A tree said to have saved the life of the god Thor by bending over a fast flowing river in the Underworld in which Thor was being swept away, and helping him back to the shore; Rowan.
The final part of my working day after a full diary of animal healing clients, today saw me walking through an old churchyard after visiting my final client of the day. Dusk was falling and something was leading me in to spend a few moments of solitude with the unseen. It was the very churchyard that I picked up a piece of fallen rowan in 2014 to make a crook wand with, I’ve attached a photograph. It’s been used on many a ceremony within my Druid grove as the rowan has many associations with Druids and our tradition.
In the British Isles the rowan has a long history in folklore as a tree which protects against witchcraft and enchantment, but I think this came about from the mouths representing the Christian church. However, the physical characteristics of the tree may have contributed to its protective reputation, including the tiny five pointed star or pentagram on each berry opposite its stalk (the pentagram being an ancient protective symbol). It’s actually called ‘The Witch Tree’ or ‘the Wicken Tree’.
Rowan is one of the trees associated with Saint Brighid, the Celtic patroness of the arts, healing, smithing, spinning and weaving. Rowan twigs were placed above doorways and barns to protect the inhabitants against misfortune and evil spirits.
It is one of the trees sacred to Druids and used for protection against sorcery and evil spirits. The ancients Druids burnt Rowan on funeral pyres, for it also symbolized death and rebirth. Today in our Druid grove, the members who are ‘seers’ ignite Rowan during our rites of divination and to invoke spirits, we also use Rowan wood in our purification rites and as an animal healer I’ve actually used rowan to protect cows and their offspring. A few members of my grove have used the bark and berries to dye their garments worn during our lunar ceremonies.
Rowan has had a wide range of popular folk names, the most well-know being mountain ash. Its old Gaelic name from the ancient Ogham script was Luis.
The rowan’s wood is strong and resilient, making excellent walking sticks, and is suitable for carving. It was often used for tool handles, and spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of rowan wood.
I may not have seen Thor this evening, but I found peace after a very busy week treating many beautiful animals. I have a very busy weekend ahead as I’m working again!