Healing the Shadow Aspect of Apollo ~ Using Sunflower as the Antidote

Posted by Candice Covington on

 There are many aspects to Apollo, the following focuses on healing the shadow aspects that arise from his archetype, using Sunflower as the antidote.  


  • Symbolism: Clarity, Form, Law and Order
  • Divine Associations: Apollo, The Sun
  • Astrological Association: Sun

 “Apollo rejects whatever is too near –entanglement in things, the melting gaze, and equally, soulful merging, mystical inebriation and its ecstatic vision.”

-Walter F. Otto, The Homeric Gods

The word sunflower comes from the Greek ‘Helianthus,’ ‘helios’ meaning ‘sun’ and ‘anthos’ meaning ‘flower.’ It is Greek mythology that provides us with one story of the origin of the sunflower:

"Apollo, having loved her [Clytie], abandoned her for Leucothea and left her deserted. She [Clytie] was so angered by his treatment that she told Leucothea's father, Orchamus, about the affair. Since Apollo had defiled Leucothea, Orchamus had her put to death by burial alive in the sands. Clytie had wanted Apollo back and had wanted to win him back by taking away his new love, but her actions only hardened Apollo's heart against her. She sat naked, with neither food nor drink, for nine days on the rocks, staring at the sun, Apollo, and mourning his departure. After nine days, the suffering turned her yellow and brown, and she was transformed into a sunflower …which turns its head always to look longingly at Apollo's chariot of the sun." This story is told in Ovid's Metamorphoses,4.  [i]

Understanding Apollo the Archetype:

Apollo could see clearly from afar and observe the details of life with an overview perspective; he could aim for a target and hit it with his bow and arrows, or create harmony with his music. As an archetype, Apollo personifies the aspect of the personality that wants clear definitions, is drawn to master a skill, values order and harmony, and prefers to look at the surface rather than at what underlies appearances. The Apollo archetype favors thinking over feeling, distance over closeness, objective assessments over subjective intuition. The man [individual] who most closely conforms to the Apollo archetype has attributes that will hold him in good stead in the world. He can succeed in a career and can master a classical art form easier than most people can.[ii]

To help further our understanding of the Apollo archetype, it is helpful to know what was inscribed on his temple:

Curb thy spirit.
Observe the limit.
Hate hubris (pride).
Keep a reverent tongue.
Fear authority.
Bow before the divine.
Glory not in strength.
Keep women under rule.[iii]

The sunflower was depicted in the Victorian language of flowers as one that blindly follows the sun, thus the sunflower was used as a symbol of infatuation or foolish passion. This interpretation ties into the myth shared above of Clytie and Apollo, and speaks of unhealthy infatuation and misplaced passion. 

Not all cultures used the sunflower to depict foolish love; in Peru, the Aztecs worshiped sunflowers, placing sunflower images made of gold in their temples and crowning princesses in the bright yellow flowers. The sunflower is a healing flower associated with the 3rd Chakra (in part the power center that radiates personal power, consciousness, action, self-worth, and will). It is interesting to note that the third chakra is traditionally understood to be the intellectual center of the body, from which linear intelligence springs, producing the pitta body type that is known for fiery intelligence and will. 

In most cultures the Sunflower is associated with the energy, warmth, happiness and longevity of the sun. The Chinese consider the flowers as a symbol of longevity and it was consumed by the royal family to enhance their lifespan. It is also their good luck charm for the new beginnings. According to an ancient Christian belief, sunflower reflects God’s love and stands for unwavering faith in Him.

The sunflower oil as a topical application is effective for addressing bruises and sprains. It also leaves the skin smooth and non-greasy. Constituents: High in linoleic acid, vitamins E, A, and D. Aroma: Slight. Color: Clear pale yellow. Taste: Slight.

It is interesting to see the vibrational signatures of sunflowers, and how they work at healing the shadow issues associated with the ruling deity of this plant: problems communicating in a soft manner, inability to be intimate, rejection, narcissism, being distant, 'my way is the only right way', punishing another 'for their own good', and being rigid. 


Remember when using a flower essence you are invoking it's whole signature, take everything discussed here into account, if you would like to tap into a specific aspect, focus on that before use.

Whispering Winds Sunflower Essence: Helps to heal the energy around non-equality of women, narcissism, being cruel or punitive. Valuing a point of view that differs from self. Helps one open to a radiant emotional life, and understanding the importance of the emotional body. Expands one’s ability to create order, organization, experience moderation, personal discipline, helps develops the left brain, dynamic action and expands appreciation and execution of the classical arts.

Our vibrational essences are stabilized in a matrix of Elder Flower and tastes like sunshine, happiness and positive expectations. 1 oz . $14.50 

Use: Try savoring 3 drops on your tongue, add to your bath or diffuser, or use in a blend with aromatherapy or other flower essences 


[i] “Clytie”

[ii] Bolen, p. 135

[iii] Bolen, p. 134

 Bolen, Jean Shinoda, M.D. Gods in Everyman: Archetypes that Shape Men’s Lives. 1989. New York: Quill, 2003.



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