Gorse, Furze, Whin. Aiteann.
The thorny nature of the plant means that it is often viewed as having protective powers. the all-year-round blossom being a symbol of continuous fertility.
In homeopathy furze is used to help people who have given up hope, who have no faith in the future. It puts people in touch with their own inner resources and helps them move forward by releasing courage and determination.
As one of the sacred trees, furze was included in the Celtic Beltane bonfires. The stock would be herded between these for purification and protection before being released onto the summer grazing. When this tradition diminished, torches of furze were still carried around the herds and farm buildings in order to cleanse the air and protect the animals against sterility.
Furze is closely associated with the sun god Lugh, the Celtic god of light and genius and with the Spring Equinox, at which time it’s one of the only plants in full flower. However folklore attaches it to festivals throughout the spring and summer months as a symbol of the power of the sun. In Brittany the Celtic festival of Lughnasdagh, on August 1st, is known as The Festival of Golden Gorse.
As an evergreen that flowers the whole year round, furze is seen to carry within it a spark of the sun’s life giving energy, a spark that can be seen even through the darker winter months. It is a symbol of encouragement and a promise of good things to come. Furze tells us to remain focused and optimistic, even in the darkest days. To keep hopeful and remain constant throughout the inevitable periods of difficulty we all experience.
As one of the first spring flowering plants, the furze provides a plentiful supply of pollen for bees when they first come out of hibernation. The product of the bees labour, honey, is the Celtic symbol of wisdom, achieved through hard work and dedication. The furze tells us that if we apply ourselves and keep faith in the future, we will be rewarded. However bleak things may appear there is always the possibility of periods of fertility, creativity and well being. Whilst its thorns remind us that there is protection from unwanted ideas or influences.
The bush is associated with boundaries, fertility, sun’s life giving energy, wisdom, achieved through hard work and dedication. To keep hopeful and remain constant throughout the inevitable periods of difficulty we all experience.
The plant is a dense, much branched, stunted shrub, growing up to 2–3 metres. It is evergreen, but the leaves are very minute and fall off early, not being present in the older stages, when they take the form of long, thread-like spines, which are straight and furrowed, or branching. The stem is hairy and spreading.