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see honeysucklehoneysuckle,
common name for some members of the Caprifoliaceae, a family comprised mostly of vines and shrubs of the Northern Hemisphere, especially abundant in E Asia and E North America.
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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In Wicca traditions that utilize the degree system of advancement, an Elder is a Third Degree Witch who is consulted on matters of importance to the coven, such as policy and interpretation of Craft law. In other traditions, it is any Witch who has been in the coven for a number of years and is respected and looked to for such advice. There is often a number of elders in a coven that has been in existence for a number of years.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Sambucus), a genus of plants of the honeysuckle family. They are shrubs or small trees; more rarely, perennial grasses. There are about 40 species in the temperate and subtropical regions of both hemispheres.

There are 11 species in the USSR, three of which are widely distributed. The black elder (S. nigra) is a tall shrub or small tree with creamy white tiny flowers in flat umbelliferous panicles and violet black fruits (berry-like stones). They are found in the underbrush of the European part of the USSR (including the Crimea) and in the Caucasus. The flowers and fruits of the black elder are good for coloring wines and for giving them a muscat taste. They are raised as decorative plants.

Cystiform, red or common elder (S. racemosa) is a strongly branched shrub or small tree. Its whitish or greenish yellow flowers are arranged in flat oval or conic inflorescences. The fruit is bright red. Wild red elders are found in the underbrush of coniferous and mixed forests in the western Ukraine; red elder that has gone wild is found in the Baltic region and in certain oblasts of the central belt of the European part of the USSR, as well as in Ciscaucasia. These elder are raised as decorative plants. Grass elder (S. ebulus) is a perennial grassy plant, 0.5 to 1.5 cm tall, with an unpleasant smell. In the belt of broad-leaf forests, in the forest-steppe, and in the mountains, the grass is found to the central belt. It is also found everywhere in the Ukraine and in certain oblasts of the central belt of Russia, as well as in the Caucasus. In Central Asia it is found in the mountains of Kopetdag. Infusions of black elder and grass elder are used as sudorifics, diuretics, and astringents. They can also be used as a gargle and poultice.


Atlas lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. (in piquet and similar card games) denoting or relating to the nondealer (the elder hand), who has certain advantages in the play
2. Anthropol a senior member of a tribe who has influence or authority
3. (in certain Protestant Churches) a lay office having teaching, pastoral, or administrative functions
4. another word for presbyter


1. any of various caprifoliaceous shrubs or small trees of the genus Sambucus, having clusters of small white flowers and red, purple, or black berry-like fruits
2. any of various unrelated plants, such as box elder and marsh elder


Mark Philip. born 1947, British conductor; musical director of the English National Opera (1979--93) and of the Hall? Orchestra from 2000
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
(67) Even clerical defenders of ruling eldership admitted this connection; in response to the argument that to include ruling elders with preaching elders logically meant that both types of elder should be paid, John Cotton in 1645 replied from Massachusetts that even though congregationalists did not regard ruling elders as laymen, the Church of England had traditionally paid lay chancellors and commissaries, and that it would not necessarily be wrong for churches to pay ruling elders also.
Given this greater sense of separation between layman and cleric than that shown in Scotland or New England, a major reason behind the lack of candidates for ruling eldership in Civil War and Interregnum England could well have been a sense of personal unfitness on the part of prospective volunteers.
(108) In 1618 the provost of Edinburgh was told by a socially inferior deacon in kirk session, "Sir, ye are but a Sessioner here," but after that occasion procedural methods were used to ensure that henceforth the eldership would be dominated by the Edinburgh social and political elite.
When on April 24 the Commons considered whether "the matter of scandal in such as were to be admitted to the Sacrament should be examined by the Minister and Eldership of every parish or by some justice of the Peace or other Lay Magistrate," arguments for the latter included not only assertions that ministers should concentrate on study and preaching and not intermeddle in matters of civil jurisdiction, but also, first, that the party accused would not have the chance to call witnesses; second, that if the eldership examined a man under oath for a crime and the civil magistrate examined him under oath for the same crime, a man would be punished twice for the same offence; and, third, that there could be a "clashing between two jurisdictions." (113)
In the debate of April 24 one objection was that the "Justice of peace is a sworne officer the other are not." Another was that whereas the choice of a parish's ruling elders must of necessity be limited to members of that parish, JPs were "men elected and chosen for their worth and ability." The House postponed the issue that day by voting that the eldership could suspend any such persons as had already been "Lawfully Convicted of any such matters of scandall as had been voted in the house." (114) On May 1 the Commons voted that all capital crimes should first be examined by the civil magistrate, and that only after the magistrate had certified this to the eldership could the latter suspend him from the Lord's Supper.
These concerns for due process had been largely solved in Scotland and New England by more effective cooperation between civil magistrate and church eldership. Orthodox theory in all three places held that the church was not to wield coercive power or inflict physical punishments, those functions being left to the civil magistrate, and that clerics should not occupy temporal office.
(123) It was expected that these magistrate-elders would inflict secular punishments upon those whom the eldership had censured, and town council and kirk session could sit together to try serious crimes.