To the old northern European cultures — the ancient Swedes, Norwegians and Danes — the elder tree was sacred and home to Hylde Moer, the Elder Mother. The plant was a symbol of the power of nature and the many gifts nature had to give to those who knew how to seek them out.
Elder Mother was always generous with her gifts, but demanded respect and reverence. It was expected that before you took from Elder Mother that you would ask politely and make an offering to her.
It was a good omen to have an Elder tree near hearth and home to bring good luck and ward off evil.
In the old Irish written alphabet of Ogham, the 15th letter is Ruis (bottom). This letter has come to represent the elder tree and Elder Mother.
Hylde Moer, also written as Hyldemoer, was associated with the goddess Hulda, another form of Hylde, and was the mother of elves. It was believed that if you sat under an Elder Tree on Midsummer’s Eve, the King of the Faeries could be seen.