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Posts Tagged ‘Elder’

TheQuarrelOfOberonandTitania

The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (1846) by Sir Joseph Noel Patton

The faeiries must have been quarreling last night.  Though it was Midsummer’s Eve, it was rainy and windy.  Inclement weather is a sign that arguments are taking place in the realm of faerie folk.  In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ the king and queen of the faeries have an argument that affects the elements: 

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck’d up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents

from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by William Shakespeare

path into the woodsI’d been tentatively planning to sit outside on this night, under an Elder tree in the hope of seeing the King of the Faeries.  Midsummer’s Eve is the only night of the year when this is supposedly possible. 

Yesterday afternoon I set up a solar generated light next to my chosen Elder tree so that I could easily spot it in the dark.  The tiny light , which is in the shape of a hummingbird, changes its color from blue to purple to red to green.  It looks enchanting in the night landscape throughout the seasons.

I set out into the woods at 10:30pm to get a sense of whether or not the faeries might be out.  By then, the trail was already soaked and every green thing was covered with water. 

It was the last night of the old moon, so it was very dark in the woods.  Even if it hadn’t been overcast and raining, it still would have been the darkest of nights. 

At least the mosquitoes weren’t bad.  They can’t fly around in heavy rain.  But neither can the faeries, I soon realized.  I’d have to wait until next year at least to catch a glimpse of the King of the Faeries.

Before heading back inside, I took a couple of photographs.  The flash from my camera lit up the surrounding trees.  There are many Mountain Ash trees in this area.  These are akin to Rowan, which are magical in their own right. 

elder at night

I’m sure many of you don’t believe in faeries anymore.  Perhaps it’s time to reconsider and ask ‘why not?’  A belief in faeries does put a sparkle on the day, and just as with the wild creatures in the woods, just because you haven’t seen them yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be geniuses, read them more fairy tales.

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.

~ Albert Einstein

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elderberry at dawn

Do you have any plans for Saturday night?  Since it will be Midsummer’s Eve, if you’re free, you might consider standing or sitting under an elder tree.   Known as Sambucus nigra in Europe and Sambucus canadensis in North America, it’s not uncommon in Nova Scotia woods where it often only grows to bush size.  It has sprigs of white flowers in early spring that eventually give way to clusters of green and then black berries.  But why would anyone want to stand under an elder tree on Midsummer’s Eve?  According to faerie lore, if one was courageous enough to be under one at midnight, one might be able to catch a glimpse of the King of the Faeries himself.

elder branchesThis special tree has been surrounded by magic and mystery for centuries.  According to legend, the original cross was made of elder wood.  In England, crosses made of elder were nailed to farm buildings to ward off evil spirits.  Hearse drivers carried whips of elder and branches of the same were placed in graves, all with the intent of protecting the living and the dead from evil spirits.  In Serbia, they were carried at weddings for the same reason.

Danish folklore held that the tree was inhabited by a guardian spirit, the Elder Mother, who haunted anyone who dared to cut it down.  Many of these beliefs seem similar to those associated with Rowan trees, which are known as Mountain Ash in North America.

A young elder grows in my yard.  This is a good omen, as it is supposed to flourish near the dwellings of happy people.  Much of the magic associated with this tree is probably due to its many medicinal uses.  It’s easier to be happy if you have good health.

The Elder in Bloom in Early Spring

An Elder in Bloom Earlier this Spring

Getting back to the King of the Faeries… you may be wondering how you’ll recognize him should you decide to venture out under the tree at midnight.  Well, unfamiliar as I am with faeries, I can only go by what little I know of elves and leprechauns from movies.  Meeting the King of the Faeries at a midnight rendez-vous in the woods might be interesting if he looked  like the elf Legolas in Lord of the Rings.  However, it might be an entirely different sort of encounter if he turned out to be more like King Brian from Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People

Legolas (Lord of the Rings) and King Brian (Darby O'Gill and the Little People)

Legolas (Lord of the Rings) and King Brian (Darby O'Gill and the Little People)

If he’s the size of one of the Little People I wonder if I’d even be able to spot him in the dark.  There won’t be much moonlight as the dark side of the moon will be in the sky tomorrow night.  Little People are known for their love of the dance and merrymaking, so listen carefully for music.

Best of luck to any of you who are keen for adventure and willing to try something completely different on Midsummer’s Eve.   Hopefully the mosquitoes won’t be too bad in your neck of the woods.

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