The Celtic Tree Month of Elder (Ruis) November 25 – December 22nd
The theme for this month is death, rebirth and the return of light. This month begins with the dark time of the year and ends with the birth of the sun at the Winter Solstice. Other names for this tree are Frau Holle (German), Eldrum, Ellhorn, Boure Tree, Lady Ellhorn. The word Elder comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “aeld” meaning fire. Evidently, the young branches have hollow stems that make them useful in making a fire.
The elder tree is both a tree and a shrub and is a member of the honeysuckle family. The shrub grows to about 30 ft. while the tree grows to around 50 ft. Both varieties like damp places along the edge of the woods. Elder has incredible regenerative power and can quickly regrow branches and roots. The tree has beautiful white flowers in the spring, growing in formations that resemble a bridal wreath. The flowers become reddish-black berries and make the most wonderful jellies, jams, and syrups. The branches of the elder tree have a strong resemblance to bones when peeled of their bark. In the middle of the branches is a spongy center that looks similar to marrow. An unsuspecting person might actually believe the bare branches to be human bones!
ELDER IN HEALING
Elder is also a medicinal plant, the berries and flowers have many uses. However, it’s good to point out that on the whole elder is considered poisonous. The dried berries and flowers make wonderful tea which is high in vitamins A, C, iron, Calcium, and Potassium. This makes it beneficial for colds and sore throats. A distilled version of the flowers is good for treating cuts, burns, and scrapes. Please keep in mind that if you pick elderberries make darn sure that they are ripe. Unripe elderberries cause severe diarrhea.
ELDER IN MAGIC & MYTH
The Elder has long been associated with Witches but it appears in Christian myths as the tree of doom. Judas was said to have hung himself from one and the cross of Jesus was made of Elder wood.
The Celts believed that these trees were homes to the Sidhe and treated them with respect when cut the tree produces a reddish sap that made people believe that the spirit within the tree had been hurt. It is considered very bad luck to harm one but if you must cut or prune an elder tree one should always ask permission first. It is also bad luck to make a cradle for a baby out of elder, this is because of the tree’s association with death. Planting an elder tree near your home will create good relations with the fae as well as bringing prosperity to the home and its inhabitants. Even today there remain some taboos against burning the wood. Placing elder wood on your windowsill will keep vampires away, you can also wear it to the same effect. The folklore about vampires is said to be much older than the use of garlic.
Use Elder for spells of banishing, faery magic, healing, protection, and prosperity. Elder wood is also good for making magical tools, but remember to ask first!
As a magical name Elder is good for the person who is serious about magic. It also invokes mystery, luck, and sturdiness of character.
ABOUT ELDER PEOPLE
People born in the Month of Elder can be wonderful healers and seers as well as gifted musicians. They are slow to mature and waste time and energy on things not worthwhile. They can be very curious about profound subjects and study these things intensely. As healers or seers, elder people must choose their words carefully as they can be very persuasive with their speech. They must be careful not to sway the thinking of others and let them make their own decisions.
Deities: The White Goddess, Danu, Cailleach, Boann, Hel, Frey, Vulcan, Venus
Animals: All white animals, raven, pheasant
Sacred Stones: Red Jasper, jet, bloodstone
Compiled and written by Cat from the following sources:
the crystal forest
The New Book of Magical Names, Phoenix McFarland
Cunninghams Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham
Flower and Tree Magic, Richard Webster
Elder Tree photo courtesy of Michael & Christa Richert/freeimages.com