While I was reading Sylvia Townsend Warner's Lolly Willowes, a too much neglected classic of witchcraft fiction, I was struck by a rhyme Lolly's Nannie Quantrell had taught her as a child, which she had learned from her grandmother:
After a long stint in Los Angeles and a life mostly lived in California, I'm finding my first springtime in the country in central Missouri to be indescribably magical. As the flowers begin to bloom and the green begins to return, I am truly shocked to behold all the botanical life that just bursts forth everywhere, all on its own, without the intense watering and cultivation that was so often necessary in my former desert environment. And it seems that so many different flowers, all in one place, are expected to miraculously appear on the scene at various times throughout the year! It's a kaleidoscopic theater of brightness and life.
For example, I recently discovered that a seemingly lifeless shrub right in front of our house had - quite possibly overnight - adorned itself in elegant, delicate, and intensely bright yellow blooms. I've since spied the same blossoms elsewhere in my area. Now that I know that this beauty as forsythia, I thought I'd explore some of her floral magic and wisdom.
My study of magic and metaphysical healing has emphasized magical herbalism from the beginning. The first pagan book I bought for myself was Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. I knew nothing about plants at the time; I couldn't even identify lavender or rosemary, and I was a little shaky on dandelions. Sometimes figuring out which herbs to use in a spell was very difficult.
I hadn't yet learned to hear my intuition, much less trust it. So I usually chose herbs off the lists of correspondences in the back of the Encyclopedia and hoped I could buy them from the botánica in my New Orleans neighborhood, or from the bulk section of the Whole Foods across town.