Recent Posts

Lilacs – Queen of the Shrubs

Lilacs balance the spirit and the intellect; contact with the spirit is imminent

Ted Andrews, Nature Speak

 

 

The Queen of Shrubs, lilacs in bloom, really signify spring. Before the current western calendaring, May 1st was the beginning of Spring, as celebrated in May Day and Beltane festivals. Lilacs enchanting fragrance can be used in meditation to call your spirit guides and raise the vibrations of nature spirits. The wood awakens mental clarity.

Fairies live in lilacs; they are one of the plants that grant access to the Faerie Realm.  The fairies and elves fill the blossoms that aid in calling protective spirits. Each flower often has a fairy associated with it. The lilac fairy communicates musically. They help to harmonize your life and activate greater clairvoyance.

Lilacs start blooming at the time of the Celtic Beltane. This is the halfway point between the Spring equinox and Summer solistic.  It may be why they regarded this bundle of intoxicating fragrances as magical.

 

Meanings

Lilacs have many meanings with an emphasis on expressing love or affection:

During Victorian times one belief was that lilacs brought into a home where a sick person was recovering, they might relapse.  This myth is that, at the time, lilacs were rare and valuable.  The owners did not want employees cutting branches for themselves.

Another is the strong scent of lilacs would overpower those who were dying associating them with death.

In WWI mothers received news of sons by messengers carrying lilacs.

Blooms were given to widows in remembrance of love lost.

And yet, young ladies wearing a lilac blossom was destined to be single forever. Lilacs bouquets were sent when one wished to break an engagement. A past love would send lilacs to remind the recipient of a first love.

Lilacs are a symbol of self-esteem and confidence, making them a good gift for anyone who accomplish a project. The giver is expressing confidence for the recipient.

Lilacs are the state flower of New Hampshire, representing the spirit of its people. One of the first places where lilacs were planted in the US. The oldest ones are believed to be planted in 1750 by the Royal Governor Benning Wentworth in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew lilacs. They are one of the first plants grown in American botanical gardens.

In Russia, newborns gain wisdom by holding lilac blooms above them.

King Uroš I, Nemanjić of Serbian, welcomed his future queen, Helen of Anjou, by planting purple lilacs found from her home in Provence.

 

Colors

Lilacs come in an array of colors you can plan for early, mid or late season bloom times.  In general, they represent different types of love and emotions. Lilacs are associated with first love or the first time one feels love for someone.

Blue represent tranquility. Pastel shades for baby boys. Soft blue is happiness.

Mauve or blue are a request of marriage.

Magenta symbolizes passion and deep love.

Pink is associated with love and strong friendships.

Purple aligns and balances the chakras. It is a symbol of the emotions that come with the first time one is in love. With the association with death, purple was an alternative to black for mourning or for remembering somber anniversaries.

Dark reds are love and the passion of being alive, especially after surviving a harrowing experience.

Violet is spirituality.

 

White, when offered by a young man, symbolizes the purity of his intentions. A great bloom for those who are innocence and youthful.

Yellow for freshness and spring.

 

 

 

The Science

Lilacs are in the genus Syringa within the of olive family (Oleaceae) originating from the temperate area of Europe and Asia. Technically a tree, it grows more like a shrub.  Lilacs have been cultivated for over 700 years. Caterpillars of butterflies and moths use lilacs to begin their annual transformation. The nectar of the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is desired by bees and butterflies. Lilac blooms are used in cosmetics, perfumes, and aromatherapy.

What is in a word?

The etymology of Syringa is Greek from syrinx meaning a hollow tube or pipe. Syrinx is a Naiad-nymph of the river Ladon in Arcadia in southern Greece. In her attempts to escape from Pan, God of the Wild, she asked to be turned into reeds. Pan created his first set of pipes from the reeds.

Lilac wood is dense and porous, making it a favorite for musical instruments. The taxonomical name comes from the French and Spanish word lilac.  It is an evolution of the Arabic and Persian word, lilak.   

All references to lilac in Sanskirt come from the word nilah which is a reference to the color, dark blueNil refers to indigo, a plant where the pith of the reed allows them to be easily hollowed out to create the earliest flutes.

 

References

Burns Family Lilac Collection, New York Botanical Gardens

 Enchantment of the Faerie Realm, Ted Andrews

Folklore of My Yard: Lilac, The Sleeping Giant, 2012

History, Culture and Uses of the Lilac: Syringa vulgaris, Melody Rose, 2017, Dave’s Garden

International Lilac Society

The Lilac Flower: Its Meanings and Symbolism, Flower Meaning

The Valley of lilacs: A proof of love, Serbia Tourist Natural Wonders

Wentworth-Coolidge Lilac Restoration project