“Nectar is for butterflies and hummingbirds,” Hannah tells me. And so I look up nectar to see what I can find. There’s a lot about how nectar is an attractor for pollinators, and how it often smells good to attract the birds, bugs, and bats it wishes to have come by and drink from it. These creatures gather pollen on their bodies and then distribute it to the other flowers in the general area making it possible for flowers to make fruit and seeds and continue to grow the next year. So nectar is a part of the cycle of fruitfulness of a plant. But the word nectar is supposedly a compound of nec meaning death, and tar meaning to overcome. So nectar also overcomes death, and as such was like ambrosia a drink of the gods. Much more than simply one element within the cycle of creating fruit, but in fact the quaff of life. Nectar provides the flow of energy that sustains butterflies and hummingbirds as they fly from flower to flower. Nectar is one of the primary ingredients in honey. Without the first sweetness of nectar there would be no fruit harvest.
But nectar is not simply sweet, or only nurturing. Some nectar includes toxins so that the pollinator will only visit for a brief moment before moving on to the next source. Some nectar is not found within the flower but exists on other parts of the plant and attracts fighting insects that will protect the plant from predatory creatures. So nectar can be used to attract defense, or even to manage fruition. Like the ancient great mother goddesses, nectar is used by the plant for both nurturing and punishing. The sustenance of new life requires both love and judgement, both abundance and boundaries.
The joy of watching a butterfly fly from one flower to the next drinking from each, is also wonderful. If butterflies are a symbol of the soul, and nectar is the overcoming of death, than watching this dance is a little like watching the continuous magic of resurrection, or a spring rite in which the power of ever lasting life is manifested. Maybe instead of putting out hummingbird feeders, the Wonder Bread of the spring rites, we could all plant more nectar producing flowers and as a result strengthen the living soul of the planet.