White Orchid Meaning and Symbolism (Humility & Purity)

The white orchid is often thought to symbolize faith, humility, loneliness, beauty, reverence, and innocence and features in the folklore and legends of many cultures around the world.

White Orchid Meaning and Symbolism

Orchids are not just displayed in gardens and inside houses, they are also featured in many folk tales, legends, and symbols in different cultures.

The orchid has actually been around for more than 120 million years, based on fossils that have been discovered.

However, it only became popular around 4,000 years ago when it was used for medicinal purposes by Emperor Shen Nung, the father of Chinese agriculture and Chinese medicine. 

With over 25,000 species and present in practically every continent except Antarctica, Orchids are probably one of the most well-known flowers in the world.

Orchids were also mentioned in literature by famous philosopher Confucius around 500 BC because of the fragrance from the flower, and in 300BC by Greek scholar Theoprasus, who was a student of Aristotle and also known as the father of Botany. 

Remember that symbolism is subjective. The below are examples of possible interpretations only, and may not be the correct interpretations for you and your situation.

Symbols and Meanings of the White Orchid: Weddings, Purity

White Orchid

Simply by its color, white orchids are immediately associated with purity or virtue and are popular in wedding banquets or in places of worship.

It is a highly valued flower, and one of its variants, the White Nun orchid (Monja Blanca), is even used as the national flower of Guatemala

Because of their color, white orchids are favorites for bridal bouquets as the ivory shade complements the bride’s gown and veil, giving off a pure and innocent vibe.

By itself, the flower also gives off an elegant and sophisticated feel, making it stand out when placed together with other more colorful blooms.

The shade also goes well with other wedding accessories and adds an element of spirituality to the occasion. This makes the flower a favorite among florists as well.

The white orchid is also a perfect give for a close friend or relative to signify deep regard and respect for that person.

It can also be gifted during christenings, or to celebrate the birth of a new baby, as the flower also represents feelings of gratitude, humility, and pure love.

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White Orchid in Dreams: Nostalgia for Innocence or Regret

White Orchid

There are contradicting beliefs as to the meaning of white orchids in dreams. Some say that the appearance of a white orchid in your dream is a sign of loneliness, while others say it is a reminder to be humble and grateful.

Most of the time, the actual meaning depends on the specific scenario in the dream: 

White Orchid DreamPossible Interpretation
Seeing a white orchid from afarCould mean that you have encountered someone whom you feel is very different from others that you have known. You feel a sense of alienation as the person is not easy to get close to. 
Looking or staring at orchids quietlyHints at a desire to return to simpler, more innocent times. You may be feeling troubled at something that is happening around you, or you may be in the middle of a conflict that you do not know yet how to get out of. 
Watching someone else pick a bunch of orchidsMay signify regret for a missed opportunity. There may have been some things that you have always wanted to do but have held yourself back from doing, and the regret has stayed in your subconscious for a long time. 

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The White Orchid in Myths and Legends

White Orchid

As a flower with such a long and rich history, it does not come as a surprise that the orchid has been mentioned in many pieces of literature over the years.

Stories about the white orchid, including its origin and its involvement in the lives of gods and goddesses, have been passed through many generations and to different countries.

However, not all stories about white orchids are of a fictional nature. There are quite a few anecdotes that can actually be traced back to a real event or an authentic historical document, such as the writings of Confucius describing the pleasant smell of the flower. Others, however, relate the orchid to many mystical events and legends. 

White Orchids in Greek Mythology

White Orchid

One such legend talks about how the flower originated from Orchis, a boy who committed a grave offense during a feast for Dionysus, the god of wine, and was punished with death.

Upon the appeal of his father, Orchis was resurrected, but not as a human. Instead, he was turned into a plant, which is what we now know as the orchid. 

Because of this, and because of the flower’s appearance that is said to resemble the male organ, the plant has been associated with virility and fertility.

Early Greeks even believed that eating certain parts and varying sizes of the plant can determine whether they will give birth to a boy or a girl.

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White Orchids in Mexican Legends

White Orchid

For the Totonacs of Mexico, orchids have a deeper meaning. It is said that one of the orchid species, the vanilla orchid, sprouted from the spilled blood of star-crossed lovers.

The story speaks of a beautiful princess whose life was offered to Tonoacayohua, the goddess of harvest.  However, she fell in love at first sight with a warrior prince whom she met at the temple. 

They tried to elope one day and were killed as punishment, but on the place of their death, there bloomed an orchid that was said to release a scent that was more fragrant than the incense offered to the gods. 

White Orchids in Maori Folklore

White Orchid

A story from New Zealand, on the other hand, connects the origin of the orchids to the rainbow. The Maoris believe that flower had divine origins, when the earth was still inhabited by immortals. 

It was said that when the rainbow first appeared in the sky, the immortals were so entranced that they all crowded together and gathered at the top of the rainbow. 

But the rainbow was not able to support their weight, and so it collapsed. The broken pieces then fell into the earth and grew into numerous colorful blossoms which are now called orchids.

Read More: Symbolism of Rainbows

Because of this story, the white orchid is treated as a mystical flower by the Maoris, and has been associated with power and magic, such as the ability to ward off evil spirits, keeping peace and order in a household, and attracting positive energy. 

How to Interpret Spiritual Symbolism

Interpreting symbolism and spiritual meanings is subjective and deeply personal. The symbolic meanings listed in this article are examples of potential interpretations, but might not be true for your situation.

Make sure you meditate and journal about your vision. Reflect on what you saw and think about what message you think is relevant to you and your life right now.

This doesn’t mean choosing the message you want to hear, but the one you think you need to hear at this point in your life. Only you can decide which meaning is the right one for your situation.

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Conclusion

White orchids are beautiful, elegant-looking flowers that will look good in any home or garden, thus making them a favorite plant of home decorators and horticulturists.

With thousands of species and various colors available, there is surely a type of orchid to match any occasion.

The White Orchid, with its pure and elegant appearance, can be an ideal gift for celebrations or used to simply mark new beginnings. Giving it as a gift can be a sign of humility but is also often given to girls as a sign of their apparent purity and gracefulness.

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