• Words by Sonia

Iris, Wisdom Brought from Heaven

Updated: Jul 24, 2020


If there existed somewhere in the world a tapestry into which were woven all the stories, legends, beliefs, symbols and facts concerning the Iris - it would be a very long tapestry indeed; and the end of it would not be visible, for the weavers are still at work. With striking uniqueness and beauty, irises have rich meanings, and when given as gifts, they can convey deep sentiments.

We owe the name of our flower to the Greeks. In Ancient Greece, Iris was the messenger of the Gods and considered an embodiment of the rainbow. She was the special messenger of Hera, the Queen Goddess. Her winged form was a popular subject in art and the flower was named after her. When Iris carried special messages from Heaven to Earth, she used the rainbows as her pathway. The ancient Greeks soon began the practice of planting purple iris flowers on the graves of women, believing they would entice the Goddess Iris to lead their loved ones in their journey to heaven.

These stately flowers, as evidenced by their depiction in Egyptian palaces, also enamoured Egyptian Kings. The Egyptians were likely influenced by Greek mythology and used the iris to symbolise their connections to heaven.

By the middle ages, France took up the gauntlet and began to use iris flowers to symbolise royalty and power. In fact, it is the iris that inspired the fleur-de-lis, the National symbol for France; the three inner petals represent faith, wisdom, and valour.