The soul of the flowers



About 30 years ago I got present a digitized version of the collected works of Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927). The included search function suddenly made possible a systematic collection of his statements about flowers and plants. This book concludes this inventory for me. It was an amazing journey through the thoughts and experience of the great mystic who spoke with flowers.


Nature mysticism was and is my passion. As a child enlightenment experiences in the forest. As a teenager the discovery of Saint Francis. As a young man the trip to Israel with the thriving citrus plantations, the ancient olive trees and the wild tulips on the hills. The scent of flowers mingled with the fascination of the various religions on the spot: Judaism, Druze, Christianity, Islam, Bahá ' í.


In Israel too I became painfully aware, how in modern agriculture plants are dealt with. I will never forget how any life has disappeared in a chemically treated orange plantation. So dire treatment of the so called “Holy Land”: How does that fit together?


Such were the issues at the beginning of my adult life.


Today at 66, there are different answers. These have arisen in dealing with life, both professionally as private.


As a historian, I have been researching the origin of plants for this book with enthusiasm. Were do their names come from; from what region of the earth did they come from and when; how have people in different cultures thought and felt about them? The discovery that a number of crops, such as olive, wheat, wine and pomegranate so long accompanied us humans was an amazing discovery for me! It led me back to times in which mankind developed agriculture. It indicates a cultural revolution in Afghanistan, Persia and the Caucasus, many thousand years before Christ, which can be associated with the Prophet Zarathustra. But not just from there came the plants, which are discussed in this book. Sunflower and cactus come from South America; the water lily was a major crop in the ancient Egypt. Neem and Jasmine come probably from India. And then there are plants that had so far little to do with whatever culture. The celandine is a good example in its blandness.


As a horticulturalist with biodynamic training I learned to observe plants. In her phenomenology, they show their essence. This approach is controversial in modern times. The doctrine of signatures has led to excesses and unfounded fantasies about the use of herbs in the middle ages. However, much of the old knowledge is confirmed in modern science. A goal of this book was to get these contexts on the track.


As a psychological consultant I have accompanied many years people during their transitions. My own experience, that we can go into nature with the problems that we experience within us and around us, and find in flowers and stones solutions, was a guide and is reflected in this book.


As a private person I learned probably the most from the women that I was allowed to be with. They have opened my heart to the splendor of nature. Human beauty can truly become the crown of creation, even though in the chaotic big world seldom something of it becomes visible.



As a Sufi disciple I immersed myself deeply in the teachings of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan. His brief statements about Dandelion and Daisy leave one at the first hand with a mystery. Terms from a mystical experience make first suspicious. I tried not to get stuck on the surface of worn religious terms. Here, my experience that we can speak at any time directly with the plants was of great help In the end we don´t need mediators, also no Sufi masters. In principle we human beings are not separated from the other realms of nature and we can get into contact again with the whole. A going together of heaven and earth is possible.


Book: "The soul of the flowers" by Firos Holterman ten Hove
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