Today marks the start of the Celtic month of the Rowan Tree, the tree most associated with protection, intuition and psychic powers.
I have a soft spot for Rowans. I’ve often come across them growing in some remote place, far from other trees, blown by the winds and yet still strong and graceful. There is something peculiarly magical about them; the smoothness of the bark, the delicateness of the leaves, the rich froth of their blossoms in May and the startling colour of their summer berries.
Even in the deeps of winter, Rowan trees bring magic. When covered in frost their bark reflects both Moon and stars so that they looked “star-dressed”. They bring a touch of fairie to our world. Try sitting underneath one and see what happens!
According to Greek myth the rowan was created because of the actions of Hebe, cup-bearer to the gods, from whom the demons stole the cup. The gods sent an eagle to retrieve the cup and in the following battle, wherever a feather or a drop of blood fell a Rowan Tree sprang up, which is why the tree has feathery leaves and blood-red berries to this day.
The Rowan Tree was sacred to the druids, perhaps because of the contrast of its white flowers and red berries (red and white being symbols of sacredness throughout the ages) but also because of its associations as a visionary aid, one of its names being “Delight of the Eye” which refers as much to the Third Eye as it does to the way to the tree actually appears.
Other names for the Rowan include quickbeam, quicken, witch-tree, witchwood and sorb apple – all of which contain references to the Rowan’s legendary ability to enhance psychic powers, prophecy and magic. It is the female equivalent of the Ash Tree (another name for it is Mountain Ash). In Scandinavian myth the first woman was born from a Rowan, the first man from an Ash.
Druids often planted Rowan Trees in their places of worship. You’ll sometimes find them still growing close to stone circles or where ley lines cross. It was once believed that the powers of the Rowan were essential to maintaining the health of the land. Perhaps they still are? They are certainly worth looking after, as are all trees.
The Celtic Festival of Imbolc falls within the Rowan Tree Month. Imbolc is the festival associated with the Goddess Brigid, daughter of Dagda, one of the Tuatha de Danaan, who brought four magical treasures to Ireland. The Rowan’s connection with Brigid links it with the fires of inspiration and with the rebirth of the Spirit, which comes at Imbolc. Brigid is said to have had arrows made of rowan-wood which would burst into flames when she fired them.
This is most probably a reference to the psychic qualities said to be gained by imbibing the juice of rowan berries (be careful though, they are poisonous to children). Groves of Rowans were grown and tended as shrines of oracular practices…in other words they were places were people went if they wished to see more clearly into the future.
This year the Rowan Tree Month is especially important, because not only does the celebration of Imbolc fall within it, but the Chinese Year of the Dragon also starts during the same month (tomorrow in fact!). There is a long association between Rowan Trees and dragons, each of them being symbols of protection. Irish myths and legends are filled with stories of dragons guarding Rowans.
My guess is that this was a two-way street, the dragon guarding the tree, which in turn protected the lines of energy beneath the surface of the earth (the dragon-lines as they were once known).
Given that we only have a Year of the Dragon once every dozen years, this year may be a time for particular focus on developing your psychic abilities and listening to your intuitions. Let’s hope that it is also one of increased attention to the wellbeing of the earth itself!
Wishing you a month filled with Rowan Tree Magic…
With best wishes,
PS – If you have enjoyed this post you might like to check out my mystery-adventure story, which has a 5-Star Amazon rating and includes a lot of Tree Lore. You can see more about it at the top of this blog, or when you click on any of these links. Thank you!