Elder/Elderflower (Sambucus nigra)

Special note: The following is for educational purposes only. The information is not meant to replace the consultation of a licensed health-care professional. This author and OCLC-CoG are not held responsible for the use or misuse of the information contained within this blog.

Whether we live in a city or out in the countryside, the natural world draws us even closer in the summer. We have more daylight to keep us out-of-doors and, if we allow it, time to connect with the natural environment. Curiosity, imagination, relaxation, exploration are themes for enjoying the summer.

Summer is the season of light, heat, fire and the heart chakra. Heat and fiery energies can be stressful to the heart. Elevated environmental and body temperatures can cause an imbalance. Elder tree, which flowers in June, has healing properties that regulate body temperature and maintain a lighter spirit within the heart chakra.

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Elder (Sambucus nigra) has been called “the medicine chest of the people” in more than one culture. Medicinal properties of Elder include internal use for colds, rheumatics, sinusitis, hay fever, sore throats, fevers and external use for wounds, bruises and swelling.

The parts of the Elder that are used are the bark, flowers, leaves and berries. Only use the berries that are black or dark purple. The other Elder berries are toxic, especially if eaten raw. Elder can be used to create infusions, ointments and tinctures. When using Elder, do not use in high doses. Possible side effects of internal use may include dizziness or drowsiness.

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There is much cultural lore associated with Elder. Here are a few examples:

  • Ornamental varieties of Elder support native butterfly and bird species
  • Elder trees ward off evil
  • Elder berries, blossoms or leaves can be hung over doorways to banish unwanted spirits
  • Plant an Elder tree near your house to prevent a lightning strike
  • Wear stems of Elder branches as amulets to bring good luck and health

Associations and uses of Elder in Summer rituals include:

  • Elder flowers have a pungent scent; ritual use may cause drowsiness and “visions” of the Faery kingdom
  • Elder is the “tree of transformation” in the Celtic tree calendar ~ use for transformational work to end or begin cycles
  • Associations with crone energy ~ energies residing within the Elder watch the gateway between the land of the living and the realm of the ancestors
  • Irish magical lore ~ the most powerful witches’ wands are made from the bough of Elder

To prepare for use in ritual work: Create Elder flower water to use as a magical infusion to strengthen intuition (EXTERNAL use only):

  1. Gather fresh Elder flowers on the full moon in June; ask permission from the spirit that resides within the tree
  2. Fill a 1/2 gallon jar with fresh Elder blossoms.
  3. Cover the blossoms with boiled water.
  4. Add 1-1/2 ounces of brandy or vodka.
  5. Steep for 8 to 10 hours.
  6. Strain through a cheese cloth
  7. Store in amber bottles or bottles that have a personal magical association

No matter how you choose to spend the Summer time, get acquainted with Elder and add its fine qualities to your magical toolbox!

Blessed Be!

References:

Berger, Judith (1998). Herbal Rituals. St. Martin’s Press. Pages 143 – 152.

Merrett, V. (2013). Healing Plants – A Beginner’s Guide to Plants as Natural Remedies. Chartwell Books. Pg. 76.

The Guide to Herbs Ultimate. (2011). Parragon Books. Page 204.

 

 

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