Demystify the Fascinating Symbolic Meaning of Morning Glories

Morning glories have fascinated gardeners and plant lovers for centuries. But beyond their visual appeal lies a rich symbolic meaning that has intrigued cultures across the globe.

References to the morning glory flower first appeared in Chinese folklore dating back to the 2nd century BCE. To the Chinese, the morning glory represented love, affection and mortality–the delicate flowers lasted only a day before wilting under the summer sun. The Victorian era saw morning glories become a fixture in literature and art, where their transient nature evoked themes of the brevity of life and the ephemerality of beauty.

Love, Fidelity and Affection

Across cultures, morning glories are most commonly associated with love and affection. This meaning stems from both the appearance and behavior of the twining vines and flowers. In the language of flowers, morning glories denote love that is pure and steadfast–able to withstand challenges.

In China and Japan, giving morning glory flowers to a loved one conveys deep affection and faithfulness. Here, the morning glory serves as an emblem of the lasting bonds of true love. Similarly, Victorians often featured morning glories in bouquets given to mark couplehood or matrimony, underscoring themes of loyalty and fidelity.

The Aztecs also viewed morning glories as a symbol of affection and love. However they carried additional meaning as well–due to their similarity in appearance to anatomical hearts, the flowers represented both romantic and spiritual love.

Behavior and Lifespan

The morning glory’s symbolism of love and affection stems in part from its growing habits and lifespan:

  • As vines, morning glories are dependent on their growing supports. This evokes themes of closeness, reliance and inseparability in relationships.
  • The flowers last only a single day. In some cultural interpretations, this reflects the enduring and constant regeneration of love.

Overall, across cultures, contexts and history–the morning glory flower has remained an unwavering symbol of the gentle and nurturing bonds of love and affection.

Resurrection and Rebirth

While fleeting, morning glories hold deeper symbolic meaning as well. Their transient flowers have long evoked themes of resurrection and spiritual rebirth.

This meaning is captured in Christian religious symbolism. Here, the morning glory’s unfurling in the dawn light signifies Christ resurrecting into heavenly glory. More broadly, it signals the promise of new life secured by Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

A hint of this symbolism is also found in Aztec religious beliefs. As hearts bearing the potential for new life, morning glories pointed to themes of regeneration after death.

In eastern cultures too, morning glories carried spiritual meaning. Taoists viewed the flowers as emblems of reincarnation, whilst Buddhists saw them as representations of the potential for enlightenment.

Closely Tied to Sun and Light

This resurrection symbolism relates closely to morning glories’ association with sunrise and daylight:

  • Petals open as dawn breaks, then fade as dusk arrives
  • Positioned to face and capture early morning light
  • Name itself ties the flower to daybreak

Here, morning glories mirror themes of darkness giving way to light. This reflects symbolic meaning of rebirth into glory, tied closely to religious interpretations.

Overall, across history and culture, the morning glory’s clear associations with sunrise reinforce its meaning as an emblem of spiritual resurrection and rebirth for the faithful.

Health and Healing

Beyond the symbolic, morning glories hold meaning for health and healing as well. Though meanings vary across medicinal traditions, morning glories frequently signal fortifying vitality and cleansing impurities.

In traditional Chinese medicine, morning glory seeds and extracts treat conditions from fever and inflammation to constipation and psychosis. The flowers point to resilience, strength and restoration.

Similarly, Aztec and Mesoamerican healing practices employed morning glories to cleanse mind and body. Practitioners viewed the vines and flowers as nurturing vessels channeling the restorative power of the divine.

Echoes of this meaning appear too in the Victorian’s language of flowers. Here, morning glories gifted to the ill fortify the spirit, uplift mood and restore vigor–key steps to healing.

Properties and Attributes

As with symbolic meaning, morning glories’ longstanding associations with healing relate to traits and attributes:

  • Hardy vines and prolific flowers signal bodily strength and resilience
  • Growing in the cleansing light of dawn evokes purification
  • Vibrant blooms and heart-shape bring uplifting joy

Thus across cultures and history, morning glories hold an enduring meaning tied to health, healing and the restoration of wholeness in mind, body and spirit.

Mortality, Impermanence and the Brevity of Existence

Contrasting interpretations of morning glories also exist–where the fleeting flowers evoke darker themes of death, impermanence and existential dread.

In Chinese folklore, morning glories clinging to fence posts were omens signaling coming death. Their wilting in summer heat carried a message life fades as quickly as a morning bloom.

Similarly, some Victorian poems and prose use morning glories as symbols underscoring the transient nature of life and beauty. The short-lived flowers echoed themes that all existence ends, no matter how vibrant and lovely.

Whilst other meanings focus on cycles of renewal, these interpretations reveal morning glories as emblems of life’s ephemeral and passing nature. Here the flowers remind one must accept that–like their own petals–even the brightest soul eventually meets oblivion.

Protection Against Evil

Beyond symbolism tied to human life and death, morning glories hold protective meaning in some cultures as well.

In folk beliefs of India’s indigenous Santal people, placing morning glory flowers and vines outside homes safeguards against malevolent spirits. The plants form living barriers keeping darkness and ill fortune at bay.

Similar ideas existed in Aztec culture too–where depictions of morning glories warded structures against misfortune and evil influence. The flowers channeled divine beneficence to shelter areas within.

Thus, with their associations with light and the heavens, morning glories signify shelter under the protective veil of the divine–secured by the vibrant blooms scattering darkness.

Whilst symbolic associations dominate, morning glories also carry significant cultural meaning for their psychoactive properties.

Due to compounds like LSA, seeds induce hallucinations and altered states when ingested. This was known and utilized by Aztecs and other indigenous peoples for spiritual rites and divination.

However, unguided use caused deep mental and physical distress. Thus, cultural traditions strictly controlled the sacramental use of morning glories to induce transcendent vision states.

In modern contexts too, morning glory seeds are sometimes recreationally misused for their hallucinogenic effects. However, this remains controversial due to dangers from toxicity and unpredictable reactions.

Ultimately, from indigenous rites through to the present day, morning glories signify consciousness expansion–though this meaning has become distorted and appropriated outside spiritual contexts.