In the Garden
Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
*Also known as French lilac
Lilac is a multi-stemmed shrub that reaches twelve to fifteen feet tall and can spread eight to twelve feet across. It is widely loved for its fragrant flowers that bloom in April and May. The four-lobed, tubular flowers grow in large, hanging, pyramidal clusters. They range from white to lilac to purple. The pointed, heart-shaped leaves are gray-green or blue-green. The delightful fragrance of lilacs is so popular that many arboretums have a special event called lilac Sunday so people can enjoy them in full bloom.
Lilac’s genus name comes from the Greek word syrinx meaning tube or pipe. Syringa was originally applied to what is now the Philadelphus genus of mock orange because of its pipe-like stems. At that time the mock orange shrub and lilac were classified together. However, in the seventeenth century when these plants were separated into their own genera, the name Syringa stayed with the lilac.48
According to folklore in England, white lilacs were considered unlucky to wear except on May Day. If a lilac bush was cut down, it was believed that other lilacs in the area would mourn and not produce flowers the following year. Other folklore indicated that the lilac was used for weather divination. If the blossoms faded quickly, the summer would be warm; if it flowered late, the summer season would be rainy.
Although it was once customary to plant lilacs in front of a house, growing it anywhere on your property will invite nature spirits and fairies to take up residence. Place a vase of fresh-cut flowers by your bed to enhance dream work and foster prophetic dreams. The scent of lilacs also aids divination, clairvoyance, and helps in accessing past-life memories. Place flowers on your desk or workspace to increase creativity. Fresh flowers on your altar enhance an esbat ritual or any lunar workings. Fresh or dried flowers are effective in spells to attract love. Dried leaves and flowers can be burned for defensive magic and to break hexes. In addition to repelling negative energy, the smoke aids in banishing unwanted spirits.
Lilac is associated with the element water and with fairies. Its astrological influence comes from Mercury, the moon, and Venus.
Figure 13. Lilac is associated with the rune Eihwaz.