Intimate associations. By Natalia Goldin.
Why do people always associate orchid with sex or at least with Platonic love? Is it possible that in our
consciousness orchids are somehow connected with the intimate darkness and moisture of rainforest?
Sounds probable, but I wouldn’t insist on this version. Think of Platanthera bifolia orchid growing on the territory of Russia under absolutely different environmental conditions, still being considered an aphrodisiac since the Middle Ages.
A human being has always longed for three things – health, sex and money. The order might vary depending on what was insufficient at the moment, but The Hot Three remained constant. Until recently in Europe, and later in Central and North America orchids were mainly nursed by wealthy people. At least they could afford a gardener and used to own a greenhouse, preferably in the immediate vicinity of the ancestral castle. At most they used to outfit orchid hunting expeditions to wild countries. I mean, it isn’t money to be considered the main motivating factor.
What else is there? Oh, Health and Sex. The intricate structure of orchid’s tuber attracted the attentions of collectors and ancient “pharmacists”, who found the resemblance of the tubers to different parts of human body. Formerly drugs used to be prepared according to the following principle: the drug had to look similar to the signs of disease or the affected organ. Therefore, orchids were tested for assessment to cure different maladies and proven to be good. It is logical, because the orchid tubers contain nutrients reserve (like potato and beet) as well as enveloping agents, relieving the process of digestion, especially in the case of digestive problems. Due to the both properties, tubers consumption helps relieve the state of a debilitated person.
We can’t say it for sure if it is really true that some orchids contain excitants. As far as I know, the conventional medicine does not recognize them as a drug. However, we can easily imagine such a scene: a healer is showing a strange orchid tuber to the patient explaining competently that this is a magic’s aid, imported directly from El Dorado, which will surely cure him. Certainly, for a good charge. Refreshed by the nutrient “drug” and impressed by such a suggestion, the patient might feel better in all respects. This is the way how step by step orchid could gain the reputation of an aphrodisiac, hypnotizing all the further generations of sick and healthy. This story can explain why all of us have heard at least with half an ear about the relation between the orchids and delicate emotions.
The beautiful, spectacular, glittering flowers of orchids, which caught the eyes of our ancestors, were often very large. People used to look for such scenic plants on purpose. Try to find some image within the almost colorless flower of wheat, 3 mm in size! But look at Cattleya flower , fist-size and fragrant. That’s another pair of shoes! Here you have plenty of room for imagination, and the scent is so sweet and enjoyable.
You can say that rose or lily also possesses large, bright and odoriferous flowers. That is right. Both rose and lily were once a symbol of femininity. But nevertheless there is some difference. People didn’t use to go crazy about roses. They did not travel to jungle, did not smash up, and did not divorce for lilies.
Why was that namely orchid that impacted people so strong?
But how can we explain the fact that a modern civilized person, who does not look around in panic trying to recognize signs of God’s power, sees the symbol of genital organ in the orchid flower after all? Just look at these pictures. They give rise to absolutely definite associations. Do you have any answer? I don’t.