My story contribution to the Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico Anthology, Volume 2—For Love of a Brystile Witch—involves a hereditary witch for whom fate brings the last living male descendant of the judge who condemned her grandmother, of 10 generations in the past, to hang as a witch. In creating the heroine’s home, I drew upon three of my personal interests, which are paganism, witchcraft, and medicinal herbal lore. I have an extensive collection of resources on these subjects and, some of what I know, I learned first-hand from my maternal grandfather. Although it was never said outright, as I look back on my childhood and teen years, I realize my grandfather was probably a solitary practitioner of 'pagan' beliefs. As a youngster, I knew the community thought he was odd and eccentric, but they seemed to accept his oddness with amused acceptance.
Although the flowers have a light, barely discernible scent, cosmos are not for picking or confining in a vase in the middle of the dining room table on display. These flowers are free spirits meant to be treasured in their natural environment. They are a silent flower, meaning they make no sound in the wind when they rub against each other—they keep your secrets.
The word 'cosmos' derives from the Greek 'kosmos', which means order and harmony and also 'the world'. Cosmos are considered group flowers because each individual flower grows close to its neighbor to offer the strength of community effort to withstand the onslaught of the wind. To take this farther, cosmos flowers embody a balance of the magical elements of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, in that order, and here is why...
At its heart, the cosmos is a flower of the wind. It thrives in windy conditions, which makes it a perfect prairie flower, which is where I live. It is a tall plant that reaches toward the sky and will often grow to chest high, especially the pastels of the pink, purple, red, and white varieties. The orange variety, which is my favorite, has a different leaf structure from the pastels and does not grow as tall. All colors of flower heads sway in a graceful dance in the tiniest of breezes. The stalks are flexible, yet strong enough to withstand even strong winds. The foliage is fernlike, which gives it an airy quality. The blossoms, though delicate, flutter with the wind rather than take succumb to the wind's battering. The seeds are well-adapted to blowing in the wind for distribution.
Cosmos thrive in hot, sun-beaten conditions with little shade or even a lack of shade. It seems they 'look' for places to grow that expose them to the heat and light of the sun without even the tiniest hope respite from the heat. In the wild, cosmos choose to thrive in dry and sunbaked, ground, and they prosper during the hottest, driest time of the year, which is during the height of the summer and into early autumn. The blossoms expand up and then outwards in the manner of the sun's rays. The centers of each flower are dark to flame-yellow, and the blossoms tend to orient their faces towards the sun. When the woody stems dry after frost, they can be used as fire-starter material.
The main stem of the cosmos flower appears spindly and willowy, but are actually thick, tough, and woody. They have a strong connection to the Earth element because of their expansive root system, which is in counterbalance to their tall, branching stems, thus allowing the plant to resist uprooting by wind.
Because the cosmos plant is made up of thin, flat, dry-to-the-feel leaves with stems that offer minimal area for transpiration or moisture retention, and that the plant physically needs little water to thrive, the element of Water is the lesser of the elemental attributes. However, when water is available, the cosmos takes full advantage and does not waste a drop. Since the cosmos is in full bloom in the late summer/early autumn and is considered an autumn flower, the Water element is actually strong in it because the ancient Celtic calendar associates autumn with the element of Water.
Sadly, my cosmos patches have all but dried up as we move farther into the autumn season. I'll wait until spring arrives to pull up the old stalks to make way for the new sprouts, because many 'critters' find shelter throughout the winter in the dense midst of the flower beds.
Until next month,
Fall in love...faster, harder, deeper with Kaye Spencer romances
Twitter - @kayespencer
**Pictures from Kaye's back yard**
Note - for more information about Cosmos flowers, visit: http://www.americanmeadows.com/wildflower-folklore and http://www.flowersociety.org/Cosmos-plant-study.htm
Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico, Volumes 1 & 2
available on Amazon and other on-line book distributors
Vol. 1: http://amzn.com/B00NVX5Y2C
Vol. 2: http://amzn.com/B00NVXNT5G