History and Folklore
The Elder-tree is one of the most common and most beloved plants of our countryside. Our Celtic ancestors knew it as ‘scobiém’ and revered it as Mother Elder, an earthly manifestation of the Great Goddess, who presided over both life and death. Her trees represented a gateway to the ‘Otherworld’ and on Midsummer nights, sensitive individuals could ‘see’ the little folk- if they sat under an Elder-tree. Folklore and folk medicine is full of lore about this remarkable tree. It has been called ‘the apothecary of the country people’, for every part of the plant was used in various ways and in a multitude of remedies. However, the berries are slightly toxic and should not be consumed raw in large amounts. An oil pressed from the seeds is used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. The skin of the dark blackish-blue berries contains the pigment Sambicyanin, which has been shown to act as a free radical scavenger. In the old days the pigment was used as a colouring agent for dyeing hair, leather or wool.
Today, the berries are widely used for making country wine and hedgerow jam. They have sometimes been used to adulterate port wine - with the unintended positive effect of fortifying the wine and giving it a tonic effect.
While in the old days every part of the plant was valued for its respective healing properties, today only the flowers are used medicinally. However, it would be a mistake to shun the berries, which are very rich in vitamins, minerals and radical scavenging pigments. They make an excellent immune system boosting elixir and can be used as syrup, soup, juice or alcoholic elixir. Regular doses help to fend of colds and flus and aid the recovery process. They also contain anti-inflammatory agents, which can reduce the painful swellings that characterise rheumatic and arthritic joints.
Wine made of Elderberries is an appropriate ritual cup for ceremonies that honour those who have gone before us and to attune to the transformational powers of the Great Goddess, who presides over life and death. The berries can also be used for making magical ink, and as a dye for the altar cloth and rope.
Plants nourish and feed us, add spice to our life, bestow health and beauty, scent and colour and brighten our days. They mediate love, hope and gratitude; they clothe and cleanse us, they heal and soothe our bodies, minds and souls. They touch every aspect of our existence, from our daily sustenance to the air we breathe, to the keys to other dimensions. They are the alchemists that turn sunlight into the green force of life, continuously revolving, restoring, rebirthing through the cycles of time. They truly are the greatest gift of nature, yet also the one we most take for granted.
Star Child's range of botanicals derives from many regions and traditions of the world. We supply only the best quality herbs, using organically grown and sustainably harvested sources if available. The greater the demand for organic products the more readily they will become available. Your choice to buy and our commitment to supply organic herbs is part of the driving force that sows the seeds for a greener, healthier future.
There are dozens of ways in which herbs can be used. Many culinary herbs not only impart a great flavour but also have subtle effect on the digestive process. Other herbs are more medicinal than culinary and can be used as remedies, based on the wisdom of age old traditional plant knowledge. For more detailed information on the different types of preparations that can be made with herbs, please refer to the BOTANICALS USAGE section.
We support the notion of taking responsibility for one's own well being and thus strive to make all herbs available for use at your own discretion. It should be noted however, that not all herbs are safe to use in all circumstances. Special cautions may apply when suffering from certain medical conditions, when taking synthetic prescription drugs and during pregnancy. Research and familiarize yourself with any herb you intend to use and make sure you are aware of all special cautions that may apply. The information given here is based on thousands of years of traditional use. It is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace a visit to a medical professional where this is necessary.
If symptoms persist or re-occur, or if you are suffering from a serious medical condition, or if you are presently taking prescription drugs, we recommend that you consult a qualified doctor or practitioner before attempting to help yourself. Look for a practitioner/doctor who you can trust and who is prepared to explore natural health alternatives with you.
Pregnancy is a very special time. If chosen wisely herbs can give tremendous support throughout the entire process. However, due to the vulnerability and sensitivity of the unborn child it is especially important to make sure that the herbs you are using are safe. (This also applies during the time of breast-feeding as all substances ingested by the mother are processed and passed on with the mother's milk). Many herbs may be useful during the latter stages of pregnancy or during labour, but could be dangerous during the first few months. Inform yourself - don't risk regret.