Friday, July 22, 2016

Carpe Diem #1004 Gorse

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

It's a very "packed" time here at Carpe Diem, we have our regular episodes, our Tan Renga Challenge, our Theme Week and our first Summer Retreat is running. It's almost to much, but I enjoy it ... this episode will be a short one by the way as will our Theme Week episode for today. Just because of the weather, it is to hot to be in the house ... it's still around 30 degrees Celsius here in the Netherlands.

Today we are having an encounter with another tree / bush from the Ogham, which we use this month to explore the mysterious nature. That nature we are all in love with as haiku poets. Today our mysterious tree /bush is Gorse:

There are several species of gorse that flower at different times of the year making it a much-loved plant for the bees and giving it the appearance of being in bloom all year long. There is an old saying that goes, “When the gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season.”

Gorse is often associated with love and fertility. It was for this reason that a sprig of gorse was traditionally added to a bride’s bouquet and gorse torches were ritually burned around livestock to protect against sterility. However, one should never give gorse flowers to another as a gift for it is unlucky for both the giver and receiver.
Gorse wood was used as very effective tinder. It has a high oil content which means it burns at a similar high temperature to charcoal. The ashes of the burnt gorse were high in alkali and used to make soap when mixed with animal fat.
In Celtic tradition, gorse was one of the sacred woods burned on the Beltane bonfires, probably the one that got them started. It was a shrub associated with the spring equinox and the Celtic god of light, Lugh, doubtlessly because of its ever blooming vibrant yellow flowers.
In Brittany, the Celtic summer festival of Lughnastdagh, named after the god, was known as the Festival of Golden Gorse.
The flowers have a distinct vanilla-coconut aroma and are edible with an almond-like taste. They can be eaten raw on salads or pickled like capers. They have also been used to make wine and to add color and flavor to Irish whiskey. However, consuming the flowers in great numbers can cause an upset stomach due to the alkalis they contain.
The prickly nature of gorse gave it a protective reputation, specifically around livestock. As well as providing an effective hedgerow, gorse made an acceptable flea repellent and the plant was often milled to make animal fodder.

one golden sea
gorse blossom as far as I can see
bellowing cows

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until July 27th at noon (CET). I will post our next episode, Heather, later on.


  1. That is a high temperature to be in without some air conditioning, especially if the humidity is high. It is reaching 38 C here most days but with no rain. Grass is dried out and burn bans are now enforced. Love your haiku. Again, thank you for all the work you put into this site.

  2. Carpe Diem Challenge # 1004 Gorse:

    going unnoticed
    a yellowhammer
    atop the gorse