Monday, June 28, 2010

Salon des Plantes with Luna Fina - Elder

Black Elder Sambucus nigra

The Salon des Plantes with Annabella this past Sunday, June 27, focused on Elder.

We began with Annabella calling in the directions in Italian. The first time I heard her do this, it really struck a chord with me. I grew up in a bi-lingual, bi-cultural home. My maternal grandparents spoke Italian all of their lives. My step-father came from Italy and so Italian was often spoken in my childhood home. Hearing Annabella singing out boldly in Italian warmed my heart. I think one reason I have gotten involved in her monthly Salons is just to hear her sing.

Elder is an herb that has been used for centuries by many cultures. The black berries contain high levels of vitamin C and anti-oxidants known as flavonoids.

David Hoffmann in Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, says " The elder tree is a medicine chest in its own right." The leaf can be used for bruises, sprains, and wounds. The flower is an ideal treatment for colds and flu. Standardized extracts of black elderberry has antiviral properties.

Tinctures and teas can be made of the flowers. Juice or syrups can be made of flowers and berries. My Cold Season Syrup and Immune System Tonic both include decoctions of elder flower and berries.

Tradition says that Elder has magical properties as well.

Wikipedia says: The Elder Tree was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, a popular belief held in some cultures. If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.

The most powerful wand in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a wand made of sambucus known as the "Elder Wand".

For in depth information go to A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve here

Every session of Salon des Plantes, we experience the plant on many levels. There are washes, teas, and dry and fresh plant on hand. There is at least one growing plant at the Peralta Community Garden for us to visit and commune with.

We observe the plant, then draw it. We do a guided visualization where we are encouraged to meet the spirit of the plant and find out if it has a message for us.

This time during the journey, I found myself in a Greek temple on a hillside overlooking the sea. Elder told me that she stores ancient wisdom and that I could spend a lifetime learning her secrets. I was inspired to wildcraft the flowers that are abundantly available near my home.

A few years ago I planted an elderberry in my garden. It is quite small and doesn't seem to flourish despite the fact that so many of them grow wild in my area. This year it didn't return, or so I thought. This morning, after the Salon, I found it. I was so thrilled to see that it had survived the wet winter.