (Remember Dreams in the Maiden Oracle), who flowers so exquisitely and whose petals drop off leaving behind a most magical Pod. Icelandic Poppies always come to my mind when I think of these flowers. To me, they're a classic, quintessential Poppy bloom: bright, colorful, and serene, with delicate, fanned petals and curved stems that give them the appearance of dancing among wind gusts. They immediately put me at peace, and watching them cascade in the garden instantly settles my sometimes-frazzled mind. Shirley Poppies are perhaps the most stunning of these varieties, with gorgeous tones and multi-layered petals. They're utterly bewitching and making little garden bouquets with them is a favorite activity around here. This will be the first year I grow California Poppy, and I'm very excited to meet this new-to-my-garden variety in real life. I'll let you know how we get on when the time comes.

Now that we've introduced the varieties, let us meet the seedlings...

poppy tarot card

Turning Light Into Seeds

More than blooms and the fruits they come to bear, seeds themselves have inspired my journey. While they oft-represent new beginnings, there were ways, of course, for plants to thrive before seeds, as well. Ferns, for example, the one-celled ancestor to the heartier seed, are born of spores, a form of plant life that requires very specific, moist, shady conditions to sprout. In order for plants to travel and reside outside the comfortable shadows of places such as a Spring bog, they needed a stronger coat, multiple cells, and even a food source within the seed itself to help the young plant take root among the fray.

The Fern, in many ways, inhabits my younger self, gazing out in bright green at a world full of opportunity, yet set back in a grove of self-doubt and fear. In fact, the Fern was one of my favorite plants back then and still is, while now a heartier center has evolved within my heart. My inner-growth feels protected, nourished, and ready for outer-growth to be seen across a wider landscape.  Poppies, Roses, Peonies, Foxglove, and too many plants to count have become a part of my world since I have ventured out in the last 8 years. The formation of the seed, a resilient, independent form of propagation resonates so deeply along this exploration of self, as seeds bring the chance for growth from close to home to anywhere.

They can sprout from a tree on a snowy mountaintop to the water-starved desert, and from the ocean floor to a pot in my bedroom by a window pierced by golden light.

poppy garden