The Herbarium of Rhodes
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The season of ‘The Lover’ – a gateway of homecoming

The season of ‘The Lover’

– from the first days of May until Summer solstice –

This time of the year is the season of joy, sensuality, Eros, connection, when our Mother Earth, Gaia so generously offers us her beauty and gifts – like no other time within the year. She is catalyzing our connection with the realms of divinities through our body sensations that we can reach by:

tasting the sweetness of the first fruits,

smelling the mesmerizing oils of the blooming herbs,

by admiring the beauty of the untouched flowering landscape and our gardens,

by wearing less clothes so we can feel more breeze and sunshine on our skin,

letting the light into our soul through our naked body,

and also nurturing our skin and whole being by bathing in the sea, the river, or the lake, any wild water.

Earth, water, fire, air – all of these elements are accessible for us for healing and generating joy during this season. It seems that also the elements are making love with each other.

Satureja thymbra, the aphrodisiac herb of Dionysos is blooming in May and June on Rhodes / photo: Mariann Lipcsei
Wild carrots (Daucus carotta) sunbathing in Rhodes in June / photo: Mariann Lipcsei

The light is reaching its zenith by the powerful cosmic event of summer solstice (this year happened on the 21st June, at 12:13 in Greece), so we (talking about the peoples of the Northern Hemisphere) might experience an emotional/psychological sense of growth and growing fulfillment through the expansion of sunlight, with the rising temperature and growing lenghts of the days. The season of the Lover in the annual cycle is analogous to the phase of the full moon within the moon cycle, and also analogous to the ovulatory phase within women’s menstrual cycle (more precisely: the last days of the follicular phase). On each level, within each cycle this is the climax of the life-giving energy, of Eros, sensuality, reproduction, creation, unity, birth, the manifesting force of a new life which is equally present within the ovum and the Sun.

The season of The Lover is simply the time of bodily pleasure rooted in the gifts of Earth. This season is the perfect reminder that they belong to each other:

our body and the earth.

The wisdom of Greek language preserves this primordial connection, as the Greek word for earth is almost exactly the same as the word for body. In Greek soil/earth/ground is: homa (χώμα), while body is: soma (σώμα).

I am not refering to a self-serving, selfish joy of the body here, but a reconnection and communion with All. With the stars, all the elements, the plants and animals, everything that participates in the harmonious cyclical pulsation of life.

And senses amplify each other. That is why it is so wonderful to sit down and eat within the landscape where your fruits, vegetables grow, the same place you cook them (maybe with the same tools your grandmother cooked with – if you are lucky), under the same stars, cherished by the same wind and in the same season you harvest them. Eating seasonal and zero kilometre food is not simply a rational environmental and ecological wisdom, but a source of divine joy and pleasure of the mortal human body.

Thymbra capitata in full bloom in June, the source of the famous Rhodian thyme honey / photo: Mariann Lipcsei
The pomegranate plant (Punica granatum) is in love in June – flowering. / photo: Mariann Lipcsei

Cultivating a conscious connection with the landscape we live and breath in, and with our own physical body is the real gateway of homecoming on this planet.

Homer’s Odysseus – the legendary man, king of Ithaka, the greatest adventurer among all – called the day of his return to Ithaka:

‘Nostimon Imar’ (ancient Greek: νόστιμον ἦμαρ).

When the breathtakingly beautiful nymph Calypso tried to seduce Odysseus by offering him immortality and “all thy desire to see”, Odysseus (even after seven years of drunkenness) soberly resisted, because he recognized a real, deep desire of his heart.

He wisely answered Calypso:

“But even so I wish and long day by day to reach my home, and to see the day of my return.”

Homer: The Odyssey, V. 219–220 (translated by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes. Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919.)

Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὧς ἐθέλω καὶ ἐέλδομαι ἤματα πάντα οἴκαδέ τ’ ἐλθέμεναι καὶ νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἰδέσθαι.

Homer: The Odyssey, V. 219–220 / original text

Myrtus communis, the sacred plant of Aphrodite is in full bloom in June in Rhodes / photo: Mariann Lipcsei

As we see it in Homer’s Odyssey, in the ancient Greek language the word for homecoming was: ‘nostimon’ (νόστιμον).

And do you know what the modern Greeks say today when they taste the first apricot of the season straight from the sunkissed tree?

They say: ‘Nostimo!’

In modern Greek the word ‘nostimo’ means: tasty, delicious, nourishing, wholesome. When modern Greeks find a meal tasty, they use the same word, that ancient Greeks used for homecoming. Food for Greeks[1] has to be a homecoming experience. In Greece if the food is good, then it functions as an umbilical cord between the human body and the landscape. It has to awake the senses, so one can recognize the essence of home within:

the taste, the harmony of the aromas, the colors, the texture, within the whole sensual ritual of having a meal.

You must recognize and sense the nurturing land in your food, and this is how you nurture your mortal body – not only on a biological nutritional level, but on a sensual and spiritual level as well. Food shouldn’t just satisfy a daily physiological nutritional necessity, but also our deep rooted longing for the unity with Earth and for being fully present in our physical body.

Finally having a meal is not only a unity with the soil, as the first apricot of the season contains months of sunlight, moonlight, the humming of the bees, the songs of the birds, the salty winds of the island, the whole mandala of life.

The modern word ‘nostimo’ still carries its ancient meaning. It carries the great homecoming that Odysseus wished and longed for: experiencing the living relationship between ‘soma‘ and ‘homa‘, between man and the landscape that nurtures him as a loving mother. The very homecoming of a mortal man starts with being present within nature: within his own body, and within the landscape he belongs to, respects and cultivates.

In this case man reconnects to the sacred mandala of life, and time will be ‘kairos’.

The season of The Lover through its gifts, tastes, colors, fragrances and poetry is carrying the primordial wisdom and beauty of the Mediterranean Basin, the sparkling South, the lands of Eros. But Eros is never the blinding intoxication of Calypso.

Eros is the sober, conscious ever-uniting power of love – the compass of Odysseus on his way home.

It is the season of the Taurus and the Gemini. It is the time, when Gaia is in love and the most fertile, the vegetation is in full bloom, when bees are the busiest, when light reaches its zenith, and therefore it is the perfect season to rebond with the Earth through our bodily sensations as gateways, in order to follow the footsteps of Odysseus and approach the day of our homecoming.

Odysseus’ nostimon imar is what we – mortals – all “wish and long day by day to reach”, and which is much more precious and true, than the promise of immortality in Calypso’s cave.

Ithaka is here and now. But many times it requires a long and painful journey to dock on its shores.

The landscape that nurtures so many species and gave abode to peoples at least since 2400 BCE, Ialysos, Rhodes / photo: Mariann Lipcsei

[1]: When I use the noun ‘Greeks’ I obviously do not talk about an entire group of a nation. I struggle to find even one person in contemporary Greece who is conscious about his/her (glossal, spiritual, cultural) heritage and about his/her actions. I rather reconstruct an idea here that is carried by a word of ancient and cosmological roots. Nevertheless I have seen a handful of Greeks, who live and breath the philosophy of ‘nostos’ – even without knowing it. They are old, humble, calm, silent people who are full of Eros, recreating the sacred mandala of life each day with their simple unvisible unconditional care towards each form of life. Until they are alive, we are not completely lost.

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This entry was posted in: The Herbarium of Rhodes


//EN// I am a Hungarian woman living on the Greek Dodecanese archipelago where I have been researching the characteristics of the local landscape and culture since 2015. This journey and work on the Aegean sea gives me the fuel to share what I've found: through written materials (on this blog and at other venues), and to create artworks of pressed flowers and herbs which is a great botano-mythical journey, a worship in the great temple of Mother nature that widens my whole world each day a bit more. My interests: human integrity, interactions between a culture and an individual, recognizing and understanding nature's orderly movements and the cosmic patterns in the human (body and psyche) and their interconnectedness with the non-human world, mythology & archetypes, the Great Mother archetype, women's health, and healing through rebonding with nature (especially with the plant world). //HU// Főként a szavak és a képek nyelvén közlő, önálló utat kijárni próbáló, gondolkodó, örökösen válaszokat kereső embernek tartom magamat. Jelenleg Rodosz szigetén élek, ahol 2015 óta próbálom megfejteni a Mediterránum ezen szegletének (engem mágnesként fogva tartó) géniuszát a helyi természetben, szociokulturális vonásokban, egyéni történetekben - valamint próbálom megfejteni saját folytonosan formálódó viszonyulásomat e költészettől parázsló tájhoz, annak ambivalens jelenkori kultúrájához. Ez a kimeríthetetlen felfedező munka lett írásaim (és egyben önismeretem) epicentruma. A Rodoszi Herbárium pedig a görög szigetek természeti gazdagságának és éteri szépségének egyszerre megidézési- és megismerési kísérlete. A helyi növények gyűjtésével, préselésével és képekké alakításával nem csak a teremtés szépségében gyönyörködöm, hanem segít kapcsolódnom a fény útjához, a vegetáció diverzitásához és ritmusához, mitikus történetek, archaikus elfeledett bölcsességekhez, tudattalanomban szunnyadó képekhez, kozmikus analógiákhoz, és mindezen keresztül saját lényegemhez.

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