Sturt’s Desert Pea

The state symbol for South Australia, the Aboriginal people call this beautiful, vibrant red flower the ‘flower of blood.’ It is also considered a symbol of the blood spilt during the invasion and the following years of European settlement. The Dreaming for this flower, from which the Aboriginal name originates, also focuses upon a very tragic theme.

An archetypal story of doomed love, a young couple elope against the wishes of their kin (she is already betrothed to another), leaving the woman’s tribe to live with the man’s people far away. The woman eventually bears a child, a son whom the couple love dearly. The woman has a gift for channeling the songs of the spirits, and would often sing their words. One day they warn of impending danger and also of immortality for their son. The woman warns her husband but he is too complacent, disregarding the message as foolishness. Shortly afterwards, in the dark of night, the woman’s former betrothed sneaks upon them and he and his men slaughter them all – man, woman and child. Their blood stains the soil and the boy’s body is transformed into the first Sturt’s Desert Pea – his immortal life is begun. A season later, the man returns to gloat over the bones and finds instead the flowers growing abundantly. The Great Spirit, in retribution, sends down a bolt of lightning, killing him instantly and transforming his body into a rock, which is shattered into millions of pieces. The tears of the grief-stricken song spirits dry and turn to salt, causing the salinity of the lakes in that region.[1]

This flower symbolises pain and endings, perhaps representing a loss of enthusiasm or something ending in your life, if encountered. Yet this loss in the Dreaming results in something beautiful – the Sturt’s Desert Pea! The flower appears as if it has a black eye in its heart. When something is black it normally denotes something very negative or even evil, however we can choose to regard this part of the flower as that part of us which can see through any pain and suffering to view the immortality or unchanging aspects of our spirituality.

Flowers of Blood bring a poignant reminder to listen to that still, small voice within, the song spirits of our intuition. There is a challenge to put action behind any precognition of danger, (“you can’t prevent what you can’t predict” to quote “Black Anna.”)  Seek to actively avert any conceivable negativity before it can happen. The solace Sturt’s Desert Pea can bring is that there is a higher purpose behind every tragedy in life, and if something appears wrong, then the laws of karma will certainly even things out in the long run!


[1]               Mountford, Charles P. “The Dreamtime.”  Reed, A.W.  “Aboriginal Myths, Legends & Fables.” White, Ian. “Australian Bush Flower Essences.”