Most of the homes in that long ago and far away neighborhood where I spent a large part of my youth had forsythias growing somewhere hear the house. Each spring they would bloom, without having any leaves, sometime even when snow was still on the ground. I was sure these plants were magic. So sure in fact the first shrub I bought for my first home was a forsythia.
The forsythias, natives of southeastern Europe and China, are members of the olive family,which accounts for the rich olive oil fragrance of the cut branches. During the 18th century Robert Fortune was sent to China, where most of the 11 species of forsythia grow, by the Royal Horticultural Society to find blue flowering peonies, and to learn about the varieties of peaches grown in the Emperor's gardens, and new varieties of tea. The Chinese grew it mainly as an ornamental plant, however it is not considered toxic and was used to treat colds.
The Victorians, who assigned a meaning to almost all flowers chose Anticipation for the forsythia. Which seem more than appropriate to me.
Unlike many other flowers the forsythias four petaled blooms only come in one color, an uplifting sunny yellow that against the drab browns of early spring is so welcome to a winter weary heart. I haven't been able to find any superstitions built around this flower , I like to think it is because it does signal the arrival of Spring. There was a mention of the forsythia's blooming starting the so called "onion and garlic snows".
Forsythia Magic, Legends and Folklore
Sometime between Ostara and Beltane, you’ll probably start to see the bright yellow blooms of forsythia plants appearing. This early spring flower is associated with the sun, thanks to its yellow flowers, and it seems to have an uncanny ability to blossom without any care or tending whatsoever – it’s not uncommon to find random forsythia plants in full bloom at properties long since abandoned.
- According to some legends, once the forsythia flowers begin to bloom, it means you’ll still have three more snowfalls before the winter is truly over.
- During the Victorian era, flowers were assigned special meanings, as part of a “secret language of flowers.” The forsythia is associated with anticipation. Use forsythia in workings related to things you hope to see happen in the long-term. Also consider using it in divination workings – after all, knowing things in advance leads to anticipation!
- Forsythia is a hardy plant that blooms with little to no maintenance – try using it in magical workings related to longevity and sustainability of your goals.
- If you do any work with numerology, forsythia is associated with the number four. This in turn is connected to the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water – as well as the cardinal directions and the four seasons. Four is sometimes connected to creativity. In Chakra energy work, the heart is the fourth chakra, and so it relates to emotions and our compassion towards others.
- Pagan author Laurie Cabot, in her book Love Magic, recommends clipping a few forsythia stalks and placing them in a jar of water on your altar to bring love your way – as the buds begin to open up and flower, so will your love life.
- There’s a Korean legend that tells the story of man returning to his wife after a long journey, and finding her waiting by a forsythia bush. He was struck by her beauty, and vowed to never take their love for granted again.