Elder is one of the most powerful trees in mythology. Judas is said to have hanged himself from an elder tree – the 14th century Anglo-Norman work “The Travels of Sir John Mandeville” speaks of the: “tree of eldre that judas henge himself upon, for despeyr that he hadde, when he solde and betrayed oure lord.”
As a consequence elder has traditionally become associated with ill-fortune and bad spirits – to cut down elder is to be plagued by the demons that live in the tree and many woodcutters would refuse to chop the tree. In many cultures to burn elder logs is to invite the devil into your home. Conversely to plant an elder next to a bakehouse will prevent the devil from being folded into the bread dough!