8 hours ago
Most already know of the elder-tree’s widely proven immune supporting properties. But let me tell you a different story about Elder. •
Anglo-Saxons, the Danish, and other old European societies believed the elder tree was sacred.
She has strong feminine associations and throughout Europe it was widely believed that if you took from the tree without first asking the Old Girl permission, the spirit of the Elder-mother who lived in the trunk and who had the power to protect and to harm would befell ill-luck upon the taker.
It became tradition to say, “Elder Mother, give me of thy wood,
And I will give thee of mine,
When I become a tree.”
It was considered taboo to burn the sacred woods, but the hollow branches were often harvested to use for blowing on fires to stoke them, and for making flutes and harps. The leaves were dried and hung around the neck or home to protect from evil spirits, and a elder-tree fortuitously growing near a dwelling was believed to protect the home.
The flowers and berries were turned into teas, jams, syrups and medicines.
As the Church Christianized communities, it persecuted older folk traditions, working to associate them w/negative connotations in order to deter “pagan” cultural beliefs.
Christian lore told that Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus causing his crucifixion, hanged himself in an Elder tree. Lore also told that the Holy Cross was made of elder wood. However, elderwood is light and pourous, & the cross Jesus bore to the crucifixion site was heavy and cumbersome. There is no evidence for either of these claims and it seems even Tree Folklore can’t be protected from misguided intentions.
By connecting folk beliefs such as those about the elder tree to Jesus’ death and other evils, the Church attempted making the old ways repugnant. This wasn’t always effective, so the Church blended older traditions with Christianity. This mixing of practices can be seen in the use of the lunar calendar to determine the date of certain Christian holidays such as Easter when we still celebrate fertility with bunnies and eggs, or the continued use of elders shaped into a cross at graves to ward off evil.