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The Rowan Tree by Sue Perryman

Pyrus aucuparia/domestica/tourmalinisOther names: Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, Tree of life, Lady of the mountains, Wicken tree Planetary ruler: SunElement: FireGender: FeminineDeities: Brighid Magical properties: Psychic powers, Healing, Power, Success, Protection, Divination, Faeries, luck

Rowan is a beautiful tree and is a species of the rose family. It grows to between 10-20 meters tall and is native to the Northern Hemisphere it has Ash-like leaves and in May-June is covered with masses of creamy-white scented flowers with 5 petals and in August with stunning clusters of bright orange/red berries with a pentagram at their base. It is grown as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens, but in the wild it will grow almost anywhere.

The berries are a favourite food of birds, but shouldn't be eaten raw by humans as they can make you very ill and be poisonous to children. Cooking makes the fruit safe and it's used in Britain to make a bitter jelly as an accompaniment to game, jams and preserves. They can also be used for wine making and to flavour beers and spirits. In Austria they have a Rowan schnapps and the Czechs make a Rowan liquor. If you fancy cooking with Rowan berries there are many recipes out there, they are very bitter, but it's said they are a bit more palatable if picked after the first frost.

In the Ogham alphabet Rowan is Luis and its meaning is psychic protection, intuition and insight. In the Celtic tree calendar Rowan is the 2nd month which starts on January 21st - February 17th. Rowan is associated with the Goddess Brighid who carried fiery arrows made from rowan wood.

The Rowan has a long been seen as a magical tree of protection and was often planted near homes to protect them from malevolent beings, sorcery, storms and lightening. In Northern Britain rowan sprigs were also fixed above cattle barns to protect the animals.

Rowan trees were often planted near groves and stone circles for protection. It was believed that the trees were guarded by serpents and dragons. The berries and leaves can be used in Incenses to call up spirit guides and to aid divination and inner journeys.

Hang a small bag of the berries over your door to protect your home from negativity.

Carry the leaves, twigs or berries with you for personal protection, healing and luck. They will also protect you from storms at sea. Two twigs made into an equal armed cross and tied with red thread are a traditional rowan protection charm for your home.

Rowan and Apple jelly

1kg (2lb 4 oz.) rowan berries, taken off their stems and washed

500g (1lb 2 oz.) sour apples washed and cut into quarters

granulated sugar


Put the rowan berries and apple pieces in a big heavy bottomed pan and cover with water. Cook gently for 40 minutes. After this time the water will be red and the fruit very soft. Strain the fruit through a fine sieve or jelly bag reserving the liquid. Do not be tempted to squash the fruit it will result in a cloudy jelly. 

Measure the liquid, and put it in to a clean pan. For every 550mls of liquid add 450g sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil until it reaches setting point and pour into sterilized jars. – the jelly will set at around 104°C, check it by putting a bit onto a very cold plate and seeing if it wrinkles when you push your finger through it. Put lids on the jars as soon as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Sources: Herbcraft - Anna Franklin and Susan Lavender

Tree wisdom - Jacqueline Memory Paterson The Celtic wisdom of trees - Jane Gifford

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