Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Herb of the Month (October): Elder/ Elderberry
(sambucas nigra, sambucus canadensis, sambucus laciniata, sambucus racemona)
Ruling planet: Venus
Sacred to: the Mother Goddess
Used for: exorcism, protection healing, prosperity, sleep.
Elder goes by many folk names, such as trom (the Irish name) Frau Holle (German), Old Lady, Yakori bengeskro ("devil's eye" in Romany), and Lady Ellhorn, to name a few.
Elder sap is red like blood, and it has been though that elder trees are home to spirits. When cutting a piece of elder, a witch or folk healer would say:
"Lady Ellhorn, give me of thy wood,
And I will give thee of mine,
When I become a tree."
It is sometimes associated with grief. In Christian tradition, Judas Iscariot was said to have hanged himself on an Elder tree.
It is used to ward off demons and negative spirits, as well as protect against sorcery or spells against you.
Hang it over your door to protect the home.
It has been used in burial rites in Britain, and is sometimes used to protect the dead on their journey into the afterlife.
The flowers are used for wine, cordial, flavor syrups, ice cream, and Sambuca, an Italian liqueur.
Medicinally, ederberry is used for fevers, coughs, colds, and sore throats, among other things. (I recently took elderberry lozenges for a very sore throat, and they helped alot, and tasted really yummy.)
Certain people, including some Gypsies, think that it is bad luck to burn elder wood, so it is never used in a campfire.
Elder is very popular for wands and flutes. Scott Cunningham says "Make flutes from the branches and call forth spirits with their music. Best done at midnight in a deserted place far from the haunts of humans".
Ruis (elder) in the Celtic tree calendar is from November 25 to December 22. Each tree in the calendar corresponds to a line from "The Song of Amergin", which purportedly comes from the Chief bard of the Milesians when they invaded Ireland circa 1268 C.E. The line "I am a wave of the Sea" corresponds to Ruis/elder.
I hope that you found this helpful, I certainly learned a lot about elder when researching it! I want to make my own elder wand, and dedicate it to the Mother Goddess. I can't wait for Samhain! I am currently working on compiling some purification techniques for a hardcore Samhain purification. I love a good purification, it always feels so good!
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
"What is the Celtic Tree Calendar?" by Linda Kerr
The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl
The Ultimate Herb Book by Antony Atha
The White Goddess by Robert Graves