In the Tyrol belief had it that the Alder tree was often used by sorcerers. One particular legend tells of how a small boy who climbed up a large tree, He looked down and saw a number of sorcerers at the foot of the tree. Whilst watching they cut up a dead woman’s body and proceeded to throw the pieces high into the air, so high in fact that the boy caught one of the pieces. The pieces fell back down and the sorcerers began to count them but one was missing. Realising this they replaced the piece with wood from the Alder tree, and the woman came back to life. Ever since the tree has been associated with the dead, and their resurrection back to life.
R. Rapin’s poem tells of the origin of the Alder (and Willow);
‘De Hortorum Cultura’
‘Of watery race Alders and Willows spread
O’er silver brooks their melancholy shade,
Which heretofore (thus tales have been believed)
Were two poor men, who by their fishing lived;
Till on a day when Pales’ feast was held,
And all the town with pious mirth was filled,
This impious pair alone her rites despised,
Pursued their care, till she their crime chastised:
While from the banks they gazed upon the flood,
The angry goddess fixed them where they stood,
Transformed to sets, and just examples made
To such as slight devotion for their trade.
At length, well watered by the bounteous stream
They gained a root, and spreading trees became;
Yet pale their leaves, as conscious how they fell,
Which croaking frogs with vile reproaches tell.’
Diviners in search of water hidden underground are known to often use forked branches taken from the Alder tree traditionally called ‘Wishing Rods’ (also Apple, Hazel and Beech). (See Mystical WWW Trees & Divining Methodology).