If there is a single archetypal tree—an image that pops up in one’s mind when one hears the word “tree”—it just might be the elm (Ulmus). An ancient, varied species that has flourished throughout Asia and Europe for millions of years, it’s almost certainly imprinted in our genetic memory as a longtime friend and adored arboreal earthling.
The Divine Feminine
The beloved Ainu goddess Kamui Fuchi, by some counts, was the daughter of an elm tree. In Norse mythology, the first woman, Embla, may have been fashioned out of elm wood. Kamui Fuchi is known as an emissary between the realm of humans and the realm of the Divine, and Embla was the genesis of human femininity as created directly by the god Odin. As such, the elm seems to embody not just the archetypal Divine Feminine, but also the borderland where the Divine Feminine meets humanity and human femininity is born from the Divine.
Spend time in quiet contemplation with an elm to connect with the Great Goddess and/or to awaken and embody the Goddess within.
As a Bach Flower Remedy, elm is useful for healing depression stemming from the feeling that there is too much to do and no possibility of doing it all. This is particularly true for those of us who feel called to work toward healing Mother Earth and her inhabitants. You might think of this as an aspect of the tree’s alignment with Saturn: the planet of limitation. The word limitation gets a bad rap, but in truth, boundaries are indispensable. For example, if we take it one day at a time and put one foot in front of the other, we can accomplish far more than if we set unmanageable goals and become paralyzed before we even begin. Besides, small accomplishments are often not as small as we may think: simply smiling at a stranger can set in motion a huge wave of positivity, the profound and long-term effects of which we may never comprehend, but which are real nonetheless.
If you can sense that this aspect of elm’s wisdom will support you in unsticking your emotions, lifting your mood, and fueling your motivation, visit an elm and sit in quiet contemplation. You might also (or instead) take the flower essence regularly for a month.
Not only was the Greek name for elm derived from the name of the tree nymph Ptelea, elm is also a tree that often appears side by side with nymphs in ancient literature. Legendary mountain nymphs planted elms on the graves of the deceased, and elms were reportedly neighbors of altars and sacred wells devoted to nymphs.
To connect with the beloved nature spirits known as the nymphs, create an altar to them in the shade of an elm tree, using mostly objects found in nature and maybe one or two other items such as a chalice, statue, or bowl.
In Homer's Iliad mountain nymphs plant elms at burial sites. This indicates the tree’s alignment with harmonious transitions, such as the transition from the world of the living to the otherworld and realm of light. From the physical perspective, elm wood is quite flexible, and elms can thrive in a wide range of soils.
As such, elm supports magical intentions related to gracefully traversing any type of transition, including birth, death, moving, changing jobs, and ending or beginning relationships. When you’re going through a period of rapid and immense change of various types, elm can help you come into the present moment and feel nourished and supported no matter what you’re experiencing in the external world. To receive this sort of support, spend time in quiet contemplation with an elm or take the flower essence.
Gender: Masculine and feminine