Again this month I was wondering what herbe to write about, and had a drink while thinking about it. As I was drinking Elderflower Cordial at the time, it didn’t take me long to do some research and find out that Elder is suitable for Midsummer rituals.
Name: Sambucus nigra
– Dec 23
The Cailleach, Hel, Hela, Holda, Venus, Hilde, The White Lady,
Empress & Moon
Herbe of Protection, Magickal Herbe & Funereal Herbe
Faeries, Old Gal, Pipe Tree and Lady Ellhorn, Judas Tree among others
young shoots, leaves, flowers and fruit.
LORE & USAGE
Among those herbes with a rich history of lore, the elder stands as the
equivalent of a high priestess. There is extensive material
about this familiar shrub.
The name Elder, is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon word 'Aeld',
meaning fire. Another old name for Elder is Ellhorn, hinting
at the use of hollowed Elder branches as a furnace. Old names
like Holler, Hylder, Hyllantree, and the German word Holunder all refer
to an ancient vegetation Goddess, Hylde Moer, as she was known in
Denmark. Once upon a time, the Elder-tree was considered
sacred to this Goddess, and the tree's gifts were regarded as her
blessings. It was commonly believed that Elders were
inhabited by a tree dryad who was thought to represent the soul of the
tree or sometimes was seen as an aspect of the Goddess
herself. If treated well and honoured appropriately, the
dryad was a most benevolent spirit that blessed and protected the
people who cared for it. Thus, Elders were often planted around the
house and on the farm where they served as a shrine to the Goddess
whose protective powers could be invoked by making prayers and
offerings to the tree. An Elder grove must be treated as holy
In the Celtic Tree Calendar, Elder is the thirteenth month November
25th to December 23rd, and is also the thirteenth consonant of the
Elder is one of the best known trees of both older and modern
civilizations. Early Christians believed the Elder provided
the wood for Christ's execution, and this is how the Elder got stuck
with the reputation of association with death and darkness.
An association it didn't deserve, I might add. I think just
about every English speaking person has heard of Elderberry Wine. (The
wine used in "Arsenic and Old Lace" was Elderberry).
Among Elder’s best known virtues, it is believed to protect
and cleanse against all evils and dark magick. In this regard
it is an excellent funeral herb. Many cultures, separated by
thousands of kilometres, are found to be consistent with their beliefs
in Elder’s abilities.
Over two thousand years ago Pliny used hollow Elder twigs as a pan
pipe. Modern custom weaves Elder's Magick into the rites of
Midsummer's Eve. An Elder grove is considered an ideal place
for moving into the realm of the Fae. For those wishing to
see the Devas on this eve, Elder flowers can be used in the ritual cup,
or Elderberry wine may be used in the cup. Dried Elder
flowers are good fixatives when making loose, dry incense.
They hold herbal oils well and can empower rites.
Elder branches can be fashioned into pentagrams to hang as protection
above your altar, or anywhere in the home. The Elder often used in
rites of death and dying to protect the loved one during transport to
Traditionally all parts of Elder are useful medicinally. The
berries and the leaves are both rich in vitamin C. The leaves
can be made into ear drops to treat pain and inflammation.
The flowers make a tea that is good for treating coughs and irritable
throats, as well as being made into a skin cleanser and
lotion. The bark of the new small twigs can be made into a
laxative. The bark, roots, berries and leaves can all be used
as a dye. And the berries are good for making jam, wine,
vinegar, and syrups.
: Sambucus canadensis
(American Elder), which closely resembles Sambucus nigra
can be used exactly the same magickally, but the fresh roots are
extremely poisonous and can cause death if ingested.
AND if you have access to an Elder tree, follow this link to a variety
of recipes you can make:
a compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beyerl