Autumn, Elderberries, and the Journey Inward.
I have been in denial, I was not ready for summer to come to an end, but the elderberries are ripe and a full harvest moon is upon us.
To me, autumn feels bittersweet. In this area we are blessed with the harvest of ripe fruits and vegetables. Autumn is a time for reflection and a shift inward; a mystical time of the year, when the veils between worlds are thin and the winds begin to blow.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine autumn is a the time of year when the yang energy and warmth of the sun wanes, and the yin energy becomes prominent; Autumn is time to slow down, prepare for winter, strengthening our immune systems, digestive and respiratory systems.
Here in North Central Washington, the end of summer and early fall provides an abundance of Blue Elderberries. Elder has a long history in folklore and is considered a herb of protection. Elder reflects the energies of the season to come; in spring Elder blooms with sweet smelling delicate umbles of white blossoms, offering us a preview of of the light new energy of spring. In late summer, as the world is preparing for the darkness of winter, Elder offers clusters of dark berries. Blue Elderberry is the variety which grows so abundantly on the east slopes of the Cascades. When ripe, the dark berries are coated with a white waxy bloom, reminding us of impending snow to come
I believe that herbs present themselves when they are needed most; harvesting and tincturing elderberries has become a seasonal ritual. The herbal remedies I turn to in fall and winter are from the season's abundance.
The tiny elderberry is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, astringent and alterative. Elder is an important herb for the immune system and works best when small doeses are taken regularly. At the first sign of illness, the dose should be taken several times a day. Colds and flus are both effectively treated with elderberry. Elderberry is a rare herb in that it not only prevents infection but also treats the infection after its taken hold.
As part of my journey to prepare for the changing seasons, I harvested elderberries during the full moon when the last of the Elder's summer energies are pulled into the berries. The resulting Blue Elderberry Elixir will be an important remedy in the Autumn Wellness Share.