Apologies for the lateness of this episode of the Pagan Blog Project. Sickness and cold frame construction interfered with my usual writing schedule.
Ah, Forsythia, the perfect Ostara flower! Seeing this bright lady set her buds was once of the first signs of spring when I was growing up. My father would gather branches of it and stick them in vases throughout the house, bringing the first flowers of spring inside. During grade school, my friends and I made a small hut under its sheltering branches, naming it the “House of Four Sister,” which we imagined to be the hidden secret of forsythia’s name.
Later, when I worked at a garden center, I would shake my head in amazement every spring as swarms of landscapers loaded up their trucks with dozens of forsythia shrubs, priced at $10.99 each—this is one of the simplest plants to root and propagate. The idea that someone would pay upwards of $200 for an instant hedge of what would likely take over the garden was a great source of amusement for most of the greenhouse crew.
Mostly an asian species, forsythia is named for Scottish botanist and head royal gardener, William Forsyth (a somewhat more mundane source than what my friends and I imagined). It doesn’t have any uses in Western herbal medicine that I could find, but one variety, Forsythia suspensa, is one of the 50 Fundamental Herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. The green fruit, sans seeds, is used in herbal preparations. It is thought to be bitter and cold, and thus associated with heart, lung, and gallbladder meridians. It is used to treat fever and headache, as well as to detoxify the body.*
Magically, I’m on my own for this plant. Neither Cunningham, Beyerl, or Hopman have anything to say about the nature of Forsythia. Because of its bitter/cold nature, I’d first associate it with Air, and then Mercury, as it helps to move things through the body. This is further reinforced by its early Spring bloom time and expansive rooting tendencies.
*Usual disclaimer: don’t take medical advice from a blog on Druidry. There are better and more creative ways to win a Darwin Award.