plantlore, potions, lotions and witchy makings

Elder *Sambucus nigra* specifically Elderflower

oh how I love Elderflower! The heady scent fills the air marking the beginning of summer. It is so popular you can buy Elderflower cordial, syrups and fizzes all year round. I however look forward to gathering and making my own as part of my Litha rituals and we will be having Elderflower champagne in our wedding ceremony next year. You can use it to flavour alcohols (HOORAY!) and cakes, I’ve a great recipe for Elderflower cheesecake. It tastes like summer (obviously)

Recipe for Elderflower cordial to follow.

Be aware when making your own Elderflower cordial that without the addition of an acid it will turn into champagne all on its own. I nearly disfigured myself a couple of years ago when I came across a bottle I had forgotten about in the bottom of the fridge; wondering if it was still good I picked it up, which agitated it, the lid blew off and hit me in the face spraying Elderflower all over the ceiling and nearly taking my nose with it! Thankfully I was only left with a little scar, a funny story and slightly less dignity.

Not only tasty, Elderflower has many medicinal uses: as a tea, it can be use to treat hayfever. Particularly useful if, like me you are allergic to trees rather than flowers. The strong fragrance comes from the pollen of the clustered flowers which is why it is best gathered when the sun has been shining on them. A mild tisane can also be used up the nose to ease sinusitis. To dry them simply lay them out on paper in a warm place, or hang them in a paper bag in a sunny spot for later use.

Other medicinal uses include:

  • taken as a tea to promote perspiration in fevers.
  • As a wash to cool the skin good for bruises and mild burns.
  • A steam bath or wash clears the pores, evening skin tone and clearing acne.
  • a mild and soothing eyewash when eyes have become itchy and inflamed, soak some cotton pads or a cloth in a mild brew and pop in the freezer then place them over the eyes or make a (very) mild brew and put in the fridge before rinsing your eyes with it.
  • Added to a balm, Elderflower can be applied to the temples to ease headaches, rashes and blemishes.
  • the crushed leaves can be sniffed to ease a blocked nose and rubbed on the skin to deter biting insects.
  • Elderflower is a diuretic meaning it increases urine production helping the body cleans itself of some toxins.
  • It has gentle antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties making it a useful herb all round.

**DISCLAIMER** as always, I am not a medical professional so do seek medical attention and advice blahdy blah.

Magical uses

the Anglo-Saxon word for Elder is ‘Aeld’ meaning fire and is represented in runes as Ruis- for regeneration, the beginning and the end. It is linked to the planet Venus so can be used in beauty spells and rituals.

the Elder tree is also known a the ‘Queen of Trees’ or the ‘Witches Tree’ believed to be inhabited by the Elder Mother and was so feared by country folk they would refuse to cut or burn it lest they suffer her wrath.

Sacred to the Fae and Litha (Summer Solstice, you can read more about that here), Elder represents regeneration and rebirth. Connected to the Chrone and her cauldron, where things rest before they are reborn. It is important to be respectful when collecting Elderflowers and only take few from each tree. I leave a piece of silver as an offering to each one I visit to give thanks and appease the Fae Folk ( also because I want to visit them again later when they have transformed into Elderberries) I have read of rituals where you are required to wait under an Elder tree at sunset on midsummer eve and seek the company of a Fae king. I for one have never tried this, my life is chaotic enough thank you very much! The wood of the Elder tree is popular for making whistles and panpipes for this reason also.

In spellcraft and ritual use, Elderflower helps release congested emotional states. It removes fears and brings clarity, easing worries and night fears. Grow it near your home for protection and prosperity not to mention a close supply.

I’d love to hear how you use it. Particularly in any Litha celebrations you my have. Happy Solstice! Peace out Witches!

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