Lavender: Scent and Symbol

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The health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, disinfect the scalp and skin, enhance blood circulation and treat respiratory problems. The Latin name of lavender is Lavare, which means “to wash”, due to its aroma which has a particularly clean aroma.  Lavender oil is extracted mostly from the flowers of the lavender plant, primarily through steam distillation. The flowers of lavender are fragrant in nature and have been used for making potpourri for centuries. Traditionally, lavender essential oil has also been used in making perfumes. The oil is very useful in aromatherapy and many aromatic preparations and combinations are made using lavender oil.  Lavender oil blends well with many other essential oils including cedarwood, pine, clary sage, geranium, and nutmeg. Today, lavender essential oil is frequently used in various forms including aromatherapy oil, gels, infusion, lotion, and soaps.



The color, the texture, and the scent of a lavender field encapsulate for many the essence of Provence, France. The above video illustrates how you can enjoy the lavender fields in Provance, around the Luberon where you will find concentrations of lavender fields: on the high plateaux around Sault, at the foot of the Mont Ventoux, and around Apt and Gordes. Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône River to the west to the Italian border to the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south.



Lavender was commonly used in Roman baths to scent the water, and it was thought to restore the skin. During Roman times, flowers were sold for 100 denarii per pound, which was about the same as a month's wages for a farm laborer, or fifty haircuts from the local barber.  Its beautiful rich and soothing color represents the LGBT Community as part of the "Rainbow Flag" and it is used as a symbol for "Gay Pride" all around the world. 


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Lavender most commonly symbolizes love, devotion and purity. It is a commonly used color for weddings, and, when given as a gift, lavender represents opportunity and promises new adventure. The color purple has a history of association with royalty, so lavender suggests splendor and regal majesty. For centuries, lavender was used to scent love letters and was combined with rosemary during the Renaissance to secure a woman's chastity.


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The lavender rose symbolizes love-at-first-sight and is often sent by individuals who wish to express feelings of adoration. Lavender roses share symbolism with fabled blue roses, which have not been found to exist in nature. Since the quest for a truly blue rose is ongoing, much of its fabricated symbolism, such as wonder and a magical aura of impossibility, has become linked to the lavender rose. Long-stemmed lavender roses are used in bouquets and carry the greatest symbolic significance.


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In aromatherapy, lavender is an essential oil known for its light aroma and a yin-yang balance pointing to femininity and an inward sense of awareness. Spiritual symbolism of lavender resides in the realms of healing, easing of tension, higher consciousness and the release of energy blockages. Lavender is popular as an accent color in Feng Shui meditation rooms.


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The Roman's late Latin name was lavandārius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb lavāre (to wash). When the Roman Empire conquered southern Britain, the Romans introduced lavender. The ancient Greeks called the lavender herb nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda. It was also commonly called nard. The Greeks discovered early on that lavender if crushed and treated correctly would release a relaxing fume when burned. Lavender was one of the holy herbs used in the biblical Temple to prepare the holy essence, and lavender mentioned in the Song of Solomon as nard, a spice and/or incense. Nard and saffron, 
calamus and cinnamon,
 myrrh and aloes,
 included among the finest spices with every kind of incense tree. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. There are no known scientific reports of interactions between lavender and conventional medications but it has been considered to have a positive effect as an interactive agent when used with some type of depressants.



Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Genderqueer (LGBTQ) communities have adopted certain symbols and symbolism for which they are identified and by which they demonstrate unity, pride, shared values, and allegiance to one another. LGBTQ symbols also communicate ideas, concepts and identity both within their communities and to mainstream cultures. The two most-recognized international LGBTQ symbols are the pink triangle and the pride flag. The pink triangle, employed by the Nazis in World War II as a badge of shame was re-appropriated but retained some negative connotations. The Rainbow flag was envisioned and created to be a more organic and natural replacement without any negativity attached to it.


Males and Females symbols


Where did that rainbow flag come from, and how did it come to symbolize gay pride and rights? The story is a touching one, involving a drag queen who would come to be known as “Busty Ross,” huge trash bins full of dye, clandestine trips to the laundromat, and the famous gay politician Harvey Milk. Gilbert Baker, an artist and drag queen, first created the Rainbow Flag in 1978. In an interview Baker did with the Museum of Modern Art, which recently added the rainbow flag to its design collection, Baker says he started to seriously think about creating a flag for the movement in 1976, the year of the United States’ bicentennial. Baker says he saw a flag as a more powerful symbol than a seal or a sign, since it is flown to represent a nation, people or country. “We are a people, a tribe if you will. And flags are about proclaiming power, so it’s very appropriate,” he said.


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"We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things," said Baker. "Plus, it’s a natural flag—it’s from the sky! And even though the rainbow has been used in other ways in vexilography, this use has now far eclipsed any other use that it had."


Judy Garland


The rainbow had the added benefit of being a natural and universal symbol that works in any language. The rainbow flag also had some connections with Judy Garland, a favorite figure of the gay community who sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in “The Wizard of Oz.” The Advocate had called Garland "an Elvis for homosexuals."



Director Terry Rayment and Cinematographer Kate Arizmendi's film "Understanding" poignantly depicts the transformational power of love and happiness and captured all of the emotions beautifully.  In 3 Minutes, Kodak Captures the Ache of Gay Love, Dread of Coming Out and the Joy of Being Accepted.  The film shows a teen’s journey after he is discovered by his sister kissing a boy in his bedroom. And yes, it has a happy ending.