Celtic Tree Wisdom. The Rowan Tree: Luis
The Rowan tree represents birthdays from 21st January to February 17th.
It is the second consonant in the Ogham alphabet. represented by a vertical line with two lines horizontally lines coming out from the centre to the right. as shown in the picture below.
The Rowan tree has a long, sacred history. Since ancient times people have been planting a Rowan beside their home as in Celtic mythology it’s known as the Tree of Life and symbolises courage, wisdom and protection.
The Rowan tree belongs to the rose family. It is sometimes known as the mountain ash, though it is not related to the ash, and sometimes ‘The Lady of the Mountain’ due to its ability to thrive in inhospitable mountainous environments. In Irish mythology the first human women was created from the rowan tree. It is a tree said to belong to the fairy folk who can be seen dancing in circles surrounded by rowan trees when the moon is full.
Myth, Magic and Mystery
Rowans were often planted near gates and doorways to protect against evil spirits and misfortune. The twigs of the Rowan were placed in barns and above doorways for this same purpose, similar to the Cross of St Brigid, who is associated with the Rowan according to Celtic folklore. The Druids used incense from Rowan wood to conjure spirits. The Rowan was one of the most sacred trees to the Celtic Druids and to the Scots who regarded it as so sacred it was forbidden to use any part of it except in very special religious ceremonies.The Druids used rowan branches on funeral pyres as a symbol of death and rebirth and rowan trees planted in cemeteries are said to protect the dead from evil spirits. It was also one of the nine sacred trees to be burned in the Beltane fires to symbolise new beginnings.
Greek mythology tells of how Hebe, the goddess of youth, dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the gods from her magical chalice. When, through carelessness, she lost this cup to demons, the gods sent an eagle to recover the cup. A fight ensued and the eagle shed feathers and drops of blood. These fell to earth where each of them turned into a rowan tree. Hence the rowan derived the shape of its leaves from the eagle’s feathers and the appearance of its berries from the droplets of blood.
The rowan is also prominent in Norse mythology as the tree from which the first woman was made, (the first man being made from the ash tree). Legend has it that it saved the life of the god Thor by bending over a fast flowing river in the Underworld in which he was being swept away. Thor managed to grab the tree and get back to the shore.
In Scandinavia, rowans growing out of some inaccessible cleft in a rock, or crevices in tree possessed an even more powerful magic. Such trees were known as ‘flying rowan’. Rowan was furthermore the prescribed wood on which runes were inscribed for divination.
Rowan had many uses Rowan wood was often used to build cart wheels, boats and walking sticks, perhaps as a form of protection on a journey, and the bark of the rowan can be used as a powerful dye. The rowan’s wood is strong and resilient. It makes excellent walking sticks and is well-suited for carving. It was often used for tool handles, spindles and spinning wheels. Druids used the bark and berries to dye the garments worn during lunar ceremonies, black. The bark was also used in the tanning process, and people used rowan twigs for divining, particularly for metals.
The Rowan tree has many medicinal qualities.
The berries are high in Vitamin C and contain acids and sugars. The berries have been used to make tonics as the ripe berries are mildly purgative and diuretic.
Rowan berries are quite bitter but not poisonous. When mixed with sugar they make nice jellies, jams juices and wines. The berries can be made into or added to a variety of alcoholic drinks. Different Celtic peoples each seem to have had their favourites. As well as the popular wine still made in the Highlands, the Scots made a strong spirit from the berries. The Welsh brewed an ale and the Irish used them to flavour mead.
Eaten raw the seeds of the rowan berry can cause stomach upsets but they can be turned into remedies for cleansing the kidneys and the blood, balancing the digestive system, strengthening the immune system and helping with a sore throat or bronchitis.