Elderberry – Sambucus canadensis

Sacred to: Holda, Venus, Hecate

Myth 1: It is believed that Judas hung himself from an elder tree.

Myth 2: In European folklore, fairies and elves would appear if you sat underneath an elder bush on midsummer night. The lovely elder possessed potent magic, with the ability to drive away witches, and kill serpents

Myth 3: Sleeping under the elder supposedly produces a drugged, dream-filled sleep (the fragrance is actually a mildly sedative.)

Myth 4: Mythology tells of the fiery Elderberry Goddess who embodied the spirit or spark of life! Fairyland is also known as Eld in Celtic lore, which says that you may see a fairy procession if you sit under an elder tree when the berries are ripe!

Myth 5: The elderberry is favored by the Little People and solitary elders were considered to be fairy trees. Because it is considered an otherworldly dwelling place for spirits, an elder is especially potent when grown in a churchyard.

Myth 6: The elder log is considered a token of the underworld hag, Hecate. Burning of the log is thought to summon spirits. As the elder is the tree of the thirteenth month it is considered to be an unlucky tree and is often avoided.

Other Notes: In Victorian flower language, however, an elderberry branch signifies remorse and the blossom: sorrow or zeal. The Christian belief coincides with this theme of sorrow and remorse

The name elder may have been derived from Hylde-Moer the Scandinavian matriarchal tree spirit and deity associated with the elder, whose indwelling spirit was said to be the basis of the protective qualities of ‘Mother Elder’.

Elder Mother

A farmer discovered his cows were being milked by a witch disguised as an elder-tree. The farmer loaded his gun with a silver bullet to shoot her, but missed, and the witch chased him back to his cottage. He hurtled in through the front door and his wife shot the iron bolt, but the farmer’s coat-tails were caught in the door and he struggled pathetically there while the witch prowled around outside! Luckily, the old granny saves the day. She takes “a girt shovel of burning coals and she say to the girl, ‘Open the back door wide!’ And she did and ran back to her mother, but the old Granny she just stood there, and when the elder-tree came straight at her, and a-leaping and a-skreeking, she just up and throw all they red-hot coals at her, and come in and shut the back door. Then they all see blue flames flicker and hear tree crackling into cinders.

After a bit Granny she took the ashen cattle-goad and go out and there was a girt heap of ashes, cold already and they women all made a criss-cross on the ashes with the ashen-goad, and they ran and opened shutters and front door again and farmer were able to free his coat-tails and go out to his cows.”

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