Names: Delight of the Eyes, Lady of the Mountain., Li Sula, Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, Quicken,, Raintree, Rantry, Roddan, Royentree, Service Tree, Sorb Apple, Thor’s Helper, Wand wood, Whispering Tree, Whitty, Wicken Tree, Wild Ash, Wiggin, Wiky, Witchbane, Witchen and Witchwood.
Time: January 21-February 17
Stones: cat’s Eye, green beryl, peridot, ruby, tourmaline, yellow crysolite, yellow topaz,
Gods: Balor, Boann, Brighid, Brigantia, Cerridwem Cerunnos, Daghda, Lugh, Raunn,ThorThe Virgin Mary
Animals: Birds, especially song birds, blackbirds, cranes, dragons
Flower: The Snowdrop,
The second tree featured in the Celtic Tree calendar is the Rowan tree or what is commonly known as Mountain Ash or Wild Ash. The Mountain Ash is not a true Ash tree or a member of the Ash family but gains its name from the fact that it has similar looking leaves. The Rowan is in the Genus Sorbus, and in the family of Rosaceae. It is relative to Rose, Hawthorne, Apple, Pear and Service Tree.
The Rowan has compound leaves, with up to 15 leaflets forming around a central stem. Usually the Rowan leaves are odd numbered and arranged in alternate pairs, with a single leaf at the tip. Rowan flowers in late Spring usually around April-June depending on the mildness of weather and climate. Its blossoms are creamy white and star shaped, with five petals. Some say that they omit a slightly unpleasant aroma; while some say it is simply a strong, sweet scent. They pollinate through flies, bees, beetles and other insects as well as wind.
Rowan’s flowers turn into orange or scarlet clumps of small fruits or berries, each berry has at its end a remnant of its previous flower, a pentacle or five pointed star shape. This pentacle gives the plant its widespread association with protection and its connection with both Witches, protection against Witches, and the evil eye and magick itself. The fruits appear around early July through September and are usually ripe in October, though ripeness depends on the weather and climate. The berries cling to the branches throughout the Winter until weather, birds and other creatures come to devour them. There is usually 4-5 seeds in each berry. The Rowan’s bark is shiny gray and smooth, with tiny pin-prick pores all over it. Rowan’s leaves turn golden, pink or scarlet in Autumn. Rowan can grow as tall as 65 feet but most America varieties are much smaller growing only to around 30 feet and are rather shrub like. Rowan’s can live up to 200 years.
Rowan is a hardy deciduous tree that can thrive in even in the hardest of conditions. It is usually found at the highest of elevations, clinging precariously between crevices of rock, and mountain sides, o r alone on the out skirts of the forests. Rowan’s that stand alone and open in a field are associated with the faeries and Otherworld. Rowan prefers full sun, but can tolerate light shade. It is very hardy against the intense cold, and wind and can thrive in poor soil. Rowan tolerates drought and air pollution. Rowan needs good drainage to survive and thrive and usually avoids clay or chalk soils. It prefers acidic soils and peat. Rowan colonizes easily in disturbed areas. Rowans are solitary, individualist trees, they usually do not grow in groves but alone. Sometimes they are found among Oaks, Birch and Pine, They are actually used as a nurse crop for oaks and other trees. They protect the smaller, slower growing trees when they are young and just getting established, but they are small enough not to overshadow them. Once the nurse crop gets big enough it usually crowds out the Rowans and the Rowan’s die back, making room for their nurse crop.
Rowans propagate fairly easily through seeds spread by the droppings of birds. Sometimes Rowan trees even sprout in the crevices of roots and bark of other trees. When this happens they are known as, “Flying Rowans,” these plants are considered especially powerful and are considered a gateway into the Otherworld. “Flying Rowans,” can also be Rowan’s that sprout in the crevices of boulders, or one whose roots spread over a boulder, giving it a very spooky, old, and magickal look.
Rowan is a very widespread tree thriving in the cooler climates of North America, Northern Europe, and the mountains of Southern Europe, Scandinavia and Southwest Asia. The many different varieties of Rowan lead this tree to have many names, and many different cultivars and variations. They have differences in the size of leaf, flower and berry, and have differences in berry color anything from red, orange, yellow to white. Many, especially those of the Asian varieties are cultivated strictly for their beauty and for the birds they attract. Rowan and its family members make great ornamental trees; they work very well in a landscape and produce year round interest. With their clumps of flowers in Spring, bright green foliage in Summer, berries and golden to scarlet foliage in Autumn, and gray bark and bright red berries in Winter.
The scientific name is “sorbus aucuparia,” This is the species most well known throughout Europe. Sorbus is the ancient Latin name for “service tree,” and “accuparia” is from “avis,” or “bird,” and “capere,” “to catch,” Many birds, especially song birds enjoy the berries of Rowan. Bird catchers would tie Rowan berries to their nets to lure and capture these birds. Rowan’s ability to attract birds especially songbirds may have been the root of why Rowan is associated with song, poetry and the Goddess Brighid. Many birds are frequently seen feasting on the berries these birds include, blackbirds, finches, mistle-thrush, cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, grouse and starlings to name a few.
Raccoons, and bears and other climbing animals go out of their way to reach these berries. Others still, deer and hares consume their leaves. Though not particularly attractive to most insects there are those mostly the larvae of several leaf mining moths that feed on their leaves and larvae of the apple fruit moth are frequently found in its berries. Certain beetles are known to feed on its flowers and snails also enjoy feasting on the leaves of this tree.
The variety most well known in the United states is, “sorbus americana,” which is most commonly called: Mountain Ash or Wild Ash and which is known in Canada as “Dogberry tree.”
The word Rowan is said to come from many root words, one being the Sanskrit word “runa,” meaning “magician,” the other is the Norse word “ruma,” which means “charm,” or “spell,” and has the same root as the word rune. Rowan is also said to come from the Gaelic word “raudnian,” meaning the “the red one,” or “getting red,” probably alluding to its bright red berries.
“Luis,” pronounced “loo-ish,” “l’wesh, or “leash,” and is associated with the letter L and is the Ogham letter associated with the Rowan tree. The word Luis has many origins and may come from the word “Luisr,” meaning, “herb and flame.” Luis also is said to mean “swarm,” or a “great many,” this may be because of its dense clumps of flowers and berries or because hunters and warriors would gather beneath this tree before battle.
Rowan is called Thor’s Helper because it is said to have saved Thor’s from drowning, when it reached its branches to catch him as he was swept by a fast moving river. In Scandinavian myth the first women was created from the Rowan tree, while the first man was created from the Ash tree.
In Greek mythology Rowan was said to have sprouted from the blood of a sacred eagle sent by Zeus to recover the cup of the Gods. The Goddess Hebe in a moment of carelessness lost her magick chalice which was quickly picked up by demons. This cup provided the Gods with the rejuvenating ambrosia. The Gods decided to send an eagle to recover the cup. In the battle to recover the cup the eagle was wounded and his blood spilled upon the land From that blood grew the Rowan tree, with its blood red berries and some of its feathers fell to Earth as well and became the Rowan’s leaves.
In Finnish mythology Rowan plays an important role in their creation myth. The Earth was barren and devoid of any plant life when the Goddess Rauni came down in the form of a Rowan tree and after Rauni coupled with the God Ukko, the God of thunder, he struck the mighty Rowan tree with a magickal bolt of lightning, thus giving birth to all the plant life on Earth.
Rowan’s energy is both feminine and solar. Rowan is called Quicken , or Quickbeam, meaning “life giving,” sometimes Rowan is also known as the “tree of life.” The quickening is a time of women’s pregnancy when the child growing within her becomes more obvious and prominent. The mother can feel every flutter and kick, every light, slight, barely disguisable movement of life growing and becoming. The festival of Imbolc falls under the rule of the Rowan moon, and some translations of the word Imbolc says that it means “in the belly,” and right now all are in the belly of the Earth Mother, as she is preparing for the bursting forth and birth of Spring.
Though the world is still steeped in Winter’s slumber, covered in snow, and frozen solid, you can divine, and begin to see the first stirrings of Spring. The sap is slowly returning to the trees, and small buds that will contain Spring’s new leaves are forming. Some stubborn seeds have already begun sprouting and the fragile leaves of perennial herbs are breaking the frozen ground. The sword like leaves of bulbs is bursting forth. Flocks of birds are beginning to return to their Spring homes and small starlings and sparrows are out in swarms searching for food.
All of life is in a transition, antsy, filled up with pent up energy, full of hopes and dreams and plans. All are preparing for Spring. All are inhaling Spring’s fresh, new energy, and basking in the clear days and increased sunlight and exhaling Winter’s frosty breath and still freezing temperatures. All of life is waking up from Winter’s hibernation, Winter’s steady slumber, and the deep felt desire for contemplation and isolation; it is now that we seek out human connection, that we begin braving whatever weather may come just to be around others. It is no coincidence that Valentine’s day falls within this time. And though it may seem slight and slow, too slow from those who have finally begun waking it is steady and signs can be seen everywhere. Winter’s worse is behind us and Spring is rapidly on its way.
One myth of the Rowan tree is that it was brought to Earth by the Tuatha De Danaan and that it is especially revered and guarded by the Gods. Rowan is a sacred tree of the Druids and a sacred tree of the Goddess Brighid. Its white blossoms that turn into lush blood red berries can be viewed as the Maiden Goddess coming into maturity or the white Winter crone Calleach Bheur’s half of the year ending and the time of the fiery Maiden goddess Brighid beginning. You can also see the Rowan as a representation of all three stages of the Goddess, the Maiden with her white flowers, the Mother with her blood red berries, the Crone with its gray barren bark. Use Rowan to connect with the energy of the Goddess, especially the active, fiery, Goddess energy, of the heart from which all life comes from.
Use this month to connect with the Goddess Brighid to work on artistic endeavors, write poetry, paint a painting, sing a song, compose a piece of music, decorate, and craft . Use Rowan when you are struck to inspire, and enhance your creativity. You can also begin to more actively reach towards your goals. Also, use this time, to wake up, to revive, to prepare, clean, and purify. Let go of the old and invigorate yourself, let the light of Brighid into your soul. This is a good time for study, and is a good time to begin a new path or to perform a self initiation, or to join, or create a new group or working.
Some see this tree as not particularly feminine but as a more masculine tree, because it is so solar and its energy so active. Many gods are associated with this tree, the Dagda, Lugh and Thor are among these deities, and one may wish to work with these deities as well.
Rowan has a strong association with eyes. In some versions of the Death of Balor, Rowan was the wood Lugh choose to use to pierce and destroy Balor’s deadly eyes. Rowan is both used as a both as a remedy for tired over worked eyes, and a relief for more serious eye conditions like glaucoma and for opening of the inner third eye of intuition. Rowan is known as the “Whispering tree,” ready to share its knowledge to the world if would only listen. Rowan is a good tree to use for all types of divination. Ogham sticks as well, as Norse runic symbols are often carved from this wood. Rowan is carried to aid in increasing one’s psychic abilities. Burning Rowan is said to enhance ones ability to divine and is said to produce ecstatic trance. Rowan is said to guard the gates of the Otherworld and is said to have a strong connection to the ancestors. Rowan is planted in church yards and graveyards for protection for the spirits who resided their and for protection against wandering and restless spirits, witches, the evil eye and even Satan himself. Rowan has also been used as a dowsing rod, but instead of finding water it was used to find precious metals.
Rowan strengthens your intuition and helps you see through the false glamour of those who would wish to manipulate or mislead you. It helps you see through the games of others, giving you true insight into people and allowing you to both remove the rose colored glasses of self deception and protects you from the nagging self doubt, worry and other obsessive thoughts that may be holding you back. Rowan also helps you resist temptations and helps you get away from anything that is distracting you or holding you back. Rowan is a good wood for use in the recovery of drug and alcohol abuse, or for those recovering from addictive and abusive relationships.
Rowan’s offers us both the loving, protective embrace of the Mother’s arms and the ferocity and length she would go to protect you. Rowan also offers the protection of the sovereign and solider, whose long bows are arched and ready to fire in defense of you. Rowan’s wood has been used as a substitute for the Yew in the longbow. The goddesses Brighid and Brigitania were said to have flaming arrows made of Rowan wood, and some translations of the name Brighid says her name means, “Bright arrow.” Rowan has been used as a meeting place for hunter’s and warriors, Druids were said to burn Rowan wood to ensure a good outcome in the next battle and
Rowan has been long associated with protection, the protection of the home and hearth, protection from the evil eye, and others influences as well as protection from lightning, storms, fire, drowning and ill health. Baby cradles and cribs were often made of Rowan believing it would protect the infant from harm and from being stolen away by the fey. Ship’s ores or the whole ship itself where created of Rowan, this would insure that the ship and crew would come to no harm, would be safe in storms and that they would sail steady course and not get lost. This tradition can be carried out in modern rituals by placing a sprig, charm or piece or Rowan in your vehicle, possibly right next to your GPS. Rowan’s appearance on ships also suggests a connection to not just ships but to the captains, to those in charge. Rowan has long been a symbol of authority, Romans used to carry Rowan as a symbol of power and statehood. Planting Rowan anywhere on your property was said to protect it and those who inhabit it. Rowan is also the protective mother of dairy cows and livestock. Many charms were made from its berries and wood and hung on barns for protection. Smaller livestock animals like sheep were driven though large hoops of Rowan for protection. You can continue this tradition in modern times by hanging Rowan charms over your pet’s house, or by attaching a small Rowan charm to their collar. You can make wreathes, ornaments and arrangements of Rowan and hang them among your house, you can create the old charm of an equal armed cross made of Rowan tied together with red string. You can even use a God’s eye pattern when weaving to create a beautiful protective charm. Or make a charm that is closer in appearance to a Brighid’s Cross. You can carry a piece of its wood, or berries as a talisman and make necklaces with its berries. Rowan wood carved into the shape of a hammer is also considered a very powerful protective charm.
Rowan is used to strengthen spells and to strengthen and empower the spirit. Rowan grows where and in conditions that many other trees could not. It doesn’t give up but holds on and thrives. Use the magick of this plant to help you get through a difficult time, when you are facing adversity, major shifts, and conflicts. Use Rowan to find courage to face any and all that many stand it your way.
Rowan has many uses both magickal and mundane. Its wood is strong and flexible making it good wood for walking sticks, magickal staves, magickal wands, tool handles, and hoops for barrels. It was used for tanning and dying, its berries and bark are said to have dyed Druids robe a grayish black, which they used for lunar festivals. The wood is also one of the 9 sacred woods of the Beltane fire.
Its berries and bark is used in medicine, brewing and as a food. The berries must be cooked, fermented, dried or frozen to break down and eliminate the harmful chemical sorbic acid that is known to cause stomach upset and kidney problems as well as the possible carcinogen and harmful chemical parasorbic acid. Rowan berries are bitter and astringent and not palatable at all when eaten raw, it is advisable that you harvest them later in Winter for improved flavor and then cook, dry, freeze, or ferment them.
Rowan’s berries are cooked and made into a slightly tart jelly that goes well with game. This jelly was given to those suffering from diarrhea and as a cure and a preventative for gout. . The berries are also brewed into, wine, ale, cider or mead, and in the past its berries were ground into flour and its seeds roasted and used as a substitute for coffee beans.
Rowan berries are very high in vitamin C and are a good source of vitamin A and are used as a cure for scurvy. They are used to help fight colds and flues and as a general herb to strengthen the immune system and an aid in recovery. Rowan berry juice are used to help sooth inflamed mucus membranes and muscle tissues and as a mild laxative, and helps ease sore throats. Rowan berries are used as a tea or a gargle to help sooth a sore throat, tonsils and hoarseness as well as help you fight a fever and as an expectorate helping expel mucus and phlegm from the lungs. Rowan berry tea is also used as a diuretic and helps treated urinary tract problems . The bark is used as a blood cleaner and helped ease the pain and swelling of hemorrhoids as well as irritable bowels, and is sometimes used as a douche. It is also used to treat diarrhea, nausea and stomach problems. Rowan is used to help ease the swelling and eye pressure of glaucoma and for tired and irritated eyes. Rowan is haemostatic which means it helps stop or retard bleeding, it is also a vaso-dilator meaning it helps circulation and helps lower blood pressure. Rowan is also used to help relieve spastic pains of the uterus.
Rowan is a very healing plant, healing both physical and emotional wounds. It can be used to help recover from a troubled past. Include it in healing bathes, incense and herbal sachets.
Celtic Astrology Phyllis Vega
Celtic Tree Mysteries Steve Blamires
The Charmed Garden Diane Morgan
The Druid Magic Handbook John Michael Greer
Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs Scott Cunnigham
Encyclopedia of Magickal Ingredients Lexa Rosean
Flower and Tree Magic Richard Webster
From the Branch, the Ogham for Spiritual Growth Deanne Quarrie
The Greenman Tree Oracle John Matthews and Will Worthington
The Healing Power of Trees Hariyn Hidalgo
The Herb Book John Lust
The Herbal Arts Patricia Telesco
Lives of Trees Diana Wells
The Master Book of Herbalsim Paul Beyerl
A Modern Herbal Mrs. M. Grieve
The Modern Day Druidess Cassandra Eason
The Ogham and the Universal Truth of Trees Suzanne La Cour, Dean Montalbano
Whispers from the Woods Sandra Kynes
A Year of Moons, Season of Trees Pattalee Glass-Koentop