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Aug 10 2011 03:55 PM | Tana in Perspectives
Written by 8people
In british tree lore the Rowan, Hawthorn and Elder are considered a trinity of trees associated with faeries. This is largely because of the white blossoms - though the Hawthorn native to england has pink edges to the blossoms (Crataegus laevigata - as opposed to the more common Crataegus monogyna)
Elder was said to be the favourite tree for the fae as it makes lovely instruments and is the most melodic, it is easy to make pipes from the wood because of the soft centre which a witch can use to make as offerings to faerie spirits or use in acts to contact the fae (Though be careful of attracting the attention of such a... lively bunch)
Elder leaves can repel flies, and was considered lucky if one too root near your house naturally. They were often kept by the bck door of peoples' homes, generally where kitchens and food were kept keeping it fly free and have nice fresh berries at hand when they ripened. Elder is also supposed to be good at preventing milk from turning, folklore is probably a combination of the tree being associated with faeries and perhaps a practical explanation. Fae are supposed to love milk! Sometimes getting a bit drunk on it depending on your local lore, elder also has an absorbancy for certain tart smells, washing used to be hung on its branches and it would also mask the scent of turning milk.
Anybody leaving food under an Elder overnight is considered having to have offered it to the faeries, trying to claim it back after the night had passed or taking food you see under an elder is considered highly offensive. The wood is a good fuel, but only the most desperate would burn it. The sap in it makes screaming noises and pops and spits loudly when set alight giving people quite a fright, where it burns quite hot some places believed it to be the devil screaming to get out!
Elder is still used medicinally and the flowers and berries in wines and tonics, the berries can be used to make dyes (though I don't know the setting processes used in this) and the leaves make a green/yellow dye. Elderberries have been known to be effective at treating the flu (H1N1 in particular) it also helps boost the immune system in the body (similar to the properties of echinacea) A syrup made from fresh, ripe berries and sugar (5:1 ratio of weight, berries to sugar) can be bottled and kept over winter, mixing a tablespoon or two with hot/warm water drunk at nighttime helps alleviate flu symptoms and chest difficulties whilst trying to sleep. Ginger and cloves added to the mixture is a good remedy for colds. Note that seeds, roots and the wood of elder contain cyanide, unripened berries and the flowers contain toxins as well. As a result be careful using the leaves in teas (toxicity can build up even if a tea contains too little to have an overt ill effect) also avoid giving any flutes or pipes to children as it takes much less to harm their little bodies.
Rowan is another fae favorite and whilst Elder was often kept at the back door, Rowan was kept at the front, where Elder repels flies, the Rowan instead tends to attract them. Rowan has many nicknames including Quickbeam and Witchwood, it is also known as Mountain Ash. It is one of the trees that can grow in high altitudes and very far north compared to most deciduous trees.
Norse traditions quite like the tree (On a recent Viking reading bonanza I went on!) I learnt that the first woman was made from the rowan and it was a tree that saved Thor by bending over a river in the underworld so he could cross it. It is a preferred wood for runes and staves. In britain it is considered a tree of protection and enchantment, in part because of their vibrant red berries (Reminisce...
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