Did you remember to thank the Elder?
Yes, I thanked her before, offered cornmeal, and again after. And I made sure to ask for, and receive permission.
That made my day, my ten year old daughter asking me this on our way back from picking. She usually participates, but today she has one arm in a sling with a badly sprained wrist, and so was not up for teetering along the loose wood chipped bank. She opted to find the first of the ripening blackberries, along with her brother, on steady ground. So, I thought she wasn't really paying attention, but of course, she was.
The blossoms towered over me as I stood under the great Mother, invisibly annointing me with the softest, most lovely powdery scent. The gleaming sun poured in from the ripening morning sky. We got up early for this walk, since hotter weather was expected for today. The stems were hardy, some brown and woody, some young and tender green. All have interesting blemishes all over, like pretty warts or eccentric polka-dots. This reminds me of how soothing Elder is for blemished skin and chicken pox. I carefully lower the branches with the newly opened, white flowers, though cream colored is really more true, and snip the stem above the first leaf thereafter. I laugh as the tree showers me with loose and falling blossoms. I think of the water nymphs, being seduced by the reed music of Pan, and of sorcery being conducted by Gypsies. And more practically I remember two weeks ago curing a Nettle sting on my Son's leg with a spit poultice of Elder leaf, and it curing it more rapidly than Plantain. I made sure not to swallow any juice, but alas I was dizzy and nauseous for much of the remaining day.
I use her medicine with care, and this first real harvest has come only after planting two of her in my own yard last year to watch her transition through each season, and much reading and watching of her over the last few years. Elder is a plant I wanted to take my time with, to get to know her in's and outs, and to discover all of her multifaceted personality. I dare not pick prematurely .... for I have been warned against pissing off the Great Elda Mor!
Some parts of the plant (leaf, root, stem) are not gentle medicines like the flower and berry are. The tincture of the flowers I use for colds and flu's and just if I am under the weather a bit. I love the taste and smell, so gentle and soothing. Elder berries I love, for throat troubles, bad colds and especially for my children. But there is such a panacea found in our dear Elder that I couldn't possibly list .... I'd be writing for days. Kiva Rose has shared with me wonderful knowledge about Elder as an adaptogenic.
As you can see from the picture, I have decided to try making an Elder Blossom infused oil along side my tincture. Let's hope it doesn't spoil. Usually I use Olive oil for infusing plants, but for these lacy, ladylike beauties, I chose my good stuff; Organic cold pressed Apricot Kernel oil. MMMmmmmmm, it's my favorite, it's silky feel and apricot-cherry aroma is simply divine. I thought it the perfect carrier.
I also gently removed some small dead branches that were not growing anything, in hopes of having a wand.
When I got home, it was getting hot. I had to get out of my pants and socks. So I went upstairs to change, and guess what I found? A little, tiny, single blossom, perfectly intact, resting right inside my belly button! It was like a kiss from Mother Elder. And yes, I did take a picture, but it's not going up here:)