The humble pansy. How could you not be taken in by its smiling, happy face? The pansy is also an historic and storied plant. As such, it brings a treasure trove of spiritual and symbolic meaning. In addition to any omens or metaphysical meanings, the pansy also has a rich folklore surrounding it.
What Are Pansies?
You’d think that would be an easy question. But it’s not. After all, pansies have been cultivated (at least) since the early 1800s. Before that, people across parts of Europe and Asia had admired the wild flowers that went into creating the pansy. The domestic pansy is a hybrid of species from the wildflower genus “Viola”. Nowadays, though, pansies are well defined domestic flowers with a variety of colors brought about through selective breeding and hybridization.
The pansy, and also the wild viola, has a number of common names. But of all the possible names we could have picked for this cute little flower, we went with the French one—”pensée“. Which, converted into English became “pansy”. Pensée simply means “thought”. Who could deny that such a name is perfect for the pansy? After all, its appearance is thought-provoking to be sure.
As such, the pansy conveys to us an important message of introspective, creative, and free thought. If you feel the pansy has come to you with a message, then it could be time to think about how much time you spend thinking. It’s easy to live life on autopilot—working, Facebooking, sleeping, repeat. Day after day. Break that cycle and really think about yourself, other people, topics you find interesting—let your thought take you on an adventure.
Perhaps you’ll find thinking a lot easier with a dandy pansy to look at while you do it?
Pansy – Flower With a Face
And when you are looking at that pansy, you’ll likely find it hard to deny—the pansy is a flower with a face. That’s part of what makes it such a thought-provoking partner. It’s almost as if the pansy lives in your mind with you, existing as the eager listener for your thoughts.
Moreover, the pansy is said to smile. So, of course, it gives to us a spiritual message of smiling friendship. Like the pansy, spare a smile and make a day—remember the humanity within every single person you meet. Be empathetic.
Pansy Symbol of Love
The pansy’s face is what really drives home its core spiritual meaning, though. Its flower, and so its face, is all about love. But, we know, there are so many different kinds of love. Think of a red rose, it stands for passionate, intimate love. Whereas, the pansy symbolizes a calm, soothing, caring love—it stands for face-to-face love. Sure, you can take that to mean a certain position. Cough, cough. But, it’s most appropriate for two people sitting together and talking—they could be lovers or friends, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the conversation is good, each person loves the other and both person’s focus is on the other person.
Ancient Roman Love
The ancient Romans also held up the pansy as a symbol of love. Well, not the pansy exactly. Rather, its wild forbearer, the viola.
According to their belief, Cupid—standing for desire, attraction and passionate love—transformed the viola (wild pansy) into a flower of impassioned love. Cupid shot one of his famous arrows at the imperial votaress. But, he missed. Instead, the arrow pierced the bloom of a wild viola! As such, the viola’s juices forever took on cupid’s properties and, they believed, could be used in love potions.
If you are a February baby, then you’ll be happy to know that the pansy is your birth flower. While it doesn’t make a great cut flower on account of being small and having short stems, it is a good choice for a growing basket, tub, or pot. Therefore, it can still be gifted to your February-birthday friends and they’ll likely be happy to receive it. Furthermore, as an annual, you’re not burdening the recipient with the lifelong responsibility of a perennial houseplant or a fruit tree sapling.
Pansies & Color
Color is rife with spiritual meaning. Just look at the understanding of the body’s chakras and the colors that represent them (check out our free comprehensive guide to balancing your chakras here). The same goes for spiritual thought no matter the belief system. For example, the Catholics reserve purple for Lent and Advent—it represents solemn sorrow. Whereas, orange is famously the chosen color of the Theravada Buddhists of Southeast Asia.
So, you might be wondering, what does color mean when it comes to pansies? Well, the answer is complicated because, thankfully, horticulturalists have developed a huge range of different colored pansies. Purple pansies are a common sight, whereas yellow with a brown face is another popular variety. Don’t forget though, there are also white pansies. In fact, there are even totally black pansies.
So here’s a quick cheat sheet for the meaning of pansy colors:
- Blue pansies
These symbolize calmness, serenity, and peace against worry and woe. Also, lighter shades of blue—cerulean, for example—point to the heavens. A plant, grown from the earth, but bearing celestial color is a reminder of the link between Heaven and Earth.
- Purple pansies
Purple is, of course, a quite regal color. Therefore, it represents wealth and power. But, it’s more than that—because it also stands for the ability to navigate the different challenges that being wealthy and powerful present.
- White pansies
White flowers are undoubtedly pure and innocent—they represent a fresh, simple, and uncomplicated beauty. However, white flowers can present us with challenging feelings. They are typically used as a symbol of peace in the afterlife, a gift for the recently bereaved.
- Yellow pansies
Yellow pansies are all about joy; unshakable, unbridled, unapologetic happiness. Sure, all yellow flowers stand for joy. However, the yellow pansy is in a class of its own when it comes to happiness. This is an account of its perpetual smile.
King Arthur’s Knights
Did you know that you can use pansies to tell the future? Well, that’s what King Arthur’s famous Knights of the Round Table believed.
King Arthur’s Knights believed that if you plucked a single petal from a pansy, that its veins would tell the future. For example, four lines meant you could be hopeful about the future. Whereas, if the lines were thick and veered to the left, then one would be in for a woeful time! Conversely, if the veins pointed in the opposite direction, then prosperity and abundance was to come your way!