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Flora

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Flora, a detail from "Primavera," painted in 1482 by Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445 – 1510)
Flora, a detail from "Primavera," painted in 1482 by Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445 – 1510)

Flora, also known as Flora Rustica (Flora of the Countryside), Flora Mater (Flora the Mother), and Fluusa or Flusia (Goddess of Flowers) is the Roman goddess of flowers and Spring time. Her names derive from the ancient Oscan and Roman words flosa and floris which refer to flowers, with an implied meaning of "flourishing," "prospering," and "blooming." In modern English, the word flora is the term used to identify a list of all of the flowering plants of a given region.

Flora's veneration was widely spread on the Italian peninsula, especially among the Osci and Sabine people, before the era of Roman hegemony. In Rome, she was considered to be one of a triad of fertility and crop goddesses, the other two being Ceres, the grain goddess, and Libera, who, with her brother Liber, ruled over the vineyards. Originally her festival, the Floralia, was moveable and was calculated locally according to each region's dates for the height of Spring bloom. Once her veneration was adopted by the Romans, she was given two temples in Rome, and a formal festival was instituted in her honour. Her major temple was dedicated on the 28th of April in 241 BCE in response to a devastating drought. Thenceforward, the Roman festival of Floralia was held for six days, from April 28th through May 3rd. During the Floralia both men and women wore brightly-coloured clothes and bedecked themselves with fresh flowers. For the first five days there were public performances of farces and mimes, often with sexually explicit humour. On the sixth day the populace took to the countryside to hunt goats and wild hares. On May 23rd, when the roses were in bloom, a second, one-day festival for roses, "the Queen of Flowers," was held in Flora's honour.

Flora is married to Favonius, a wind god also known as Zephyr. Her equivalent in the ancient Greek pantheon was the flower-nymph Chloris, whose name means "yellow-green." However, the Roman writer Ovid said that rather than Flora and Chloris being equivalent deities from differing pantheons, the Greek nymph Chloris was kissed by Zephyr, which magically turned her into the Roman goddess Flora. Ovid also wrote that Flora helped the Roman goddess Juno become pregnant with the god Mars by means of a magical flower. As the goddess of all flowering plants, especially those with ornamental blossoms, Flora is depicted as a young woman garbed in light clothing who holds a bouquet of flowers and wears a floral crown.

Hoodoo psychic readers, spirit workers, and root doctors who petition the Roman deities within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan traditions on behalf of clients may work with Flora when there are pending spiritual and magical issues regarding love, romance, and sexual appeal, as well as blessing, enhancement of fertility, healing from grief, and an overall increase in joy.

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