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The Powerful Magickal Properties of Elderberry

Hi, my loves and welcome to WiccaNow. I’ve been going down a herbal path recently and have been sharing guides to all my favourite magickal herbs and plants, like this post all about the magickal properties of aloe. I’ve also shared a post detailing apple magick, another about the uses of catnip in magick and one all about comfrey. Most recently I’ve shared my guide to the magickal properties of daisies. I want to continue on this road by sharing my guide to the magickal properties of elderberry.

Elderberry is an ancient healing plant which has been used for hundreds of years to treat ailments ranging from colds and flu to skin irritations to sprains and bruises. The elder tree is seen as a holy tree in some cultures and is revered for its magickal properties and its connection to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The magickal properties of elderberry include healing, protection, love and many more.   

botanical illustration of sambucus nigra for the magickal properties of elderberry
This botanical drawing is of Sambucus Nigra, the most common form of elderberry found in Europe.

Disclaimer: Any medicinal benefits given here are a product of my own research and as such should not be taken over the advice of trained medical professionals. If you are ill, please go and see a doctor. Always make sure that anything you consume is 100% safe. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor or midwife before consuming something you haven’t tried before.

History of Elderberry

Elderberry, also known as Sambucus, is a member of the Adoxaceae family. There are around 10 different species of small trees and scrubs in the Sambucus genus. It’s uncertain exactly where it originated, but its thought that elderberry is native to the temperate and subtropical areas of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. 

Elderberry has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant all over the world. Its thought that it may have existed as early as 12,000BC and that its seeds were spread by the retreating Ice Age. Seeds have been found in Neolithic dwellings in Switzerland from around 2,000BC, suggesting that Elderberry may have been cultivated by then. 

elder flowers blooming for the magickal properties of elderberry

Theophrastus (371-287BC), a Greek herbalist, philosopher and historian, described elder in his book “Historia Plantarum” although he didn’t mention using it medicinally. Hippocrates (460-370BC) had already described its medicinal uses and by the time of Pliny the Elder (23-79AD)  the properties of elder were well known. Pliny even described how the twigs could be used to make a loud pipe, something that is interesting as Native Americans made very similar pipes. 

Various famous herbalists describe the medicinal benefits of Elder in their texts. It’s mentioned in Dioscorides “Materia Medica” and by 1644 a whole book was written extolling the medicinal benefits of Elder. This book by Martim Blockwich was called “The Anatomie of the Elder”. 

Elder was used a lot in Native American medicine too. They used it for fevers, to ease skin complaints, as a laxative and they fermented the berries to treat rheumatism. It was also common to sprinkle the dried herbs around the home to act as an insect repellent.

Many people believed that the elder tree was a holy tree and that anyone who harmed the tree would incur a run of bad luck and illness. This still exists in the witchcraft world today with many practitioners agreeing that in order to make an elder wood wand (read about witches wands here), you need to be lucky enough to find a piece of fallen wood as anything else will bring bad luck. To read more about the folklore behind Elder, check out this interesting article from the Herb Society of America.

Fun Facts about Elderberry

ripe elderberries for magickal properties of elderberry
  • Elderberry used to be classified as part of the honeysuckle family, but after genetic research, it was reclassified in the Adoxa genus
  • While the berries are safe to eat when cooked, the raw berries, flowers, leaves and stems are actually toxic and will cause nausea among other symptoms. I found this out the hard way haha. 
  • Elderberries contain 2x the vitamin C of an orange and 3x the antioxidants of a blueberry.
  • The stems of an elder tree have very soft cores, which mean they are easy to hollow out. This makes elder perfect for making musical instruments with. 
  • Legend has it that Prometheus gave humans fire in the hollowed out stem of an elder branch. 
  • Some people believe that elder trees are inhabited by a goddess of vegetation named Hylde Moer. Due to her inhabitation, it was believed that elder was rarely struck by lightning and this was the reason it was planted in gardens close to the house. 
  • There is a lot of research available about the use of elder in Europe. There is much less research about elder in the US.
  • Elder grows well in both dry and wet soils, which is relatively unusual. It does prefer a lot of sunlight. 
  • Farmers used to attach elderberry twigs to the ears of their cattle in an attempt to keep insects away. 
  • The leaves, bark and berries of the elder tree make beautiful natural dyes in black and purple shades. 
  • Elder trees have been both the villain and the hero in many different cultures. It’s been called the tree of the devil, but also the tree of life. It was revered for its medicinal uses but was also strongly associated with witchcraft and it was believed that witches could turn themselves into elder trees. 
  • Some claim that the cross used for the crucifixion of Christ was made from elder. It’s also claimed that Judas hung himself from an elder tree. This may be because elder trees were sacred to the Druids and the Christian Church was trying to remove them from power. Making people believe that an elder tree held a negative connotation was a way to stop them worshipping elder trees and spirits. 
ripe elder berries for the magickal properties of elderberry

Medicinal Uses of Elderberry

Elderberry was a common cure for colds and flu for 100s of years and was used to treat over 70 different ailments by ancient herbalists. 

Please note that eating any part of the tree raw is not advised, as it contains toxic compounds which will lead to nausea and other unpleasant side effects. Eating large quantities of the uncook elder tree can result in serious poisoning. Cooking the berries or the flowers destroys these compounds and makes elderberry safe to consume. 

  • May help to treat sprains and bruises
  • May help heal burns and prevent scarring
  • May help to alleviate symptoms of the flu
  • Antibacterial
  • May help to brighten your complexion
  • Contains a good amount of vitamin A, making it great for eye health and your immune system
  • Contains vitamin B6 which can help to fight depression
  • High in antioxidants
  • Contains iron and potassium
  • May provide pain relief
  • May work as a diuretic
  • May help heart health
  • May protect the skin from UV light
  • May help against constipation
elderberry juice for the magickal properties fo elderberries

Magickal Properties of Elderberry

Always be careful when harvesting any part of the elder tree. If you want to take a branch, find one that’s already fallen rather than one that’s healthy and strong. If you are picking the berries, leaves or flowers, say thank you to the tree before you do it.

Harness the magickal properties of elderberry twigs and leaves to smoke cleanse your home and to expel any negative energies that may have crept in. Plant and elderberry tree in your garden to provide constant protection from negative or malevolent energies. 

If you feel spiritually wounded, take a ritual bath filled with freshly picked elderberry leaves and flowers. If it’s not the right season for fresh elderberry flowers, use ones that you have dried previously. Place fresh elderberry flowers in a glass of beer and share it with your partner if you want to strengthen your love and create a longlasting connection.

If you gather elderberries when they are ripe and make a juice from them, the juice will help to enhance your intuition. Make sure you cook the juice before you drink it though…

The magickal properties of elderberry include
  • Beauty
  • Love
  • Purification
  • Healing
  • Abundance
  • Protection
  • Astral projection

Magickal Associations of Elderberry

Deities – Freya, The Fae, Holle

Magickal Correspondences of Elderberry

Zodiac – Libra, Aquarius and Sagittarius

Planet – Venus

Element – Water

Gender – Feminine

Crystals – Black obsidian, clear quartz and citrine

elderflower close up for the magickal properties of elderberry
The magickal properties of elderberry are powerful and varied. How can you not be won over by this beauty?

So, my lovelies, I hope that this guide to the magickal properties of elderberry gives you all the information you were looking for! May your nights be filled with beautiful dreams, your days filled with beauty and your heart filled with love. 

Until next time,

Blessed be,