The Gorse was long felt to have powerful qualities and associations, particularly in Celtic mythology, probably dating back thousands of years to the very earliest time of myth-making in the Isles of Britain, Scotland and Ireland. The thorns were seen as “Chieftan” trees (see Hawthorn) – it’s not hard to see why, as indeed they are excessively aggressive to the touch and exceptionally hardy and resilient.
As the 17th letter of the ancient Celtic alphabet, gorse is associated with the Journey of Life, and perhaps represents the darker and more military qualities one needs to survive; it is also said to give energy to the decisions, paths and choices life will offer. In the Scottish region of Argyll, home of The Botanist, gorse is closely associated with the Cailleach (Divine Hag), or the spirit of winter. The Cailleach is credited with forming the landscape of Argyll with her hammer as she strode across it creating mountains as stepping stones, and perhaps leaving a trail of hardy gorse in her wake. Certainly anyone who’s visited the Highlands and islands in spring will know that the landscape is drenched in the smell of sweet coconut – the perfume of the gorse.