Elder Trees Healing Qualities
The ancient Celts had a special relationship with trees. Trees provided shelter for themselves, birds and animals. Fruit from trees provided food and branches fed to a fire would give off heat for warmth and cooking.Trees were recognised as a symbol of life and regeneration.
Trees were used for divination, for ceremonies to gain spiritual knowledge and insight and for healing. In many parts of the British Isles, the elder was respected and sometimes feared for its magical associations. It was believed that if you stood underneath an elder tree on All Hallow's eve you would see the faery host riding by. Wine made from the last of the elderberries picked at Samhain were thought to be the last sacred gift of Mother Earth. Druids would drink this during a solemn rite to invoke prophetic hallucinations. Leaves of the Elder tree that were gathered on May eve were believed to have the power to cure warts and wounds. Many people in the Isle of Man still believe Elders are the main dwelling places for elves. The Elder, in ancient days, was believed to have strong protective qualities.
The Elder Tree is still used for its powers of healing. All parts of the tree: its flowers, leaves, roots, shoots, berries and bark are used to treat a variety of illnesses. The leaves, for instance, might be made into an ointment in order to soothe swellings, sprains, wounds, chilblains and bruises.
The flowers and fruit are used for making jams, tea and wine. Flowers can be used as an infusion for hay fever. Elder flower can be made into a skin cream and elder flower water is used as a remedy for sunburn. The leaves of a Black Elder can be used as an insect repellent.
Leaves and shoots of an elder tree are used as diuretics; the bark and roots can also be utilised for a similar purpose. If you have a headache, try lying down in a dark room with warm leaves of the elder on your temple as this can be incredibly soothing. The healing powers of Elder are also used for colds, influenza and hayfever. Elder berries contain anti-oxidant vitamins A and C, potassium and iron.
The bark of the elder tree can be calming for eczema and other skin conditions when made into a soothing ointment.
Ointment for Bruises:
Add double the amount of Vaseline to the amount of fresh elder leaves, heat these together until the leaves are crisp. Strain and store in a cool place.
Infusions from Elder
Gather the creamy blossom heads on a sunny day. Dry these by spreading them until they are crumbly. Separate the flowers from the stalks by rubbing and shaking them. Store the petals in an airtight jar to make an infusion.
Caution: Elderberries should not be eaten raw; neither should they be used for making fresh juice as this can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.