MEDICINAL: Elder flowers, mixed with mint and yarrow blossoms, are excellent internal cleansers when fighting flu and colds. A tea of the elder flowers and sassafras is a remedy for acne. Elder flower oil is a remedy for chapped skin. Elder is used to cleanse the body, build the blood, treat inflammation, fever, and soothes the respiratory system. The leaves can be used as an antiseptic poultice for external wounds, and as an insect repellant. The Greeks used a tea from the root as a laxative. Elder can be toxic, especially if fresh, most notably the stems as they contain cyanide. This herb should not be used internally by pregnant or lactating women.
RELIGIOUS: The branches of the sacred elder are used to make magickal wands for ritual. Scattering the leaves in the four winds will bring protection. Elderberry wine, made from the berries, is used in rituals. In Denmark, it is believed to be unlucky to have furniture made of elder wood. Grown near your home, elder will offer protection to the dwellers. It is used at weddings to bring good luck to the newlyweds. Flutes made formt he branches are used to bring forth spirits.
GROWING: Elder is a tree or shrub, growing to 30 feet tall. It prefers moist areas throughout North America. The leaves, bark, and roots of the American varieties generally contain poisonous alkaloids and should not be used internally.