Within witchcraft we work with the spirits and bodies of plants, including trees. In druidry the trees are often encountered through the Ogham, an old Irish-Celtic alphabet and mnemonic system, of which we have mainly tree-associations left recorded. The Rowan is considered to be the second tree of the Ogham, a tree that stands guard over the edges and gateways between the worlds and offers its protection to the home through the stars on its bright red berries... Here I share some treelore and writing around the Rowan, to inspire you in your own magical workings. If you don't know where to begin, start with the Grimoire Page on working with tree magic, here, or our self study Foundations of Witchcraft course.
Have you ever seen...
you must have!
That flash of flame
at water's edge.
burning delicate frame.
There was no hiding
from the heat
which so swiftly came.
And through the walls
between the worlds,
I heard my name...
Perched on the edge, their stick slender and strong beneath their hand, black cloak tattered along the edges by the winds, flame-haired Quickbeam watched over the traveller approaching the gate below.
"Why?" They called out. The traveller looked up, startled.
"Why what?" He replied.
"Why are you travelling?" Quickbeam clarified.
Quickbeam always asked, before unlocking that gate between the mountains. Only one reason sufficed, from any traveller, one and only one was acceptable; that they had a purpose. It didn't matter which, as long as there was something.
And there always was.
To find healing, knowledge, adventure. To escape hardship, or success. To discover one's self. To simply move and breathe and be. There was always a reason. And better, knew Quickbeam, if it were a guiding spark that offered hope when the going got tough.
"I... I don't know." Replied the traveller.
Quickbeam grinned, beckoning him to sit upon the ledge beside them awhile, berry-tinted mead at the ready.
"Then you'd better stay with me until you do."
Latin Name: Sorbus aucuparia
Other Names: Mountain Ash, Quickbeam.
Edible: Berries contain vitamin C (dried or cooked, do not eat fresh berries.) Loved by birds.
Herbal Properties: Astringent, Antirheumatic, Diuretic, Laxative, Antiscorbutic, Emmenagogue, Aperitive, Hypoglycemic. Used to treat for candidiasis, kidney disease, sore throat, period pains, diarrhea and hemorrhoids. Also reducing inflammation, especially of respiratory system, and increasing metabolism.
Contraindications: Avoid during pregnancy. Excessive use may cause vomiting, do not eat fresh berries. (Ask a professional before use... I am not a doctor!)
Magical Properties: Strongly protective, especially of the home. Rowan and red thread together are a traditional protective charm against magic and bad luck. Psychic power, divination and healing, an all-round magical booster. Creativity, success and transformation through its association with fire. Opens the gateway to otherworlds. The second tree in the ogham tree alphabet.
Historical Notes: Often taboos against using the wood, or cutting it with a knife. Twigs were bound into an equal armed cross for protection woven with thread (Brigid's Crosses), or used to divine for metals. Rowan berry jelly is traditionally eaten with game meats in Scotland, and the berries are used in various alcoholic drinks.
Practical Properties: Red berries have a pentagram on the base. The wood is resilient and its strength lends it to making good walking sticks. As the trees are small it is used accordingly, for handles, spindles and spinning wheels, traditionally. The bark and berries can make a black dye.
Clues for Identification: Clusters of small white flowers in spring, bright red berries in autumn. Leaflets in sets with pairs opposite each other and one at the tip (similar to ash). Small tree, can grow in silly places like cliff ledges.
Magical Activities; Visit a rowan when you're considering a journey and listen to their advice on travelling safely, or on being inspired to creativity. Gather the berries in the autumn and string them on red thread, hang them above your door or window to protect your home from negativity. Tie two rowan twigs in an equal armed cross as a protection charm. If they appear in a divination ask yourself what gateways are opening for you, and what challenge there might be before you can pass through.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ (Please consult a qualified herbalist if using medicinally, this information is shared for inspirational purposes only! Some further medicinal information can be found here: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-352/birch ) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This Grimoire Page was sponsored by my lovely Patreon patrons. If you'd like to get these pages early, plus bonus meditations, sneak peaks behind the scenes, and access to courses included in your sponsorship (depending on your tier) please sign up here.