Looking at or even thinking about the elderberry bush evokes a flood of magical associations and images of the past—European ladies dousing their white skin with elder flower water, and crystal goblets filled with elderberry wine.
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. Carrying the twigs in your pocket was a charm against certain diseases. One of these tales bears some truth: Sleeping under the elder produces a drugged, dream-filled sleep—the fragrance is actually a mildly sedative. Perhaps the visions of fairies and elves resulted from dreaming under an elder bush.
From time beyond memory, magic, myth, and tradition have gathered about the elderberry and endowed it with a psychic influence that in some parts of the world rivals its medicinal value. The belief that the elder was the wood on which Jesus was crucified and that Judas hanged himself from an elder branch made the plant a symbol of grief and death.
Mrs. Grieve writes in A Modern Herbal, “an old custom among gypsies forbade them using [elder] wood to kindle their campfires, and gleaners of firewood formerly would look carefully through the faggots lest a stick of elder should have found its way into the bundle...one sometimes comes across a hedge-cutter who cannot bring himself to molest the rampant growth of its spreading branches for fear of being pursued by ill-luck.” In Europe, rural folk asked permission of dryads and witches for the use of elder.
Give me of thy wood an Oi will give thee some of moine
when Oi grows inter a tree..."
~Folkloric Charm to the Spirit of the Elder
Of all the herbs, roots and trees the Romanies say that the elder tree is the most healing tree on the earth. Elderberry is sacred to numerous Goddesses, especially Venus, and Holle (Hulda, Holda). If you use elderberry magical herbs for rituals and spells, use them for exorcism, protection, healing, prosperity, and sleep based spells and rituals. Other magickal uses:
- Wear it to protect yourself from harm and attacks.
- Anoint a person or object with Elderberry oil to bless it.
- Helps one to fall asleep, makes a great bedroom scent in a diffuser.
- Sprinkle on the path leading to the door of your home, office or business to bring in prosperity!
- The Romanies say that water from a spring rising under an elder tree is the best eye lotion to be found, and it is especially wonderful for those born under Gemini.
I got pretty excited about this magical shrub, and uploaded a bunch of recipes, cures, information, and more. Here's the list: