Tag Archives: signs

Is an Artichoke Just an Artichoke?


Four Artichokes © 2009 Charlene Nevill

Answers to our questions come to us in many ways, but most of the time we aren’t listening and we don’t see what’s right in front of us. But lately, I’ve been paying attention to everything that crosses my path looking for signs and omens. So when I opened my front door one morning recently and saw four big artichokes laid out neatly on a piece of newspaper at the base of a street lamp, I had to wonder if Spirit was trying to tell me something. If it had been just one artichoke in the middle of the street or at the edge of the sidewalk, I wouldn’t have noticed. But this was unusual. And it’s the oddity – the thing out of place – that’s meant to grab us and wake us up.

So what could this possibly mean? The edible flower bud of a thistle-like plant in the sunflower family, the artichoke was considered a delicacy and an aphrodisiac by ancient Greeks and Romans and was thought to be effective in securing the birth of boy babies. Other than the Greek connection, I wasn’t feeling that the artichokes had a message for me.

But how about the number four? In many cultures, ceremonies and ritual acts are repeated in fours. In Hinduism, four represents totality, plenitude, and perfection. In Greek mythology, four is the sacred number of Hermes, messenger of the gods. And Hermes is the patron saint of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, helping them have a safe and easy journey. This was beginning to look like a good omen after all! It is believed that the ancient Greeks would sacrifice to Hermes before traveling. Maybe I could sacrifice some artichokes.