Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lessons from an Elder

Last week at the farm Eli excitedly pointed out to me that our Elder bushes were in full bloom; majestic clusters of tiny white flowers sprang from the branches. We took in their beauty, breathed in their goodness. We spoke about their healing properties and many medicinal benefits. I had heard of people using Elderberry syrup for colds and flu with much success, but was not sure where to find the berries or if they were native to our region. Thankfully, we've got some growing at the farm and plan to start making medicine with them this year.
I left the farm in good spirits: high on a hard day's work and freshly dispensed plant knowledge. Later that evening, I was driving on a country road and spotted what appeared to be another Elder bush. I quickly turned back and collected a sample to identify. My idea was to come back later and collect the entire bush. I was pumped. Well, imagine my excitement when I turned into my driveway and noticed the very same plant growing right along the edge of our property! Confirmation came from several field guides and a quick internet search; I've got my very own Elder bush growing at home. It must have been there all along, but I had not noticed it until then.
I spent the next few days reveling in the joy that comes from knowing that the Earth will provide for you the things that you need and reveal them to you only when you are able to see. More research was done on the many uses of the plant- medicinal, culinary, and other. I pondered over whether to harvest the flowers now and use them in teas or wait until the berries show up later in the year. The decision was made to wait it out and collect as many berries as possible for use in medicine. I could hardly wait. My love affair with the Elder bush had begun.

Now is a good time to point out that the property I call home is not owned nor fully maintained by myself alone. In the hubbub of my daily life I failed to mention my newly formed friendship with the Elder bush to those who share in the responsibilities. Alas, my beloved bush was cut in half by an unknowing weed wacktress: devastation, then mourning. *Cue sad music.

Today I decided to do some more research- a coping mechanism of mine. In my searching I found these sparkling gems:

Death is a symbol of rebirth, transformation, change, and initiation. The sun is rising; a new day is being born. The blooms symbolize the rejuvenation that we will experience by shedding our old skin, our worn-out ways, for the rebirth of self.

Death of the old is necessary for the new to emerge. The old is like the compost heap, full of rich experiences from which new forms emerge. 

The elder is a very adaptable tree, quite able to regenerate itself in many ways. It can be rooted from a branch and re-grows limbs quickly, allowing it to recover from damage of both natural and unnatural assailants with equal ease. 

I honor the energy of Elder, which sees the end from the beginning.

Throughout many lifetimes I have been here.

I have the knowledge that I have changed myself again and again.
I will start from where I am now, and continue to persist in my path.
I will succeed.
So mote it be.

Ah ha! I had believed my lesson to be that of opening myself up to receive and being fulfilled. While that did happen and I do feel provided for, I know now that I (and you) can learn so much more from this. Here's a sample: 
  • Spending time at the farm leads to awesome things.
  • Talking to Eli about what is growing on the farm is invaluable time spent. 
  • The Elder bush is a veritable medicine chest AND makes tasty food. 
  • Opening up to what the Earth provides allows for abundance, healing, and growth.
  • Talk to the people you share responsibilities with about the things that are sacred to you so they do not unwittingly destroy them. 
  • Shit happens; it all works out anyway. Bushes get cut down and they grow back, especially the Elder bush. We recover. 

With Love,