Plant Name: Elder Berry
Botanical Name: Sambucus nigra
Common Names: Sweet Elder, Tree of Doom, Pipe Tree, Witch’s Tree, Old Lady
Deities: Triple Goddess, Devas, Holda
Magickal Properties: Nature magick, releases spells, protection, exorcism
Elder Berries, or Sambucus nigra, are laden with numerous tales and stories throughout folklore and history, and are particularly linked to those legends and myths involving magic and spirits. Indeed, in English and Scandinavian folklore the belief was held that if you cut down the Elder tree a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released to take her revenge upon the hapless wood cutter. This could only be avoided while chanting "Old girl, give me some of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree." Otherwise, Elder Berries are also held to be a powerful aid in warding off evil influence, as well as curses and spells intended to do harm. Shakespeare even wrote of it, speaking of it as a symbol of grief, perhaps due to many Christian beliefs that Judas was hung from an Elder Tree in his grief, as well as that the Cross of Calvary was made of Elder wood.
While many legends surround the wood, the berries themselves are still frequently utilized in making pies, jellies, and jams, as well as the occasional wine. Some herbalists also hold that Elderberries show potential in treating the symptoms of Influenza, with an extract created from the berry helping many recover in 2-3 days without many of the ill effects that result from many over-the-counter medications. Because of this, it is believe to stimulate the immune system and improve its ability to fight disease.
Remember: This is just general information, always seek medical advice before using.