CELTIC TREE MONTH – RUIS – ELDER
The Elder is linked to the eternal turnings of life and death, birth and rebirth. It represents the end in the beginning and the beginning in the end; life in death and death in life; the casting out of devils of the old year and the renewal and creativity of the new; the timelessness of the cycle by which the fading of old age is always balanced by the start of new birth.
Magickal Associations: Exorcism, prosperity, banishing, healing
- The Elder Moon contains the darkest days of the year
- The day after the end of the Elder Moon month, before the start of the Birch Moon, is no month at all, but an “in between” day. Nameless Day: 23 December
- The Elder Moon’s qualities include death and regeneration, the Crone phase of the Goddess, wisdom, transformation, and the Underworld.
- Elder is sacred to Wiccans. Elder shows the path through the maze, the spiral path that leads within, and the meeting place where birth and death are one.
- The Celts believed that the elder could never be cut unless permission was asked of the trees.
- Wiccans believe Elder should never be burned in the cauldron. See the Wiccan Rede.
Excerpt taken from http://irelandsown.net/celtictrees.html
- 13th Moon of the Celtic Year – (Nov 25 – Dec 23)
- Latin name: Dwarf Elder – sambucus ebulus; Elderberry – sambucus canadenis.
- Celtic name: Ruis (pronounced: roo ish).
Folk or Common names: Lady Elder, Elder, Elderberry, pipe tree, bore tree, bour tree, Eldrun, Hyldor, Hyllantree, Ellhorn, Sambucus. Parts Used: Bark, leaves, flowers, berries, wood. Herbal usage: The Elder has many medicinal uses, and can be used to treat over 70 conditions. The bark can be used fresh for headaches and to promote labor, or can be dried and powdered and used in small doses as a diuretic. The leaves and flowers can be made into drinks, poultices and salves. Elderberry flower water is useful for soothing sunburns. The berries are safe to eat when eaten ripe, and they can be used to make wines, jams and teas.
Magical History & Associations:
The Elder is a tree of Venus and is associated with the element of air. The bird associated with the month of Elder is the rook, the color is blood-red, and the gemstone is dark green malachite. The Elder also is associated with Black Horses, Ravens, and Badgers. The Elder is linked to the eternal turnings of life and death, birth and rebirth, and creativity and renewal. It represents the end/beginning and beginning/end. It is sacred to the deities of Bran, Venus, Hel, Callech, Holda, the White Goddess, the Great Goddess, and Pryderi (The Celts believed that it was during the time of Elder that their sun or solar spirit was held prisoner, just as Pryderi was forced into exile).
The Elder is the Old Crone aspect of the triple Goddess, wise old energy at the end of the year’s cycle, and is sometimes called the “death tree” because of this. Funerary flints found in megalithic long barrows were Elder leaf shaped, suggesting the association of Elder with death goes back a long way. Elder is also called the “witch’s tree” and certainly the village hedge-witch would have used the elder in healing and Magick. The Elder is also associated with a dryad (tree spirit). Early European legends tell of a dryad called Hylde-moer, The Elder Tree Mother, who lives in the Elder tree and watches over it. Should the tree be chopped down and furniture made of the wood, Hylde-moer would follow her property and haunt the owners.
The month of Elder includes the Winter Solstice, which is celebrated as the Sabbat of Yule, a day to mark the return of the Sun. Therefore, calling upon the Sun God or Goddess is good to do during this month. Elder has the Magickal powers of Healing, Visions, Faery Magick, Spirituality, Cleansing, Sleep, Exorcism, Offering, Love, Protection, and Prosperity. Elder is often used to produce visions. At Samhain, the last of the Elderberries were picked with solemn rites. The wine made from these berries was considered the last sacred gift of the Earth Goddess, and was valued and drunk ritually to invoke prophecy, divination and hallucinations. Elder twigs were woven into head-dresses to enable the wearers to see spirits.
The Elder is very useful in Magick dealing with Nature Spirits and the Fae. Wood spirits are said to live in Elder forests, and wood elves are said to come to listen to music played by flutes made with Elder wood. The Elder has strong protective qualities. Tiny twigs of Elder or dried Elderberry can be worn in a bag around the neck as a charm for protection against physical or psychic attack. As a protection against evil (and later against witchcraft) Elder branches were hung in doorways of houses and cowsheds. Elder can be used to bless a person, place or thing by scattering leaves and berries to the four directions, and over the thing or person being blessed. It is said that if you stand under an Elder tree, you will never be struck by lightening. Elder was also buried in graves to ward off evil spirits, and is considered protection against earthbound, “physical” spirits like vampires. Elder as Vampire-Repellent is older folklore than the lore about garlic. When you put Elder on a threshold or windowsill, you can force a vampire to count over the thorns and the berries until morning comes, because vampires are obsessive-compulsive about counting things.
Also, Elder blossom were worn at Beltane to signify witchcraft and magic, and Elder twigs can be used to undo evil magic. Elder is a traditional wood for making Magickal tools, like besoms and wands. It is said in Irish folklore that it is Elder and not Ash which is used by witches for their magic ‘hobby horses’ and besoms. Justice was often dispensed under an Elder, so the hilt of a coven sword was often made of Elder wood. Elder is also a good wood to use to make Protective Wands. There are very strong superstitions about not cutting down or burning an Elder (maybe caused by a fear of releasing the tree’s Hylde-moer – or maybe out of a deep respect for the tree), so be sure to remember to ask the tree if it will allow you to take a branch. It is traditional to say this before you cut a branch:
“Lady Ellhorn, give me of thy wood,
And I will give thee of mine,
when I become a tree.”
Excerpt taken from http://www.dutchie.org/Tracy/trees/celtic_tree_elder.html
The American elder (canadensis) , also known as Elderberry, is small tree that grows to 12 feet and is native to North America. The European elder (nigra) grows to 30 feet, is found throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, and has been naturalized in the United States. The tree has been called “the medicine chest of the common people.
The fruits have been used to make elderberry wine, and when cooked, can be used in pies and jams. The berries contain more vitamin C than any other herb except rosehips and black currant.
The Elder tree berry has been used for centuries as a natural intestinal cleanser. Both the flower and the berry possess powerful antioxidant properties that help protect your health by attacking harmful free radicals that damage cells. Elderberries also nourish the circulatory system. Herbalists praise Elderberry as an invigorating, rejuvenating general tonic.
Official Latin Name: Sambucus nigra
Elderberry, also known as Black Elder, Boor Tree, Bountry, Elder, Ellanwood, Ellhorn, European Elder, and German Elder, grows in Europe and North America. The name Elder is thought to refer to an old Anglo-Saxon term, “aeld”, meaning fire or kindle, as the hollow stems of the Elder were blown on a fire to get it started. Many cultures felt this tree was so special that they refused to burn the wood or use it to make furniture, lest it bring bad luck to the household. It was planted by homes to protect the house from lightning, bring prosperity, happy marriage and healthy children, and protect from evil. Elderberry helps strengthen and maintain the immune & respiratory systems. Elderberry may be taken to help prevent colds and flu. Taken at the first sign of cold or flu, Elderberry will generally reduce the course of the infection down to one or two days. Elderberry focuses on the nutritional needs of the immune system offering the body additional amounts of vitamin C, fruit acids and traces of essential oils and anthocyanci pigments.
Elderberry helps eliminate toxic stagnations that are typically the home for infectious bacteria. The antibiotic, antiviral and antibacterial properties found in Elderberry also work to stimulate the skin, kidneys and lymphatic system. The Flavonoids, including Quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic effects of the Elderberry flowers and berries. A study in humans determined that an extract of Elderberries is an effective treatment for influenza. Animal studies have shown the flowers to have anti-inflammatory properties. The common name Elder also includes the species Sambucus canadensis, which is used interchangeably with Sambucus nigra.
Excerpt taken from http://www.kcweb.com/herb/elderberry.htm
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
The American elder (canadensis) , also known as Elderberry, is small tree that grows to 12 feet and is native to North America. The European elder (nigra) grows to 30 feet, is found throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, and has been naturalized in the United States. The tree has been called “the medicine chest of the common people. The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have all been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries. The fruits have been used to make elderberry wine, and when cooked, can be used in pies and jams. The berries contain more vitamin C than any other herb except rosehips and black currant.
The elder also has a rich background of cultural superstitions. In the Middle Ages legends held that tree was home to witches and that cutting down one would bring on the wrath of those residing in the branches. The Russians and the English believe that elder trees ward off evil spirits and it was considered good luck to plant a tree near your home. Sicilians think that sticks of elder wood can kill serpents and drive away thieves.
This herb has a long history dating beyond the stone ages. Egyptians discovered that applying its flowers improved the complexion and healed burns. Many early Indian tribes used elderberry, and its variants, in teas and other beverages. In the 17th century the British often drank home made wine and cordials that was thought to prolong life and cure the common cold. The berries from the elder contain a considerable amount of vitamins A, B and C, as well as flavonoids, sugar, tannins, carotenoids and amino acids. Warm elderberry wine is a remedy for sore throat, influenza and induces perspiration to reverse the effects of a chill. The juice from the berries is an old fashioned cure for colds, and is also said to relieve asthma and bronchitis.
Infusions of the fruit are beneficial for nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder. Raw berries have laxative and diuretic properties, however the seeds are toxic and may induce vomiting and nausea. Elderberries are edible when cooked. Elder leaves contain the flavonoids rutin and quercertin, alkaloids, vitamin C and sambunigrin, a cyanogenic glucoside. Fresh elder leaves also contain hydrocyanic acid, cane sugar, invertin, betulin, free fatty acids, and a considerable quantity of potassium nitrate. Elder flowers and elder flower water have been used in a variety of ways topically and as a tonic mixture.
Elder flowers are a mild astringent and are used in skin washes to refine the complexion and help relieve eczema, acne and psoriasis. Flower water makes a soothing gargle and when strained makes an excellent eye wash. The leaves and flowers are a common ingredient in ointments and poultices for burns and scalds, swelling, cuts and scrapes. Infusions and preparations with the blossoms combined with other herbs have also been used to quicken recovery form the common cold and flu. Parts Used: Bark, leaves, flowers, berries.
Common Use: Topically for infections, inflammations and swelling. As a wash for skin healing and complexion purification. As a tea and cordial to sooth sore throats, speed recovery from cold and flu and relieve respiratory distress. Cooked and used in jams and conserves. Care: Prefers sandy or loamy soil rich in humus and nitrogen. Full sun or partial shade. http://www.patch-work.demon.co.uk/elder.htm
The first shoots of the Common Elder boiled like asparagus, and the young leaves and stalks boiled in fat broth, do mightily carry forth phlegm and choler. The middle or inward bark boiled in water, and given in drink works much more violently; and the berries, either green or dry, expel the same humour, and are often given with good success to help the dropsy; the bark of the root boiled in wine, or the juice thereof drank, works the same effects, but much more powerfully than either the leaves or fruit. The juice of the root taken, mightily procures vomiting, and purges the watery humours of the dropsy…
Nicholas Culpeper, 17th century herbalist
The elder flowers in June in large, flat plates of flowerheads (called umbrells) made up of many tiny cream-white flowers. If you make sure they are clean of bugs, they can be eaten sraight off the branches on a hot summers day. The berries can be considered ripe when the clusters begin to turn upside down. Avoid picking berries that have become over-ripe. Wash well and strip from the stalks using a dining fork. The berries can be added to apple pie (40 elderberries:60 apple) or blackberry jam (50:50). The elderberry is often known as the Englishman’s grape, and it’s nutritional values show that it is similar to the grape and more so…Please note: For safety reasons DO NOT use the leaves, bark or roots of Elder for consumtion. They can be poisonous!!!
Black Elder Botanical name: Sambucus nigra
Black Elder – also known as Common Elder – is a deciduous bush, shrub or small tree that grows to a height of 8 meters. It grows wild in woods, hedgerows, and along roadsides. It’s also a very common plant in home gardens, parks and other areas with nutrient-rich soil. The black elder plant has corky grey-brown bark and green, pinnate and toothed leaves. The leaves have a characteristic and unpleasant smell when crushed.
The small, cream-coloured flowers are arranged in flat-topped clusters. They have a strong, aromatic and very pleasant, musky fragrance. The ripe, globose stone-fruits – the elderberries – are black, juicy and bitter to taste though they become milder and sweeter after the first frost – or after a week or so in the freezer. Black elderberries are very rich in antioxidants. Leaves, bark, flowers and fruits are used for many medicinal and culinary purposes including wine making. Black Elder has been called the medicine chest of the people, and earlier there was much folklore, superstition, and witchcraft associated with this plant. WARNING! Do not confuse Black Elder or Common Elder with Red Elder (Sambucus racemosa). RED elderberries are POISONOUS.
Excerpt taken from www.homestead-farm.net