Today’s card is the Gorse, also known as Ulex gallii in scientific terms. Gorse is another bush that is one of our Green Man spirits on this journey for a good reason. Strongly associated with faeries, who were said to hide in the shrub on Beltane eve, thus giving it the nickname ‘faery tree’. In the 19th century an old woman was discovered by neighbors lying in her bed covered by bundles of gorse flowers and claiming that it was ‘ to keep the faeries away’. This tale speaks to the plant’s ability to protect and to attract/appease the faery folk. Gorse flowers bloom nearly all year with the exception of the coldest part of the winter. Because of its light and airy nature when dried, it makes extremely good started fuel for lighting a fire. During the summer months, people who know of its properties would keep a fresh bundle of gorse in their old fireplaces to ‘hold space’ for the spirit of fire and as a reminder of the light of the Sun. This was also believed to help keep negative spirits and energies from entering the house via the chimney while the fire was extinguished.
Also sacred to the Celtic god, Lugh, who was the god of inspiration and skill, this plant is called the Golden Gorse. It is associated with the great fires burnt on Lughnasadd, the early harvest festival held in his honor each year on August 1st. One of Lugh’s nicknames was Samildanach, the many gifted, for he claimed himself to be a harper, hero, historian, magician, astrologer, and cook, among other things. In this way, he is thought to be able to inspire people in almost every field of activity. There is also an old saying that goes “When gorse is in bloom, kissing is in season”. This implies that love is perpetually in the air and since gorse is a creature of fire, it is also linked to sexual desire and passion. Lugh was believe to carry a great spear of light (phallic symbol) that could raise a worshipper to a state of ‘inspired ecstacy’ with its very touch. This is probably another reason why gorse might be linked with Beltane, as this rite celebrated the union (procreation) of the God and Goddess whose passionate All-Being created everything in existence.
The Ogam letter for this tree is Onn, or the letter O. This seems fitting for the gorse as it relates to THE BIG “O” as we call it in modern times. It also meant ‘helper of horses’ in the Druid’s secret language; the horse is a creature of fire and is known for its swiftness of motion and its power. The Green Man wisdom here is “Fertility Wakes a Fire in the Mind” and the idea of fertility is not just that of human or animal procreation but that of the mind’s inspiration and productiveness. This Green Man suggests that the imagination awakens a fire in the mind and that the link between Earth’s fertility and human imagination is correlative. This card asks us to tend the garden of our fertile imaginations and find ways in which we can reconnect with the Mother. In doing this, we can find happiness, healing, and wholeness. When we reconnect with Nature, we reconnect with ourselves, and enter an ecstatic state of profusion with new ideas and ways of life that enrich us and lend a greater balance of the collective soul. This also allows us to dance through life with passion rather than just putting one foot in front of the other.
Today, may you feel inspired to play with new ideas and inspirations as you dance your way down the path to enlightenment!