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.
Look at the delicate leaves, perfectly symmetrical on either side of their stem. They freshly unfurl every Spring in bright green and resemble feathers: it’s not surprising that before the written word, the ancient world believed that these beautiful feather-leaves were created from a bird of prey.
The myth tells that the goddess Hebe lost her chalice of youth and an eagle fought to recover the cup and return it to her. Wherever the bird shed a drop of blood or feather, up sprang a Rowan tree.
The Rowan’s bright berries were symbolically associated with these drops of blood. Red is believed to be the most protective colour and is linked to the forces of creation and life. The power of the sacred Rowan tree is further enhanced by the pentagram, an ancient protective symbol, embedded in the bottom of every Rowan berry.
Another legend tells us how the Rowan tree bent over a fast-flowing river and rescued Thor from being swept away into the Underworld. The wood is strong and resilient, and has, since ancient times, been used to make protective crosses tied with red thread. The Rowan tree’s timber has also been used for carving rune staves, walking sticks, and was especially treasured for its divining properties.
The delicate, creamy-white flowers are five petalled, blossoming every Spring and loved by our honey and bumble bees. Wild birds feast on the ripe berries in Autumn, and so can we – use them to make alcoholic concoctions or Rowan jelly, which is delicious with venison and other game.
The protective Rowan tree can be viewed here.