As Spring Queen slowly formed in my mind, so did an image of roots. The word landed in my consciousness with a profound certainty that this word and it’s meaning were what I was meant to explore next. Unlike Autumn Queen, who had a forest tale to tell, and Winter Queen, who needed her story to be written as a poem, Spring Queen’s message is neither. Her message is here as thoughts that need to be conveyed, as truths that need to be considered and as a metaphor that needs to be shared.
Roots are such a good metaphor aren’t they? Roots are our heritage. They are our history and the actions of the past. But more than that, roots are the foundational values of our families, communities and societies. I am not of the school of thought that ‘we should not dredge up the past, we should in fact just get over it’. That same school of thought welcomes talk of the past when the stories being told are where we were on the side of the winners, not the losers; where we were striving, not plundering and conquering; where we were the good, not the bad or the ugly. World Cup 1966 anyone? Our naval heroes circumnavigating the globe, discovering and civilising? Our valiant efforts to defend the world during the World Wars? Oh we can and will continue to celebrate, honour and remember for sure and rightly so….but please also let us remember the rest of it and the rest of THEM, our ancestors who weren’t so well treated by our other ancestors. Otherwise our version of history, the history we learn in schools and through the media is not the whole story. It must be the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us.
The thing is that the past is not really gone, it is still here, influencing how we live today in complex ways. I would emphatically state that it is not possible to have a healthy society for everyone (not healthy for even one, not healthy for anyone) if our history, the foundations it has been built on, the values we lived by, our roots, have not been unearthed and faced head on. Even if we think our values are different now than they were in the past (but are they really so different?), those historical values have a very strong and real impact on us in the present and society needs to be healed of them.
Now that I have woken up, I feel uneasy about the ‘Great’ in ‘Great’ Britain. Let’s think about how we earned it. The values that the ‘Great’ was built upon are not those that we should be proud of: Racism, prejudice, imperialism, colonialism, exploitation, nationalism, greed, injustice, corruption, inhumanity and underlying them all, white supremacy…How many of these values can we identify as still being part of our societies today, across the world, but particularly as Western and European nations, as part of our governments, our organisations, our institutions?
But what can we do? Where do we go from here? It sometimes feels too painful to process. The trauma is real. Although sometimes I think that the whole plant needs to be ripped out of the ground and thrown away, I think there is still hope for it. There is still hope that it might be able re-eVALUEate. What if more of the flowers wanted to face the truth of their roots? What if more of the flowers wanted to heal the whole plant, instead of turning their faces away from the damage? What if the plant is gently, carefully and ceremoniously unearthed and examined closely, with open eyes and souls? Some of the roots are good and healthy! Look, there’s love. Oh love, I am so glad we found you. And there’s hope, equality, fairness, justice, respect, honesty, freedom, humanity….So many good roots. They do exist!
We could listen to the stories of the flowers that have felt the direct, oppressive and generational effects of the sick roots. Their stories really matter. Whilst we’re listening, we could look inside, at the parts of us: our petals, our stamen, our pistils. We could look at the flowers who bloom close to us with clearer eyes and strengthen our own structures to defend them. We could act for the blooming of all flowers. We could even tell younger flowers about the healthy and unhealthy roots, teaching them about the actions that were fuelled by them and the consequences that were a result of them. We could teach them about the special flowers that bloom despite the unhealthy roots, that have made contributions to the health of the whole plant.
We could also ask: What do those unhealthy roots mean to us? Some flowers have and still do benefit from them. Some flowers have grown bigger (but not brighter or more beautiful) and try to block the sun from others. It will never be possible to convince every flower to look inwards with honesty and grace. To face deep truths is hard and uncomfortable and they don’t want their petals to become smaller – they were enjoying monopolising the sunshine. But perhaps if more flowers were to grow towards the sun in truth, love and a desire for equality for all, they could all benefit from it’s warm rays. Perhaps then, the other flowers that aren’t so happy to share will become less in number and significance.
The healthier plant can now be put back into the fertile soil. The unhealthy roots are still there and always will be. As history they have to remain because it cannot and should not be erased (‘lest we forget’ the full version) and as values they still exist because I’m afraid they always will. They still hurt, but they no longer have the power to grow bigger or determine the health of the other roots, which outnumber them. Love wins and with love, strength and hope we can grow towards the light and bloom.
Spring is about the blooms, the colour that floods into our lives after Winter. It is about growth, warmth and light. It is also about the roots: The healthy roots that allow us to grow as best we can individually and together towards that warmth and light; and the unhealthy roots that serve as a reminder of the values we cannot live by if each of us is to have the space and opportunity to flower.
Lovelies, Spring Queen is like her other seasonal sister queens. She is about truth and love. She is about my desire to express the pain I feel but the hope that exists within me right alongside it. I don’t have a magic wand and I don’t have all the answers but I do have my voice and my metaphorical pen and I am going to use both to try and continue speaking and writing the truth as I see it, even though I find it very hard to hold my head up and be seen. The vulnerability is real.
If you would like to stitch Spring Queen, you can find the pattern, template and full tutorial, suitable for beginners, with stitch and colour guides, stitch glossary and detailed step by step instructions in my Etsy shop.
Happy Spring! And if it isn’t Spring where you are, Happy Nature because nature will be doing something beautiful wherever you are.