Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Herb of the Month (October): Elder/ Elderberry

(sambucas nigra, sambucus canadensis, sambucus laciniata, sambucus racemona)
Element: water
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!

Blessed Be,


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

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October: The Month of the Witch

Hey everyone. I know that I completely missed September, it's really hard to keep up with this blog when I have classes. I'm not abandoning this blog though. Octobers Herb of the Month will be posted by the 21st. I have a few thing I want to discuss though.

For those of you that read NewWitch and/or PanGaia magazines, you may be wondering what happened to them. I suppose that they just weren't making enough money to continue, so they have both closed down, unfortunately. The good news is that the people from the two magazines have come together and created a new magazine that is sort of a combination of the two, called Witches and Pagans. It is available at this website:

In my town, October is officially Earth Religions Awareness Month. There seems to be at least one event every week. Although I don't go to many of them (I'm a bit introverted), I am glad to be blessed with the opportunity to discover more about paganism and earth religions. So many people live in areas where coming out of the broom closet could cause them to be ostracized or even put them in danger. The only resources they have are books and the internet, and don't know any other pagans. Until pretty recently, there weren't that many books, much less the internet! I just want to thank God and Goddess for the wonderful pagan community I have here.

October is my favorite month, ever since I was a little kid. Witches, magic, and the unknown surround us this time of year. So soak up the mystical energy that is October, honor the God and Goddess, your ancestors, and the darkness. Prepare for the turning of the wheel. Samhain is a great day to cleanse your home. I plan on cleansing my home, in both the mundane sense, and cleansing any negative energy that could be lingering.
On the upcoming new moon, I plan on taking down my altar, and setting a new one up on Samhain. I will put up new candles and a new cloth, cleansing and reconsecrating my tools, and preparing all of my items for the new year.

My homework for you this month is to purge lingering negativity and clutter. Get rid of old magazines, sweep and mop the floors, smudge your home often. Meditate, let the negative energy flow out of you, channeling it into the earth to be recycled. Think about bad behaviors or things you want to get rid of (smoking, old grudges, etc.) and make a resolution to change things. The darkness can be powerful for looking within and finding out what you feel that you need to change. Cleanse your home and yourself, and you will go into the new year feeling refreshed.

Blessed Be,