The magnolia flower is OLD. I mean really OLD. She is thought to be one of the “most primitive” of the flowering plant families, with fossilized specimens around 95 MILLION years old, and origins likely 140 million to 250 million years ago. These flowers lived with the dinosaurs, but having no bones they left only a few traces of themselves. The magnolia is an amazing tree, tough as nails and incredibly beautiful. They appeared on Earth before bees, and are pollinized primarily by beetles instead, so they had to be rugged to avoid damage by the gnawing mandibles of the beetles.
I have four magnolia trees blooming in my yard now, and they never cease to amaze me. These large trees are quite tall now at 15 years of age, about 20 feet. The glossy bright green leaves are thick and tough, and remarkably tropical looking for a tree that lives though the cold winters here and then develops huge flowers in May. When a flower bud first appears, it has a casing that is covered in a soft light brown fur and it literally feels like the fur of an animal. Then that drops off and the large bud of the flower swells, looking like a very ripe pointy ice cream cone. The next day the flowers open to a large, outstretched hand sized flower and the petals are so different from most flowers, feeling like the softest leather I have ever felt, at once strong and silky.
Best of all are the middle parts of her flower, her sex organs. Is there anything more erotic? I don’t like to use the scientific names of flower parts because to me they are confusing and completely distract from my experience of the flower. What I see is this glorious profusion of curly feeler tentacles swelling with incredible life-force out of a chorus of supporting fingers. The curls of the emerging tentacles are so delicate, yet fiercely offering their nectar, freely and with no restraint. The sensual aliveness of the flower at this peak of its receptivity is one of the most erotic things I know and savor.
While the beauty of the magnolia flower is enough to make me swoon all by itself, her luscious, deeply fragrant scent sends me completely over the top. It is delicately rose sweet, yet with an overtone of citrus, and for me is the quintessential scent of late spring romance. I want to crawl into her flower and curl up and stay there, wrapped in her strong soft petals with her scent intimately washing over me, stroking my naked skin as I fall deep into her memory of millennia of lifetimes of springs unfurling.
That botanists call magnolias a “primitive flower” implies they are simple, but this understanding of flower evolution in linear terms misses her true story. These ancient flowers are the powerhouses who figured out how to flower first, the grandmothers, the strong ones who have survived the longest with the most vitality and the greatest beauty. They are an amazing combination of fierceness and simplicity and beauty – a grandmother warrior. She has never lost sight of who she is and what she brings to us – focused love and sensual beauty that is strong enough to keep our attention on what matters most – having our feet and roots deep in the ground and bringing forth our intimate love and heart’s desire with nothing less than the force of our entire soul. I like to think magnolia has always stood strong and proud as she does now, commanding her own space. And that is a warrior to me.
She doesn’t try to be like those newcomer flowers. She knows her strength, her truth, her great beauty, and her heart’s desire. She knows the true grace of being a CRONE. She is fierce, and yet soft as a baby’s cheek.
Images: 1) magnolia flower just opened 2) furry outer coating of magnolia blossom 3) my magnolia warrior collage