Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Groovy Green Craft Practitioner Series: Common Lilac or Syringia

DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.

This article will talk about that beautiful and fleeting bloom that graces the garden in clusters of heavenly hues known as the common lilac or syringia (Syringa vulgaris). This flower means a lot to me, as it is one of my quintessential flowers for mourning. Indeed, I lost my Grandmother this last week as the sea of its colors are flooding the Michigan landscape. She was 100 years old, so I shall take a special moment to write on this flower in memory of her. We shall all wear purple in her memory, as she was our queen.
Jacob Sturm: Deutschlands Flora in Abbildungen (1796)
The lilac is identifiable by its cluster of blossoms, four petals each. A common folk belief among those from Ukraine and Russia is that if you find a lilac with five petals, it is very lucky, like a four-leaf clover. There are many hybrids, but all belong to the Syringa family.
Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), as the name implies, is the best known of all the lilacs in the United States. This shrub can be as tall as 20 feet, and the flowers are fragrant and usually lilac-colored,although they can be of other hues. Leaves are somewhat heart shaped and smooth. –
For the graceful gourmand, this is the time to gather your fleeting flowers. A simple sugar made from the bruised petals is a wonderful treat for spring teas. Lilac butter on scones is tasty, as well. But I believe that for many, the syrups are the best known.
Pexels -Valeria Boltneva
For the more adventurous, might I suggest a little bit of a nip? Holly and Flora have an intriguingly easy recipe for a drink called Lilac Haze. Imagine a spring mixer with this unusual refreshment. Perhaps it could be the highlight of the Mother’s Day afternoon brunch.
Those who know me personally, know I make herbal honeys. It is a sweet way of remembrance of springtime. I shall make a honey for my Grandmother to remember her, also. I shall also include it in what I place in her coffin. Sweetness among the sorrow. Here is a simple recipe at Feral Botanicals.
True story: Grandma was a bit of a germ free person. You had to wash your hands all the time, boil her water before she drank it, and so on. However, when my daughter, Brenna, gave her an orange mint honey she made as a gift, Grandma stuck her finger right in and ate it. She doted on her great-granddaughter that much. It was her favorite gift from us. So honey shall be my gift to her. She was very fond of honey. She even used to feed a pet Raccoon from its own honey pot, as a child.
My honey jars – Kenya Coviak, All Rights Reserved

For our healers, the lilac has been said to be a good massage oil infusion. Especially for those prone to redness. It allegedly also helps with rheumatism. Making an infused oil would be a great addition to your healer’s kit. But remember, always check for allergies. There are other uses as well, and a naturopath could be a source of training in these.
Lilac leaves can also be used for fever treatment and numerous children diseases, liver congestion, weak digestion and diarrhea, cough, bronchitis, increased body temperature, kidney stones, high blood pressure. – Health Tips Source

Ok, now folklore is out there. It is not hard to find the story of Pan chasing a nymph named Syringa who changed herself into the lilac. She was not having any parts of Goat God Boy. When he thought he was grabbing her, he wound up holding a bunch of reeds. 
 
He sighed then, and when the sound of it merged with the wind in the reeds, it made music. Hermes suggested he make an instrument, and this became what we now call the Syrinx, or Pan pipes. You probably have guessed what hollowed out wood is traditionally used for them by now. Yep, the lilac. 
 
You can also carve other things out of lilac wood, you know.
 
 
 
Here is a sweet article on the lilac by Olga Ikebanova at Frangrantica.  It is not surprising that in aromatherapy, the scent of lilac is also used to treat depression. It is often through stories and allegories that we remember the properties of a herb, flower, plant, or tree.
 
Let us speak of magick now. This is an interesting plant. On one side of its story, it is used for flirtation, beauty, and love. On another face, it is used for protection and banishment. Still another property is that of transitions from life to death, remembrance, and dealing with ghosts. This sweet shrub is truly a precious gift.
 
Jennifer Shepherd at the Lipstick Mystic shares some useful insights in the use of this shrub for protection of the home. I know a witch who planted it specifically at her home due to a ghost problem, so it seems to be a tried and true measure against unwanted energetic invasion. It can also be made into a wreathe for a ward (that is my suggestion).
 
Because my Grandma was a lover of dolls, I shall share with you an activity for this flower. Take it as you will. I give it freely here, in memory of her.
 
Gather up two pillow cases full of the flowers. From one, boil the blooms until they reduce to half in a large pot of water. Then use this liquid to dye a white pillow case. The color will surprise you.
 
Reserve a small saucer of the flowers from the other pillow case to make into an oil. Fill a small glass jar with them and cover with grapeseed oil, or some other oil without a heavy scent. Let sit for about 2 weeks. OR place into a double boiler on low for a few hours until the scent is strong in the bottle.
 
Next, dry the other blooms until brittle. Do this in brown paper bags. That way the moisture will wick away.
 
Now, get out your sewing kit. cut a simple doll pattern from half the pillow case, a front and back, and sew it together – leaving the top open. Stuff the doll with the dried flowers, which you will scent also with the oil.
 
Make an apron, or dress, and a bonnet for it from the rest of the pillow case. Now give it to a child, or keep it yourself. This is a good protection against unwanted dreams. It is also a pick me up from sadness. Enchant as you would any other object, with good energy and wishes.
 
Here is a lovely rendition of a “Lilac Wine” cover performed by Miley Cyrus.
 
This piece is dedicated to the memory and life of Earlene Bentley North-Horner (1917-2017).
 
 

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