We are just into the Celtic Tree month of Elder, an enchanting small tree…
‘The tree is said to have within itself the ‘Elder Mother’, called Elle or Hyldemoer in Scandinavian and Danish myth. She is said to work strong earth magic and according to legend, avenged all who harmed her host trees. No forester of old would touch elder, let alone cut it, before asking the Elder Mother’s permission three times over and even then he was still in dread of her possible wrath. Likewise, in many country districts of Europe and Britain, wise people will show respect by touching their hats when passing elder trees, in continuance of ancient custom. Certain North American tribes also believe that elder is the Mother of the human race.
According to legend, witches would often turn themselves into elder trees, and one famous witch-tree turned a king and his men to stone, thereby creating the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire, England. This ancient piece of folklore tells of a Danish king, on his way to battle for the English Crown with his warriors, meeting the witch and asking her what his fate would be. The witch replied:
Seven long strides thou shalst take,
And if Long Compton though canst see
King of England thou thalst be.’
Source: ‘Tree Wisdom’ by Jacqueline Memory Paterson