Echoes of the Garden

A Place in the World

A Safety Net and A Song

In his book, Trees, A Woodland Notebook, the Right Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell points out that many places in Great Britain are named after the elder. This suggests that elder was both common and noticed.

Elder has always been considered to be female and, like many other female spirits and deities, has been believed to have two sides to her personality.

In Pagan times, under the names of Hylde Moer (Danish) and Mother Holda (German) she was a kindly lady and protector of persons and property from evil spirits. The tree provided a connection to both the Underworld and the Fairy world.

Photo by Oliver Cossalter [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As Christianity took over the elder tree was still seen as protective under some circumstances, but the Elder Mother became a witch.

A great deal of information about the history and connections of the Elder Mother can be found here. Another informative site worth a look is here

Sambucus comes from ancient greek musical instrument. Flutes have been made from her through history. Here's a video.  or if you prefer to read directions, look here

With a nod to her less gentle side, Elderberry also makes a great popgun. The following directions are from Nuyaka Creek Winery, where you can also get elderberry wine if you'd prefer not to make your own. I've never tried them, so if you do, let me know how it is in the comments below.

How to make Elderberry Popguns

The Barrel: Select a long straight stalk at least one foot in length, and then work to pull and push out the spongy center. This is the barrel.

The Ramrod: Next make a ramrod out of a piece of hickory. On the one end, leave the bark on for a large handle of about three inches. Then cut (real kids whittle) the rest of the hickory into a long round stick-like section, slightly smaller in diameter than the barrel.

The Ammo: Take a piece of paper, soak it in water (real kids chaw their own paper, on the spot) and make a wad which you insert into the end of the barrel so that it's fairly tight. A second wad is then inserted into the opposite end.

Firing: With one swift shove of the Ramrod, the air between the wads is compressed to such a high degree that the first wad fires out with a satisfying bang!

The many associations of our Noble Interest make it difficult to cover completely here. When I started writing this piece, I knew of the connection to the Fairy world but I was unaware of all the connections Elderberry has to Goddesses. I'm pleased to have been able to learn this and will enjoy researching the tales of Mother Holly as Crone figure. Did I forget anything? Are you aware of a connection that I missed? Please share it in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!

Tomorrow's tales may bring a bit of snow. Bundle up!

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The information and recipes contained on this site are presented for intellectual and historical interest only. If you are looking for medical advice, please consult with a licensed physician. If you choose to try any recipe for the sake of adventure or curiosity, you do so at your own risk.

About Me

About Me

My interest in plants started young. While most of my friends were playing with Barbie or dreaming of horses, I was out in the fields of our farm creating imaginary villages and caching collected seeds, roots and herbs against winter need. When I discovered the library and field guides, I realized that I had found my passion- the interaction between plants and people. While my caching habits have switched to saving more useful plants, some things don’t change. I still …
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