The Elder – Part 2

This is a photo of a bundle of elder branches showing the warty appearance of the bark.

The Elder Wand became infamous (possibly slandered) in the Harry Potter stories. But I have to ask…

Why does this wand seem to have a mind of its own?

And why is “the bloody trail of the Elder Wand… splattered across the pages of wizarding history.”

One thought in the Harry Potter stories is that, “The Elder Wand knows no loyalty except to strength. So it’s completely unsentimental. It will only go where the power is.”

Creative license, yes.


a tale of the Headless Phantoms, retold by Eoin MacNeill, warns that burning Elder brings nightmarish sounds and visions when burned. Here is my very short version of this story about the Irish hero, Fionn Mac Huill and his companions finding a house in a valley:

Mysteriously, the house was never in that valley before.

But a warm fire tempts them.

And despite dreadful noises, they enter…

and find themselves in a night of horrors,

while an Elder log burns.

They see headless bodies,

and heads without bodies.

And they are assaulted with shrieking and wailing until the sun rises.

But then,

The wood itself makes a poor fuel, and the structure of the wood and its sap makes it scream and spit whilst burning. The belief that it was the Devil spitting from the heat of the fire reinforced the taboo against burning the wood.


Maybe this is why people would planted elders near their homes without burning it… the devil won’t show up and spit at you if you plant elder instead of burning it?

Don’t by any means burn it.

This is a photo of a cut elder branch.

Elder gives life and is known as The Mother Tree.

She is an unusual Mother brining sickly sweet flowers… with a hint of carrion.

Honest and compassionate lesson about life and death.

So, don’t burn the Mother Tree. Who knows what the consequence might be.

Fairies were known to hang about Elders and many feared falling asleep beneath the trees and being captured by the fairies.

Because fairies have an odd sense of time, and an even odder sense of humor.

Except, for some reason, dogs under elders get rainbows.

A rainbow appears in a photo of our Australian shepherd under the blooming elder.

Apparently, fairies love to make musical instruments, like chanters, pipes and flutes out of the hollowed out twigs.

So, don’t anger the fairies by burning their beloved elder wood.

On a more practical note, Elder is made to use a tool known as a fire stick or wand.

The pith of the branches is very soft and can be pushed out to create a tube.

Blowing on a coal through the hollowed branch stokes a fire much like a bellows.

So, don’t burn the elder wand.

Because I need it to blow on the coals in the morning.

This is a photo of the hollowed out elder fire wand.

But maybe burning elder just smells bad, the flowers have a hint of death after all.

I wouldn’t know.

Because I never burn elder.

Read The Elder part 2.