Hylde-mođer (Elder Mother)

The Little Elder Tree Mother
Ellærn, eller, eldre
Eldrun, hyldor, hylanntree
Hylde-mođer you shall be.

Holding

My tender silver reaching roots
in winter cradle death.
Moulding,
mourning,
moving back.

Icy winds
whirl around my naked branches.
Black crows sail across the sky.
At night a million tiny moons
glitter in the snow drifts.

Quickening

The wind shifts
and the sun warms my branches.
My sap softens
and moves through me in a tickle of delight.

The flowing up
eases my holding.

Blooming

A ruffled feathered sparrow alights
in my branches
and calls to her sisters.
They chatter.
My leaves unfurl.

I am white blossom bliss.
Each a tiny peak of pleasure.
I tremble in delight,
gladly offering my innocence to the pollinators who
court me again and again.
My winter dreams are
carried off
on their wings.

Growing

Through the heat
and glorious warmth,
my white petals flutter and fly
like tiny winged ones.
They leave behind anchored green nubs
that grow and expand
and slowly reach into the darkest of pink red fingered stems
that end in green that turns to purple blue.

An anxious hummingbird flits by each day
to check their progress.
The cicadas sing.
The sun is regal and relentless.

Flowing

My plump purple baby berries
are staining,
draining,
dripping
from the beaks of cedar waxwings,
finches and flickers.

I am giving and giving as mothers do
all my love and labour
in that purple berry blood.
I collapse again and again
into the fullness of giving.
Mothering in the mercy
and the mourning
of the holding and the nestling
and the nurturing
and the letting go.

Returning

The winds begin to fly again.
Autumn tangles my branches.
My leaves spiral and fly.

A flock of busy grackles
come to feed on the last of my berries.
They are all I have left.

And when they are gone
I am content to settle.
For once again,
the deep dark ground is calling to me
of endings
in beginnings
and beginnings
in endings.

 

The elder was deeply honoured by Celtic cultures and chosen by the Druids as the sacred tree to rule their thirteenth and final moon. Elder was used by extensively by village hedge-witches for all its parts are rich and potent–leaves, flowers, berries and bark.

The elder speaks to us of regeneration and the power of the life force. The elder mother, or Hylde-mođer as she was called in Old Saxon reminds us of the never-ending cycle of life, death and rebirth, bringing power and hope at as the wheel of the year turns.

Image: Arthur Rackham. Illustration for Little Elder Tree Mother by Hans Christian Anderson

2 thoughts on “Hylde-mođer (Elder Mother)

  1. I am so deeply moved by this work, by your poem. The Elder is a shrub with which I have a deep and abiding relationship. Your poem captures the essence of her cyclic dance with the life force with tenderness and beauty without becoming sweet or sappy. This is a great honouring. Thank you so much!

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