Lavender Flower Meaning & Spiritual Significance

lavender has long been associated with peace, relaxation, and spirituality due to its sweet floral scent and calming purple colors. This aromatic herb has a rich history intertwined with folklore, legends, and ancient traditions from around the world.

Understanding lavender’s symbolism provides insight into its enduring appeal and how it continues to be used today for both practical and ceremonial purposes.

Origins and History of Lavender

The earliest recorded use of lavender dates back to ancient Egypt, where lavender flowers were included in the mummification process. Ancient Greeks and Romans used lavender in their bathwater, believing its scent had purifying and calming properties. They introduced lavender to Europe, where it was grown in monasteries and prized for its medicinal qualities.

During the medieval era, lavender remained a popular remedy across Europe and the Middle East to treat ailments like insomnia, anxiety, depression, and female hormonal imbalances. Wealthy households valued lavender as a luxury, infusing bedsheets and clothing with its floral scent.

By the 16th century, lavender had become immensely popular and was revered for its versatile uses:

  • Treating wounds and alleviating pain
  • Repelling insects and rodents
  • Masking foul odors in sickrooms
  • Use in teas, tinctures, salves, and balms
  • Scenting soaps, perfumes, potpourris
  • Flavoring baked goods and confections

While synthetic fragrances have replaced natural lavender in some modern applications, it remains a staple ingredient in aromatherapy and natural wellness remedies.


The word lavender derives from the Latin root lavare, meaning “to wash.” This denotes its long association with cleanliness and purification rituals.

Physical Attributes and Cultivation

Lavender is a perennial flowering plant that thrives in hot, dry climates. The most common variety grown is Lavandula angustifolia. Lavender flourishes in well-drained alkaline soil and full sun exposure. If grown indoors, it requires supplemental lighting.

Lavender has fragrant grayish green needle-shaped leaves and slender purple flower spikes. Its tiny tubular purple flowers grow in whorls along the flowering stems. Lavender blooms from mid-late summer into fall, with peak flowering in July and August.

Only the flower buds are harvested for culinary and aromatherapy applications. They are gathered just before blooming when the essential oil concentration is highest. The flowers are then dried and the fragrant oil is extracted via steam distillation.

Therapeutic Benefits of Lavender Oil

Lavender essential oil contains the compounds linalool and linalyl acetate which impart its characteristic scent. It offers many therapeutic benefits:

  • Induces sleep and relaxation
  • Provides pain relief
  • Lowers anxiety and emotional stress
  • Improves mood and alleviates depression
  • Enhances concentration and mental clarity
  • Reduces inflammation and aids wound healing

These medicinal properties explain lavender’s enduring popularity and its associations with healing.

Symbolism of the Color Purple

The purple color of lavender flowers holds symbolic meaning:

  • Royalty – Purple has long been associated with royalty, opulence, and luxury across many ancient cultures.
  • Wisdom – Purple resonates with knowledge, intuition, creativity, and vision.
  • Mysticism – The mystical undertones of purple connect it to magic, prophecy, and spiritual ritual.
  • Devotion – Historically, purple also signified commitment, longing, and romantic passion.

Purple’s link to extravagance and its spiritual associations help explain lavender’s role in ceremonies and its connotation of preciousness.

Multiple Color Varieties

Beyond the classic lavender purple, there are over 400 varieties of lavender flowers in shades of pink, white, yellow, blue, and violet. This diversity of colors adds to its appeal in gardens, floral arrangements, and potpourri.

Lavender in Mythology and Folklore

Lavender has appeared in myths, legends, and lore for centuries:

  • In ancient Egypt, lavender was infused into burial clothes to anoint pharaohs.
  • Romans believed lavender was sacred to Mercury, the messenger god.
  • European folk medicine used lavender to ward off evil spirits and protect babies.
  • Lavender was one of the plants in Christ’s crown of thorns, according to Christian folklore.
  • Ancient Celts referred to lavender as “aspanka” meaning “fragrance from the gods.”

Through these stories, lavender took on legendary status and became associated with sanctity, protection, and divinity across cultures.

Enduring Mystique

The folkloric presence of lavender through the ages underscores its enduring mystique. Even as our scientific understanding of lavender has grown, its place in spiritual traditions and rituals remains constant due to its symbolic power.

Meaning and Symbolism

What accounts for lavender’s worldwide prominence and appeal throughout history? The meanings associated with it provide answers.

Peace and Relaxation

In aromatherapy, lavender is renowned for its stress-relieving qualities. The soothing, flowery scent of lavender is believed to slow racing thoughts, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and lull one into a calm state. This peaceful essence has made lavender an important plant ally for addressing anxiety, depression, and sleep issues without the side effects of medication.

Love and Femininity

Victorian era symbolism linked lavender to chastity, grace, and purity. Young women carried lavender flowers with them to inspire romantic feelings in potential suitors. New brides incorporated lavender into their bouquets and decor due to associations with commitment and lifelong love.

As a gentle, nourishing herb, lavender was used to support women’s reproductive health. It became part of rituals welcoming new babies into families and households.

Healing and Protection

For centuries, lavender has been revered for its healing properties. English and French hospitals during WWI used lavender to disinfect walls and floors. Nurses treated soldiers’ wounds with lavender for its antiseptic and pain-relieving qualities.

In the home, lavender was used to repel germs and pests. Tucked under pillows, lavender scented bedding and warded off insects. Hung in bunches around homes, it deterred flies, mosquitos, and moths. These protective abilities amplified lavender’s symbolism.

Cleansing and Purification

Lavender’s fresh, floral scent has made it a staple in cleansing rituals across cultures. Ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians used lavender for embalming and burial rites. Lavender’s holistic purifying properties have lent it a sacred status.

Today, lavender remains popular for cleansing spaces and purifying the body through aromatherapy, steam, and bathing.

In recent decades, lavender has entered mainstream consumerism but maintained its symbolic potency:

  • Aromatherapy, candles, room/linen sprays, incense, and bath products
  • Culinary use in sweets like lavender lattes, cupcakes, teas, jams
  • Decorative wreaths, potpourri, dried flower arrangements
  • Wedding bouquets, centerpieces, corsages
  • Tattoos and art depicting lavender’s color and meaning
  • Horticultural attraction with over 400 lavender species

Even against the backdrop of urbanization and technology, lavender’s evocative scent and lush blossoms continue to spark imagination and convey beauty, nostalgia, and tranquility.