Alder is the common name for the family known as birch. It covers 35 different trees and shrubs, they can grow anything up to 90 ft and live for around 150 years, alders are deciduous, and the leaves are alternate, simple, and serrated. The flowers are catkins with elongate male catkins on the same plant as shorter female catkins, often before leaves appear; they are mainly wind-pollinated, but also visited by bees to a small extent.
The leaves were traditionally added to a bed to treat rheumatism. Alder bark and wood (like oak and sweet chestnut) contain tannin and are traditionally used to tan leather. A red dye can also be extracted from the outer bark, and a yellow dye from the inner bark. a paste made of crushed leaves was useful when spread on to burns and a cloth bag, filled with alder leaves and warmed, was said to alleviate the aches of rheumatism and muscular back pain, or to dry breast milk. The cones were used in the west country to brew a drink which apparently cured gout. A tea made from the leaves and / or bark may relieve symptoms in any thoat infection including tonsillitis.
Because it is a tree that allows access to the faerie realms, it is not good fortune to cut one down, as it is a charm against malevolent fairies. Water sprites are said to protect the tree, so again, be wary of cutting it down.Alder harnesses the power of the four elements and can be a bit unpredictable. Alder wands are most often used in resurrection ceremonies. Alder bark and wood is a very purposeful base for loose incense and extremely useful for driving away negativity. Alder wood should be used for magicks that need to balance action with emotion.
#witch #wednesday #alder
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