Home » A Druid's Blog » January Blog 2018 – A wicked cold snap and Elderberries!

January Blog 2018 – A wicked cold snap and Elderberries!

A severe cold snap has blanketed the country and here on the mountain we have been experiencing record cold. At night the house creaks and pops with mysterious sounds that must be cracks forming in wooden roof beams. Extra corn, old bread and seeds have been put out for the birds, to help tide them over the worst of it.

Meanwhile, in the human population the flu epidemic is in full swing. The CDC has been campaigning steadily for people to get a flu shot, even though its only about “ten percent effective” according to reports. I suspect the campaign has more to do with profits than with actual health.

We have known for some time that Elderberry (Sambucus spp.) is effective against the flu because it actually blocks the virus from penetrating human cells. So why not turn to a natural remedy that works? There are a few caveats; Elderberries should not be consumed raw, they need to be cooked (as in syrup or a decoction) or tinctured in alcohol. Elderberries stimulate the immune system so anyone with an auto-immune condition should probably avoid them. And anyone on an immunosuppressant medication should avoid them as well as they could counteract the medicine.

So if you get the flu or want to avoid the flu here are some suggestions;

  • Take 1 tsp. (or about 20 drops) of Elderberry tincture in hot water or tea every 2 hours. Or make a tea of the berries by simmering them for 20 minutes (do not boil) and take ¼ cup every 2 hours.
  • And if you have a generic cold that has gone to the lungs Elderberry can help that too. You can also make a tea of ginger root, lemon and honey. Simmer the fresh root for 20 minutes. You can reuse the same root several times.
  • For colds that have gone to the sinuses Horseradish is the thing. Or Wasabi (the kind that you get with sushi). Make yourself a drink with V-8 or tomato juice, the juice of half a fresh lemon, a few cloves of fresh garlic, a pinch of Cayenne pepper and a few teaspoons of horseradish (Vodka is optional) (smile). Mix it all up in the blender.

*I wish everyone who reads this health and wealth and happiness in the New Year!*

From Scottish Herbs and Fairy Lore (Pendraig Publishing)

Elder, Bourtree

Parts used: the roots, bark, young shoots, leaves, flowers, fruits

Gaelic: ruis

Latin: Sambucus nigra

Elder flower water is used to wash the face as a skin tonic: simmer the flowers lightly for a few minutes then steep (a little Witch Hazel and alcohol can be added as a preservative). Elder flowers and pollen, almond oil and lard are used to make a healing salve for dry, flaky skin conditions (follow the salve making instructions at the start of this chapter). Taken internally the flower tea opens skin pores and promotes sweating, making it helpful for fevers and rheumatism. The young leaves (which must be gathered before Summer Solstice because after that they will contain too many natural pesticides) are used in salves for wounds and burns. The tea of the young leaves and shoots increases urine and helps edema. The bark and root are emetic and diuretic and must be used fresh. Caution: large doses of the bark and root can lead to inflammation of the bowels and violent purging. Only use the leaves when they are very young and fresh. The berry tea and wine are rich in iron, building to the blood, and a remedy for bronchitis, asthma, flu, and chest colds. The berries should be cooked before eating or juicing and can be made into a mildly laxative jam that will soothe intestinal irritations. Bark or root bark tea: 1 tsp. fresh bark or root bark steeped in ½ cup boiled water. Take ¼ cup four times a day and no more (see caution above). Flower tea: steep 2 tsp flowers per 1 cup of water and take hot up to 3 cups a day. The flower tea is safe for children and babies to relieve fever. Elder berries can be baked into pies, scones and breads.

Lore: Elder has a protective female spirit that will protect you against sorcery as long as profound respect is shown to the plant. It is very bad luck to cut down an elder tree or to burn her wood. Use only twigs, leaves and berries or a small section of her root and be sure to thank the Elder Mother when you take any part of her dwelling. Whip handles for hearse drivers were once made of elder to guard against ghosts. Dried elderberries picked on Midsummer’s Day are placed on the windowsill to prevent evil from entering. As with rowan, an elder cross is protective of the house and barn. Make one by binding two equal length twigs with red thread. Hang it over the door, place it by a window, or wear it on your person. The juice of the inner bark is applied to the eyelids to give someone “the Sight”. Stand or sleep under an elder on Samhuinn or Bealltan Eve and you will see Fairies. Wear a sprig somewhere on your person to ward off evil Spirits.

You can find the book in the usual places or order a signed copy from me.


  • The revised and expanded version of Tree Medicine Tree Magic gets a nice review: “She definitely succeeds in showing how easy and practical it is to work with trees, providing many recipes and remedies throughout the book. Despite the plethora of information provided within Tree Medicine Tree Magic, the book is written in such a clear and easy-to-follow style that makes this book accessible to anyone of any experience level.”
  • I just heard from Inner Traditions that my book about New England Witches will be officially released in September 2018. The work covers Witch history from the Bronze Age to the present and features interviews with modern Witches and descendants of those persecuted for Witchcraft. Stay tuned for more….


And below find the usual assortment of Archeology, Climate, Nature, Herb, Fairy, Celtic, Religion and Ethics news. Enjoy!









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