Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Thu, 2009-11-26
The alder is a member of the birch family, considered a cousin to both birch and hazel; it has flowers and seeds borne in catkins; the alder is usually found near streams and does not thrive well on dry ground; since its buds grow in spirals and it is a harbinger of Spring, it has become a symbol of resurrection and new life.
A poor fuel tree, the alder yields excellent charcoal, giving it a Fire correspondence; it is the warrior of the trees, hottest in the fight.
It is especially resistant to water and was often used in the foundations of buildings on waterlogged ground and for lake dwellings; it is also thought to protect against the destructive powers of winter; since it blooms in early spring, it is portrayed as lifting the house out of the floods of winter.
Its name derives from the Old English “ealdor,” meaning “chief” and related to the office of alderman.
In legend, apple orchard islands are surrounded for protection by alders.
The pith of green shoots can be pushed out to make whistles; several shoots bound together by cordage can be trimmed to the desired length for producing the note you want to entice Air elementals; the old superstition of “whistling up the wind” began with this custom.
Dyes are made from the alder; bark=red; flowers=green; twigs=brown; these dyes represent three of the four elements, Fire, Water, and Earth; the red dye was used traditionally to dye the face of the Druids in ritual; the green dye was associated with faery clothing and also coincides with the legend of the Green Man; the use of alder dyes is very ancient in origin.
Divining rods of alder may be used to make rain.
The Alder adds great strength in competition or contentious situations, granting tenacity and determination; it allows one to remain true to his principles and thus steadfast in decisions.
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