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Posts Tagged ‘midnight’

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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