There’s a podcast I’ve been devouring (you know, with my ears) since it was recommended to me in July: “Harry Potter & the Sacred Text.” I could (and may) write a whole post about that show. But for now I want to focus on a word it put into my consciousness, “florilegia.”
Florilegia is a variation of a practice that I (and maybe you) have been doing in one way or another my whole life: collecting and noting down phrases that sparkle for me as I read. Though this practice dates back to medieval times, it holds something new for me: it asks that we take these little plucked flowers from the text and replant them beside one another. Reading them this way, separated from the original source, they can offer us new insights, spurring us to find unseen depth through a newly contextualized examination.
And look how pretty my book is!
The word itself is actually the plural of “florilegium,” but as I plan to put several “reading gardens” in my little florilegia book (it has enough room for many beyond the “garden” I’m currently plucking from Elizabeth Glaskell’s Cranford), I stand by my use of the more mellifluous word.
I look forward to continuing the practice and perhaps sharing some of the treasures I find — standing alone or planted together — in the future.
Side note: anyone who knew came to my house in high school may have been witness to another, more visual kind of florilegium I kept, though I didn’t know to call it that: my “wall.” The a-frame walls/ceilings of my attic bedroom were plastered with clippings and ephemera from my life, carefully curated and laid out into a kind of spastic collage. When we moved out of that house, I took down these panels and saved them in a scrapbook I rarely look at. I cracked it open today to share a glimpse here, but be forewarned: I’m really struggling to choose which panel is least embarrassing!