A proving of Gaillardia aristata; Blanketflower
Gaillardia aristata, known by the common names: common blanketflower and common gaillardia, is a perennial wildflower native to much of northern and western North America, where it grows in many habitats. It reaches maximum heights of 20-70 centimeters (7.9-28 inches). It has lance-shaped leaves near the base and several erect, naked stems holding the flowers. The flower head has a center of brownish to reddish disc florets and a fringe of ray florets that are about one to three cm. long and yellow to reddish with dark bases.
- Some Plateau Indian tribes used blanketflower to treat wounds and fevers.
- Gaillardia aristata is a widely cultivated ornamental plant, used as a perennial garden flower.
I planted Gaillardia aristata in my garden about six years ago and I love how profusely it blooms and how colorful it is. It reminded me of Mexican huipiles (wipiles), the colorful traditional garment worn by indigenous women in Mexico and Central America, so I gave it the name “Frida Kahlo”.
On arriving in Toronto, I found out that a few days before The Art Gallery of Ontario has opened the show “Frida and Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting”.
The provers did not know the story of Frida Kahlo, yet the feelings that started to emerge even before someone inquired about Kahlo’s story were: deep “mournful yearning”, broken heart, broken structures, broken bones and images of pools of fresh blood. Survival, passion and search for self-meaning and healing were also strong themes.
At the beginning of C3 – Third round of trituration – Jan, who had been to the exhibit the day before, brought into the room the book: Frida Kahlo: Retrospective, by Helga Prignitz-Poda; et.al., Prestel, NY. The provers looked through the book and were amazed to realize that the themes that were coming through in the proving were confirmed by the artist’s paintings.
My sense is that the nature of this substance is a strong survival instinct. The shadow side of that is the apprehension about not being able to survive the strong challenges that threaten the inner and outer integrity of being. Not surviving means disconnection, aloneness and loss. To make it through the challenges will require finding and holding onto the inner fire.
According to Jan Scholten’s Plant System:
The following is a sample of the main issues brought up by the proving. For the complete proving go to: www.greatlakesprovings.com
Strength in Surviving/Confidence
Jan: C2 Powerful flower, lots of strength
2: C2 The plant feels like a survivor. It does not matter what goes on you will come out the other side ok.
2: C3 One of the paintings depicts a person with roots in place of legs. The roots of a tree convey the idea of being grounded and rooted.
2: C3 I still think it is a strong stable plant. It will keep thriving no matter how many times you cut it back, it will come out on top of its game, cannot be broken down.
Fire/Inner Fire or Inner Source/Spiritual/Passion
1: C1 Vision of tribal people, maybe in Africa sitting around a wood fire talking about daily things. Some are joking. “How was your day? What did you do today?” Conversations at the end of the day about what happened during the day in a communal gathering.
3: C3 This plant is not as light as I thought. There is a lot of suffering in this (looking at Book on Frida Kahlo). I am not religious but what comes to me is drinking from the chalice of blood, bringing God or Source, or whatever into you. Somehow drinking from that blood of life. Blood is the source of life and God, Christ is spirit source for you.
1: C3 Having the resources to sustain life... The Inner fire. It is about tapping into your inner resources: the fire to repair. It is soul repair at the deep level.
3: C3 It has to do with the fire, bringing fire and light into oneself. Frida’s passion found an expression through her art. She found another passion; the solution is about finding another passion.
2: C3 That brings back the religious aspect: Passion, Easter, Crucifixion and Resurrection. His structure is repaired. Frida has all these images of nails in her paintings.
1: C3 That can be the soul that you are trying to get back to. Come back to the fire.
3: C3 Romance itself needs that fire, and you feel so good in that warm rich relationship that the soul is present there, as opposed to when that is not there.
3: C1 I get a perception of blood. The center of the plant and the color of my shirt reminds me of blood, blood, blood... Deep, red, thick blood. And I am not a bloody person, but that is what I am thinking. The flow of the blood... Cholesterol came to mind... Pumping blood... Circulatory system.
3: C2 I was thinking of Bordeaux red. Thinking of the color of the wine and the blood.
I think about blood and bone marrow... That rich thick stuff, hmmm. It usually tastes coppery. This blood I am seeing is not the simple blood from a little tiny cut. It is pretty powerful stuff. It is not the blood from a rare piece of meat either, which is not like this rich, thick stuff. I see a pool of thick blood (laughs); this is not the normal me at all. But it is not a bad feeling.
1: C2 The blood is a resource. It is the essence of life, if you wish, and you need that to live. It is also fiery.
2: C3: The blood is nurturing blood that is supposed to be for the baby. It is rich, core blood that allows the baby to survive, even if the mother dies.
1: C3 That is the placenta (looking at Kahlo’s book).
Mournful Longing/Broken Heart/Loss
3: C2 Though the feeling is heavy, it is not a very dark remedy or a dark substance. I feel a very deep feeling... depression would be too strong a word. I am not sure that it is sadness, but a deep mournful longing. It is not desire as in sexual desire or wanting something, but just a longing for something lost.
It is a mournful longing that is related to either something lost or something you have been searching for and not being able to find. Longing for a lost love or a waiting for a love that has not appeared.
It is not necessarily sad - there is no crying. It is a woeful expression, a yearning. That is a good word for it. It is a yearning that is somewhat heavy, but not quite grief. A lost love that has not died, cast away and gone away a great distance, so you cannot be together. It is more a soul connection that has not come to you, or that you cannot find... A sigh, something missing that you cannot reach, but that you really want. It is a deep red feeling. There is depth and substance to it.
Jan: C2 (continuing with Frida Kahlo’s story)... She married Diego Rivera in 1929. She was 20 years his junior. She was saddened by his many infidelities, including an affair with her sister Cristina. As a reaction to that betrayal Kahlo cut off most of her long dark hair. She suffered several miscarriages that some describe as additional heartbreaks. She and Rivera went through periods of separation. She also had affairs with men and women.
1: C3 The problem is that she (Frida) loved him (Diego) and he did not realized it or loved her back. He did not realize how much he loved her until she had died.
2: C3 A broken heart... Look at the painting “Without Hope” where she is in bed and vomiting out all the stuff. That is the mournful longing.
Structures/Broken Structures/Broken Bones
3: C2 Something about structure. I am making these lines at the bottom of the bowl as I triturate and scrape and it is forming a grid. To have strength is about having structure I think; maybe this is how it relates to bones and joints. Broken structures. It is also about the inner strength and inner structure about having structure in your life.
Jan: C2 She (Frida Kahlo) had polio at the age of 6. At 18, she had a horrible accident where the bus she was riding on collided with a trolley car. She broke her spinal column, a collarbone, a few ribs, her pelvis, had several fractures in her right leg, crushed her right foot, and an iron handrail pierced her abdomen and uterus.
3: C3 I am focusing now on the yellow in the flower - the community around the flame. The red at the center is the fire around the heart, the structure from the inside. If you left your inner structure you get it from the outside, from the community. The fire you are seeing, the blood and the structure are very connected.
1: C3 Look at “The Broken Column” on Page 147. She is open from the front with a view of the spine broken and mended with nails.
1: C3 The flower lost its identity somehow. Not being one way or the other way. What are we? Which way are we? There is irresolution: you cannot choose “shall I go left or right?” It is something very deep and it is not even a choice. It is how things turn out. Your greatest fears become realized when you become something that causes your partner to not be able to be with you.
3: C3 I am thinking about childbirth. That is in my head. You do not make that decision; that is why you are bleeding. If you stay in that middle you can get cut. There is ambivalence between one way and the other way.
3: C3 She (Frida) has a beautiful sketch of her lady parts, which is interesting. For the 1940’s, she was very on the edge.
1: C3 In looking at the photographs and the paintings Frida had some male characteristics that were pronounced, as the moustache and the unibrow. Her hormonal system was not in balance.
A Picture depicts a heart framing a face. Half of the face is hers and the other half is Diego’s. The first impression I get before I identify the faces, is confusion of gender identity that is the problem.
Connected/Disconnected/Not knowing one’s self or one’s strength
Jan: C2 What is the problem of this plant. What is the state?
1: C2 Lack of community.
1: C2 Being alone, not connected.
3: C2 Not knowing one self. Lack of confidence, not knowing your strength or that you have a strength. Feeling unable to burn brightly. Pull yourself together and stand up.
3: C1 Dryness from upper chest to the jaw and mouth. Tightness.
3: C1 This is not as much fun as it is supposed to be. I feel weak, not as if passing out weak, not really tired, more like a physical lessening of energy. Do not want to lift anything. I know it is all cool but.
2: C2 A lot of bone stuff for me.
3: C2 Yawning a lot.
Note: During C1 and C2 all the provers felt dehydrated and needed to drink water constantly.
3: C1 Pressure in the right temple.
3: C2 A burning pain at the top of my head, more burning than anything, better with pressure on the skull, not a headache.
1: C1 Sensation on the right eye, won’t call it a pain but sort of
2: C1 Slight headache over the right eye; circumscribed over the eye.
3: C1 Pressure in the right temple area with right eye contracting.
2: C1 Very serious expression.
2: C1 Red face.
2: C2 Pain at the crease of the smile. Leveled with the lower part of the nose.
3: C1 Having phlegm into my mouth but getting rid of it easily.
2: C2 Pin-point pain on the right TMJ - clicking when opening mouth.
3: C1 Suffocation, not being able to breathe.
3: C2 Constriction
3: C1 Burping, not easy swallowing and tightness in chest.
3: C1 Now I am having a little bit of reflux.
3: C2 Feeling of heartburn and I am attracted to that word now because it has the heart and the fire. More burning than I’ve ever gotten. I know it will be released.
1: C2 Heart burn right in the center below the sternum.
3: C2 Constriction in the solar plexus under the rib cage, more on the left, but I am sitting leaning that way.
Jan: C1 Oppression in chest and needing to take a deep breath.
3: C1 Burping, not easy swallowing and tightness in the chest.
2: C2 Fluttery feeling in my heart.
3: C1 Fear of suffocation that I will not be able to breathe.
1: C1 Sigh
Jan: C1 Sigh
Jan: C1 Oppression in chest and needing to take a deep breath.
2: C1 Sharp pain on the left ankle right at the malleolus, started abruptly and still there.
3: C1 Right shin pinpoint pain, not quite stabbing. It did go away shortly. It was right in the middle of the shin.
2: C2 For me a lot of joint pain.
3: C1 I am itchy in the head and right temple.
1: C1 (Rubbing back against the back of the chair) I was itchy before, but this is very strong.
1: C1 (Scratching incessantly) I am really itchy. (Everybody laughs) He scratches his head.
Jan: The Asteraceae family has strong lanthanide and carbon qualities. So the themes of finding your own self, the spiritual search, is a Lanthanide aspect. Wanting to have it reflected in the outside world is a carbon aspect. When you look at Frieda’s paintings you are looking at the inner world, not the outer world, which is a Lanthanide theme.
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