Saturday, October 03, 2009

Elderberry Magic


Here I've done it again. Life has gotten in the way, and I hardly have time to breathe, let alone blog. But for the past couple of weeks, I've been ruminating about everything I want to tell you about Elderberries and quite frankly October couldn't be more perfect month to broach the topic, for no tree is so magical, nor none surrounded by as much folklore and mystery than that of the Elder. Alas, it is the tree upon which it is purported that Judas hanged himself, as Langland's Vision of Piers Plowman stated:

'Judas he japed with Jewen silver, And sithen an eller hanged hymselve.'

Although the branches of the Elder are so willowy that I find it hard to believe that anyone could hang himself upon such a tree. But perhaps, as another tradition states, the tree only became that way after the cross of Calvary was made with it:

'Bour tree - Bour tree: crooked rong
Never straight and never strong;
Ever bush and never tree
Since our Lord was nailed on thee.'

But the Elder's mystery and folklore predate Christianity. Heathen myths of northern Europe talk about Hylde Moer, the Elder-tree mother who lived in the tree and watched over it. Should the tree be cut down and furniture be made of it, Hylde Moer would follow her property and haunt the owners. In fact, if one wanted to cut from an Elder tree, he had to first ask permission and not cut until consent was given through silence to prevent ill luck from befalling him.

Numerous other bizarre superstitions regarding the Elder extend well beyond the small borders of northern Europe. Russians believe the Elder tree to drive away evil spirits, Bohemians go to it with a spell to take away fevers and Sicilians believe that sticks from the Elder tree will kill serpents and drive away robbers. In England it was once thought that the Elder tree was never struck by lightening and that a twig of Elder tied into three or four knots and carried in one's pocket would prevent rheumatism. Some in Britain also collected Elder leaves the last day of April and affixed them to their doors and windows to prevent witches from entering their homes. In Denmark, one might see the fairy king and all his attendants go by, simply by sitting under an Elder tree on Mid-summer's Eve.

But more exciting than all this folklore, is what I shall get to in my next post: the medicinal benefits and folk remedies that come from Elderberries.

17 comments:

we're doomed said...

I can't wait for more of your story about the Elderberry.

Isle Dance said...

Oh, I love this. Beautiful. And I just rec'd a natural health newsletter talking about the same thing...I can't wait to read all of this!

Carla said...

We're Doomed, Stayed tuned...coming soon.

Isle Dance, Elderberries are amazing. They're one of the easiest ways we can stay healthy through the winter.

Bevy said...

Elderberry - I've never heard of it. :) I do LOVE blueberries and speaking of such - I grow LOTS of blueberries - EVERY YEAR from the 4 that bore this year.

I won't cut down those apple trees! - but a few are frustrating me. I think that improving the population of mason bees and I found out from Peirce County BeeKeepers that they Mason Bees sold in the PNW are east coast ones and not NATIVE ... so they aren't as hardy ... :(

Just waiting for a good crop like the first couple years here ...
Thanks for the encouragement ...

Hope said...

Hello!

Thanks for stopping by my blog.
What a lovely header picture...what a beautiful place to live!

♥Hope

VE said...

Are the saplings called youngerberry?

Pamela said...

I'm glad you put that last short paragraph in. I've read much recently about how wonderful the elderberry is for health.

Some guy was trying to convince me (in the mail) to start my own elderberry orchard.
I wouldn't mind having one in the yard to attract late fall hungry birds.

Steffi said...

Beautiful photo Carla and please tell us more about your story!

Ampil said...

..its the first time i heard about elder berry and the story behind it..maybe im not familiar with the bible story or any myths..but i like it..at least im learning here..

now following you and if any chance to check mine too..you are welcome..

http://ampil070485.blogspot.com/

Jannie Funster said...

Do you remember the Monty Python bit from the Quest For The Holy Grail -- the line about the elderberry, when they were up on the turret? Such a funny movie!

And VE beat me to that joke!

xo

Blue Bunny said...

i lieks mosst kinds of barries to eets!

Carla said...

Bevy, I love blueberries too. Elderberries taste a little like huckleberries, but only when cooked up. You're not supposed to eat them raw.

Hope, Thanks for dropping by. Yes, the Kootenays are truly a beautiful place to live.

Carla said...

VE, Just may be, just may be.

Pamela, I don't know that I would want a whole orchard, but one or two would certainly be nice.

Carla said...

Steffi, Yes, I need to finish my account of Elderberries. Soon, I promise.

Ampil, Thanks for dropping by. You're welcome to come by here any time. I'll drop by your spot shortly.

Carla said...

Jannie, Love Monty Python...my kind of humour. Keep me laughing.

Blue Bunny, Me too...I like most types of berries. They're my favorite in fact.

Anonymous said...

Mmmm elderberries. Blue elderberries are fine to eat raw, I eat them by the pound in the fall, and can jars of them for winter. We are so blessed to have this here!

Anonymous said...

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