The Elder tree or Sambucus Canadensis usually grows between 5 and 10 meters tall. It enjoys well-fertilized and moist soil and full sunlight and plenty of water. It is found in North America, England, North Africa, Asia, Europe and Scandinavia. The bark of the elder tree is smooth when it first starts to grow but it turns rough and furrowed as it grows older. The leaves are composed of between 5 to 7 little leaves all attached to a twig and they have serrated edges and tiny hairs on the underside. In spring time it sprouts flowers which are white or creamy colored and then develops fruit – elderberries – which are dark blue, purple, red or black.
Elderberries, elder flowers and elder leaves are used for a variety of purposes. You can have elder flower tea and elderberry jam, wine and vinegar. They can be used in pies, soup, muffins and bread. It is important to note that whilst elderberries are used in food and juices that they should only be consumed when they are cooked and ripe as raw and unripe berries are toxic. Elder berries and leaves are full of vitamin C and can be used externally to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne and sunburn. The leaves have been made into ear drops and elder flower tea can assist with coughs and sore throats. The leaves and flowers can be added into poultices, ointments and drinks. The bark of the elder can help relieve headaches, encourage labor and is also a diuretic.
In magick the elder is associated with transformation and change: beginnings and endings, birth and death. Elder is a suitable wood for making a magickal wand and indeed, it is believed that elder wands are very powerful.The elder is used in spells for banishing and exorcism and protection as well as to promote healing and prosperity. It is also believed that the elder can assist with visions. Elder twigs can be used to assist in undoing evil magick and curses. If using elder for protection then it can be used around the house and also carried on your person. You can use either dried elder flowers or berries in a sachet and carry it with you or wear around your neck to protect you from physical and psychic harm. In the home you can hang sachets above the doors and also place twigs and branches in the home. It is believed that if you stand under an elder tree then you will not be struck by lightning.
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