Create Your True Self with Elder Tree Love and Elder Berry Syrup
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It is the season for children to be back in school and for cool breezes to blow the leaves around. It is the season of cinnamon and clove spices and steaming hot beverages in the mornings. It is the season for sipping health-giving, delicious Elder Berry Syrup. And I'm going to share my favorite recipe with you!
The Elder Tree
Elder Berry Syrup has become pretty well known for its ability to prevent or shorten illnesses like colds and flus, but there is more to it than just that. Elder Trees have been revered and cultivated throughout history, and there are native species of Elder (or Sambucus) in just about every part of the world. Even Harry Potter's wand was made of Elder wood!
Elder Trees in America are woody shrubs that are sometimes planted near homes for their pretty white flowers. They are fast growing perennials and can live for 60 years with very little tending! Gardener's Path has a very informative article about planting, growing, and harvesting elderberries.
Spiritual Qualities of Elder
Elder Trees have long been believed to ward off evil spirits and to protect our health. In folklore, they are also linked with death, rebirth, self-assessment and legacy. The Elder Tree inspires us to take a look at our selves. Who are we and what are our lives? Is this who we want to be? Are we creating a valuable legacy for our children?
Look more closely. Notice the gentleness of the pure white flowers and the power of the deep purple berries. What do you want to change in yourself or in your life so that you can be more true to your own spirit? What do you want to create for the children? What will you leave when you are gone?
See Tree Symbolism for more detail about the spiritual qualities of Elder.
As I learned in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and An Outline of Esoteric Science by Rudolf Steiner , the plants take care of us. They provide much of our food, obviously, but also our clothing (think of cotton) and homes (wood) and medicine. Elder is one of the longest revered of the healing herbs.
According to Herb Wisdom, elderberry can be used "for its antioxidant activity to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections, and tonsillitis."
Spiritual Meaning of Illness
In our culture, illness is feared and discomfort is to be avoided at all costs. It has not always been so. The discomfort of illness can be a training period for the soul. It is a powerful opportunity to tune out the noise of the world and listen to God.
If we learn to accept discomfort, abide it, pray about it, and eventually walk out of it, our strength will grow. Our spiritual stamina, willpower, and compassion will increase.
Further, illness can give the body an opportunity to change. Whenever a child goes through a physical growth spurt or significant educational attainment or an adult takes a spiritual growth step, our bodies must change to accommodate our new selves. Memories are stored in our body's cells, and the old ways must be eliminated so that new healthier cells can take their place. One of the easiest ways for a body to go through this transition process is through illness. A fever can burn off the old or negative, and the mucus and bodily fluids that amplify themselves during an illness can carry away the dead cells.
As summarized in Fever: Views in Anthroposophic Medicine and Their Scientific Validity fever has many beneficial qualities:
The leading motif in anthroposophic medicine is that warmth and, in disease, fever are direct manifestations of the “self” working on the body, making the body more an instrument and expression of the “ego,” the “I” (in German “das Ich”) [19–22, 25–27].
Antipyretics such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen should be used sparingly: only if other means of relieving discomfort fail or if fever needs to be suppressed for other medical reasons [8, 19–22, 25–27].
Rather than medicating a fever, allow it to run its course (unless it gets dangerously high). Allow it to make changes in the body, including killing the viruses or bacteria that were able to take hold when a transition was needed. Some childhood illnesses are even understood to decrease cancer risks later in life! Click this link for some information from Seattle Children's Hospital about when to call a doctor or seek immediate care for a fever.
Elder to Support the Soul During Illness
By using Elder Berry instead of OTC medication, you give your body the opportunity to re-make itself for your higher spiritual purpose. Take the time to lie in bed and pay attention to the altered state that a fever brings you to. Dreams can be seen here; dreams can be constructed here; dreams can be turned into first steps. Become clear on who you want to be, and let the past go.
Oftentimes, when children stand up from an illness, they are taller than when they went to bed. The illness accompanies or facilitates the growth spurt. This can be true for the adult soul as well. After an illness, stand up taller than before and be your true self.
Elder Berry Syrup is Delicious!
Elder must really want to help us because it has made its berries so delicious! People use Elder Berries to make pies and jams and wines and all kinds of delicious treats.
However, Elder is also dangerous. Parts of the plant are poisonous, including the raw berries. You must bring Elder Berries to a boil before consuming them! Elder wants us to take our time, be thoughtful about the healing process. This is not something you can just jump into. You can't walk out in the yard and start chomping on Elder Berries just because they are there. You can't just decide to have a spiritual evolution and jump up and expect it to be done.
Elder Berry Syrup is Easy to Make at Home!
This recipe is easy and delicious! When we are sick or trying to avoid illness, my family members each take a spoonful a day or more. It's so delicious that sometimes it's hard to stop drinking it. The syrup can also be served on waffles or pancakes, and it can be added to hot water to make a delicious tea that children love!
It is important to use good ingredients. If you harvest the Elder Berries yourself, make sure that they have not been sprayed with pesticides or any other toxic chemicals. I get my Elder Berries and spices from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are excellent quality. (One 4 oz bag of berries is about the right amount for 2 people for one fall and winter. They are sold in one-pound bags for larger families.)
It is especially important to use real maple syrup. The maple-flavored syrups are terrible for you, whereas the real stuff that comes out of maple trees has compounds in it that also support the immune system, especially for fighting off colds!
Elder Berry Syrup Recipe
2/3 cup Elder Berries
3 1/2 cups Water
1 Tablespoon Ground Sweet Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/3 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 cup Maple Syrup
Put all ingredients except maple syrup into a medium pot on high heat.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for approximately an hour. (I watch for the mixture to reduce about an inch down from its height in the pot.)
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Strain into a jar.
Add maple syrup and shake.
Store in the refrigerator.
Blessings of Health and Happiness
May your relationship with the Elder Tree deepen this season and bring you and your family greater health and happiness!