The In-Your-Face Flower of the Survivor

By Phila Hoopes

Pretty soon we’ll be seeing them popping up all over our lawns and green spaces…and sidewalks, and walls: the buoyant, radiant yellow faces and lush, verdant leaves of newly-sprouted dandelions.

What do you do when you see them? Smile at the cheerful rays of unruly, resilient Nature stubbornly setting down roots and blooming wherever their seed has fallen? Do you eagerly harvest them for tonic, tea, salad, or wine? Or do you groan and grumble – “Dammit, need to get more Roundup for those weeds!”

That, my friends, is why the dandelion is one of the cover images for Survivors’ Haven.

But you might ask – Isn’t claiming a weed as your symbol invoking lower energies? Now if it were a beautiful rose coming out of the sidewalk —!!!

But that’s not the point.

Just look at the perfect roses in a florist’s shop: gorgeous, aphrodisiacally fragrant, extravagantly pricey symbols of true love, undying passion, all those …megastar… qualities. They’re the supermodel divas of the flower world, and equally high-maintenance:  ultra-hybridized and vulnerable to excessive heat, cold, drought, damp, blight, mildew, Japanese beetles and more.

And then there’s the dandelion. Crayon-yellow flowers that spring up tall, then huddle into the grass – or sidewalk crack – after the first lawnmower pass. Spiky leaves that gum up scissor blades…juicy stems that ooze all over your hands…a root that goes on forever…seedheads that scatter on the slightest breeze. They’re in your face, authentic, adaptable, and determined to set down root and flourish even in the poorest pinch of soil. They were so ubiquitous, so….weedy…that they didn’t even rate a mention in the Victorian language of flowers…despite their millennia-long track record among herbalists and indigenous peoples.

Where roses are the flower of nature controlled and commodified by humans, dandelions are the flower of nature in her own exuberant, healing power:

And that’s the point.

In a society that values the externals, that puts a premium on airbrushed supermodels and commodified natural products…that discounts the unstandardizable gifts of intuition, empathy, and mysticism…that shames and pathologizes and medicates children and adults who fall outside of the norm – all those “weeds” disrupting controllable social uniformity! – the treasure in the “weed,” its intrinsic value and importance in the natural balance, is lost….

“Since the Dandelion can thrive in difficult conditions, it is no wonder that people say the flower symbolizes the ability to rise above life’s challenges.” –

Because the importance of the natural balance is lost. The indigenous societies, in which each person, plant, animal, stone is seen as having a purpose and role to play, have been drowned out in the roar of commerce, in which everything comes down to a dollar sign.  What do you earn, what does it cost, how much revenue can it bring in?

And how much does our society lose as a result? Between “weed” and “worthy” – it’s all a matter of perspective. Listen to the apparent problem closely enough and you may find it offers a bigger solution. Listen to the traumatized, repressed child within and you may find s/he carries long-forgotten gifts.

How many of us here, seeing our looks, our gifts, our perspectives, not fitting into the norm, have allowed ourselves to be treated as weeds…have trashed ourselves, or allowed ourselves to be trashed as unacceptable or useless?

How many of us have undertaken personal journeys of self-discovery and healing that led us to find our deeper value, the healing nutrients in our stubborn roots, the rich sustaining pollen in our crown?

And how many of us have reinvented ourselves again and again, refusing to give up, learning new lessons, gaining new gifts to share each time?

No question that roses are glorious and inspiring; around the world they have earned a beautiful and time-honored place in art and culture. But the dandelion – that’s the stubborn, resilient flower of the survivor.


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