Flowers for the Mother
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
When my husband and I began our research on Lithuania many months ago, there was only a small chance we would actually move here. The net had been cast wide, and there was really no indication we would plant our feet here in the coming months. (Surprise - here I am!) But regardless, our curiosity led us to learn more about Lithuania -- I guess we're just adventurers at heart.
One of the first things we learned: Lithuania was the last territory in Europe to fall to Christianity way back in 1387. I was inspired to learn this -- it shows a people of quiet resilience, which has been made clear time and time again throughout history. Whereas paganism in the United States tends to be vilified (thanks, Evangelicalism!), here it is as natural as breath because nature is held sacred in daily life. I gather that there is no need to call oneself a pagan because being tied to nature is understood.
Who needs words when the forest is all around you?
While deities may not be worshiped anymore by most, pagan rituals became integrated into the all-encompassing Christian religion. (We see this elsewhere in history, with the Spring Equinox celebration of Eostre merging into Christianity's Easter. And that's just one example!) This past Sunday, the Assumption of Mary took place all around Lithuania, where flowers were ritualistically brought to church as an offering. As an outsider, the core energetic lines of this ritual made me curious, which is when a new (amazing!) Lithuanian friend shared the true roots of this ritual: Žolinė. Žolinė literally translates to Herbal Day, and is a Baltic feast celebrating the beginning of the harvest, in honor of Lada, goddess of fertility, harvest, and never-ending earth energy.
Suddenly, I understood that the real ritual is bringing flowers to the Earth Mother goddess. Going into the forests later that day at Žalieji Ežerai, I had a newfound appreciation for them. That feeling I had when I first entered them a few weeks ago? Completely aligned. The beautiful thing about Lithuania is that people I've met just shrug their shoulders when paganism comes up. They don't have the same baggage -- just an offering of flowers for the Mother.
I kind of lost my mind when I saw these beautiful flowers being sold at Cathedral Square, just one bouquet of many to choose from. To me, they really do signify not just a buoyant harvest offering, but a people that continues to spring back to life over and over.