By Isabella @TheWandCarver
It is believed the origination of the Rowan tree began in China. How many thousands of years ago is anybody’s guess, but as it happens, almost everywhere now across Europe, the UK, and in North America, you can find a variation of the Rowan tree or as some call it “mountain ash” although an Ash tree is exactly that and it’s not a Rowan tree. They all seem to appear quite alike but have different genus names, as it would happen. But I’m not here to give you a lot of scientific gardening information on the Rowan tree. I’m more interested in its magickal side and its folklore, as I am sure you are.
The Rowan tree is one of the most sacred in Scotland and the tradition does not allow cutting the tree or use of its timber for anything other than sacred purposes. The Druids were known to use Rowan in funeral pyres and the Seers used the wood in most likely a form of incense for divination and invocation of spirits. My Scottish grandfather would form little bundles of Rowan twigs for protection charms to be carried by his children or anyone who felt the need for a bit of extra help. His wife, my Nana, would often make little crosses from the twigs, but then, if you’ve read many of my tree blogs, you would know she made little protection crosses from about any kind of wood. Particularly Oak, Hawthorn, Holly, and Rowan as those were in the readiest supply. It was always interesting to see what new protection amulets were hanging about when I visited and to learn why they happened to be hanging where they were.
The Rowan crosses were hung to prevent enchantment of the occupants of their homes and barns. The Rowan twig bundles were carried in a pocket away from home to prevent enchantment or a spell being cast upon the carrier by an evil cunning sorcerer. Also, just like Hazel is used for divining water, Rowan is said to be useful in divining for precious metals. Rowan can be used to increase one’s psychic powers (my mother felt my Nana was very psychic as she swore she would know every move she made when away from home!), and to enhance powers of healing and success.
Rowan is sacred to the Celtic Goddess Brighid who was “changed” to Saint Brighid (with the advent of Christianity/Catholicism), patroness of the arts, healing, smithing, spinning and weaving. Spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of Rowan in Scotland and Ireland.
Planet: The Sun, Mercury
Symbolism: Protection and Inspiration
Birds: Duck, Quail
Deity: Brigantia (English Goddess), Brighid, Virgin Mary, Thor
Sabbat: Imbolc, Candlemas
Folk Names: Delight of the Eye, Mountain Ash, Quickbane, Ran Tree, Roden-Quicken, Roden-Quicken-Royan, Roynetree, Sorb Apple, Thor’s Helper, Whitty, Wicken-Tree, Wiggin, Wiggy, Wiky, Wild Ash, Witchbane, Witchen, Witchwood
Rowan is the second consonant of the Ogham alphabet – Luis and the second month of the Celtic Tree calendar, 21st January – 17th February
With flu season around the corner, here may be a useful titbit I found recently:
Use a handful of dried Rowan berries for Rowan berry tea.
Place them in the centre of a small square of white or purple cloth. Gather the cloth over the berries and tie it into a bundle with white or purple ribbon. Hang this in your kitchen during flu season or keep it for the entire winter.
Whispers from the Woods, by Sandra Kynes
Many thanks for reading and warmest blessings!