Rowan trees were planted near doors and gates to ward off evil influences and branches were attached to barns in order that the cattle housed inside would be protected from misfortune. This tree was also believed to guard the gateway to the spirit world and its boughs often used for dowsing and deflecting spells. The Rowan is sometimes called the "Whispering Tree" and ancient legend tells that it has secrets to reveal to those who would but listen. The Rowan has been associated throughout history with protection against wickedness and is believed to be the wood which was used to engrave the Norse Runes. Its name is linked with the Norse "Runa" or "Rundall," meaning "a charm." It is also associated with the Sanskrit "Runall" meaning "magician." The Cornish and Scots would carry an equal-sided cross of Rowan to protect them from harm and wands were often placed over doorways to houses in order to ensure good fortune. In Wales, Rowans used to be planted in churchyards so that they might to watch over the dead. The Rowan, a tree of protection and insights, was known to be a tree belonging to the Faery. Its wood was frequently used for bows, favored second only to Yew for this purpose. When sliced in two, the orange-red Rowan berry reveals a pentagram symbol of protection. Thus, this tree was believed to possess the ability to protect from enchantment and trickery. It was once thought that the berries of the Rowan were so sacred that the Gods guarded them jealously and kept them from humankind. The Rowan was also believed to enhance strength with courage. The Ancient Druids would light fires of Rowan wood to help induce insights as to how a battle might progress and to invite the Faery folk of the Sidhe to fight alongside them, thus lending aid in the fray. The Tuatha De Danaan are said to have brought the Rowan to Ireland from Tir Tairnagire, the "Land of Promise." In Irish legend, the first human female was created from Rowan (the first male being created from Alder).
The Rowan tree, whose blossoms are members of the Rose family, flowers in May and rarely grows to be more than 30 feet in height. Also known as the Mountain Ash (although it is not related to the true Ashes), this tree is sometimes referred to as the "Lady of the Mountains," due to the fact that it often grows in the most inhospitable of places, though it is most frequently found in moutainous areas as well as gardens. The Rowan is also known as "Delight of the Eye," "Wiggy" and "Witchbane." This is a small, deciduous tree (considered by some to be more a shrub) with shiny, smooth, grey-brown bark that tends to roughen with age. All parts of the tree are astringent and may be used in tanning and dyeing black. When cut, its wood yields poles and hoops for barrels. The ripe red berries are said to be beneficial in the treatment of sore throats and inflamed tonsils and were once used as a curative for scurvy. The fruit of the Rowan is a favorite among birds and a delicious jelly can be made from the berries, which carry a pentagram shape...the symbol of protection and, according to many folk legends, an aid against magick. The Welsh once brewed an ale from Rowan berries, but the secret of this art has been lost over time. Walking sticks or magician staves were customarily made of this wood in order to ensure safe journeys at night and it was often carried on ships to prevent damage from storms. If planted upon a grave, the Rowan was thought to keep the deceased from haunting. A Rowan which grows out of another Rowan is known as a "Flying Rowan" and was considered especially potent against witches and their magick...a counter-charm against sorcery. Rowan is considered an "ornamental wood" and is a wonderful lure for birds (which gives this tree yet another name, "Bird Catcher"). It is also useful in making fence posts and walking sticks.
There are two distinct types of Rowan individuals (a division which relates to all Celtic Tree Signs). The "new moon" character is associated with the first two weeks of a sign and the "full moon" character is associated with the last two weeks.
The "new moon" Rowan individual tends to become impatient and frustrated in the struggle toward a greater awareness. Although such Rowans may never be quite reticent on a personal level, they will nonetheless help to pioneer great social changes with reforming zeal. The "full moon" Rowan individuals are less reticent all around, but are inclined to promise more than they are able to deliver. However, this will not negate their powerful influence and inspiration, and their response to every situation is primarily directed toward asserting the rights of the individual.
In general, Rowan individuals are basically idealistic and progressive thinkers possessed of visionary minds, coupled with strong humanitarian and spiritual principles. They thrive on change, becoming impatient with convention or restriction. Artistic, original and unconventional, Rowan people can appear to others as detached and aloof for they are self-contained individuals and their vision is not necessarily always shared by the rest of humanity. Their cool temperament disguises many passionate beliefs and the need is always present for these individuals to argue their case against bigotry and ignorance. If Rowans are unable to find an outlet for their powerful imagination, they easily become restless and quarrelsome. Being true individuals who hate conformity, Rowans are natural born leaders but, because they often adopt unpopular causes, sometimes have very few followers. They are kind and thoughful people but have problems in following others, which can lead to serious authority issues. Rowan people make for excellent listeners and are very respectful of others' opinions. Since they are somewhat unconventional characters in their approach to life, however, they have a tendency to be a little tactless and may alienate people. Rowans are also liable to antagonize through debate and escalate a situation out of proportion. In terms of a career, the Rowan individual is naturally drawn toward modern technology and possesses an overwhelming desire to reorganize and improve on anything which might be outdated.
Rowans are sympathetic bosses but would rather not take on responsibility for others. They frequently have diverse interests and tend to tinker with everything since they are extremely inventive people. The Rowan's sense of humor leans a little toward the odd side, with a propensity to laugh at serious issues...a trait that tends to reinforce their inherent knack for alienatation. They also possess a natural curiousity in science fiction and the concept of UFOs, while still being musically inclined and often enjoying the works of modern or relatively obscure musicians and composers. The unpredictable aspect of Rowans is a weak point in terms of relationships and they tend to be somewhat unromantic by nature. They usually marry later in life because they are reluctant to lightly make such a committment and also reluctant to relinquish personal freedom...it is not easy to find a partner who will understand this. Rowans can, however, enjoy extremely successful marriages if the chosen partner shares the same way of thinking. They are supportive parents, but will expect a great deal of independence from their children.
Physical Goal: To keep a hold on senses in order to distinguish good from bad...and harm from help.
Mental Goal: To refuse to be swayed, tricked or beguiled.
Spiritual Goal: To possess the strength to turn away anything that threatens purpose and serenity...to be unafraid.
Amergin Verse: "I am a Wide Flood on a Plain"
Ogham Association: Luis
Color: Red and/or Grey
Letter Character: "L"
Month: December...the second month of the Ogham calendar and named for the Roman Goddess Decima who, as the middle of the Three Fates, personified the present. Alternatively, it may have been named after the Latin Decem, which means "ten." Decem was the tenth month of the old Roman calendar. Anglo-Saxons called December "Aerra Geola" ("The Time Before Yule") or "Wintermonat" ("Winter Month") and to the Irish, it was "Mi na Nollag" or "Christmas Month." The December Full Moon is known as the Backwoods' Cold or Hunting Moon.
Alias: "Moon of Vision," "Spirit Moon" and "Astral Travel Moon"
Magickal Properties: Healing, personal empowerment and divination
Some Famous Rowan People: Garth Brooks, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Michael Jordan, Charles Lindbergh, Jerry Springer and Jules Verne.
Gemstone: The Rowan gemstone is the Peridot, also known as "Olivine," the "Evening Emerald" and, in ancient times, called "Chrysolite." Its name derives from the Greek meaning "golden stone." It is a transparent gem of a rich, bottle-green shade which contains a golden inner glow. One of the oldest known stones, it was once mined only at night because legend stated that the Peridot could not be easily seen during the daylight hours. It has been regarded as a gem of powerful magic by all ancient cultures. The Egyptians and Babylonians used it as a protective amulet against evil and it was often used to decorate medieval churches. Large Peridots (more than 200 carats in size) adorn the Shrine of the Three Magi at the Cologne Cathedral. The Greeks used it in headbands in order to foretell the future and the Druids stitched Peridot into their robes for protection. Said to possess the ability to drive away evil spirits, the power of the Peridot was considered to be even more intense when set in gold and King Solomon is believed to have been made wise and enlightened by drinking from cups made of Peridot. It is the only gemstone born in fire...the volcanic gem.
Flower: The flower of the Rowan is the Snowdrop, also known as the "Fair Maid of February," "Candlemas Bells" and "Mary's Tapers," and referred to by old botanists as the "Bulbous Violet." Its botanical name derives from two Greek words for "milk" and "flower" and it has long been associated with purity, being described in poetry of classical Rome from the First Century A.D. as being "brought down from heaven." Nevertheless, it is said to be unlucky to bring the flower into the house if a member of the family is ill. The Snowdrop has been known for centuries throughout Europe and grows best in cool, moist soil, reaching six to eight inches in height. Despite its beauty, the Snowdrop is often seen as an omen of death. One of the legends associated with the origin of the Snowdrop states that after her expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Eve sat weeping while an angel comforted her. Since the banishment, no flowers had bloomed...instead, snow fell ceaselessly. As the angel spoke with Eve, he caught a snowflake in his hand, breathed upon it and it fell to Earth as the first Snowdrop. The flower bloomed and Hope was thus born. According to German legend, when God made all things on the Earth, he asked Snow to go to the flowers and obtain a little color from each of them. One-by-one, the flowers refused. Extremely saddened, Snow asked a Snowdrop to give a little of its color and the Snowdrop agreed. As a reward, Snow now allows the Snowdrop to bloom first whenever Spring arrives. Snowdrops were originally transported to Europe from Turkey. Monks carried the bulbs from Rome to England and were the first to plant them around old monasteries. Because of this, the Snowdrop is sometimes known as the "Church Flower." Their presence in churchyards eventually generated an unlucky reputation for the Snowdrop. Although commonly believed to be the first wildflower of the year, the Winter Aconite is perhaps more worthy of the title. The Snowdrop is reputed to have digestive healing properties.
Celestial Body: The celestial body associated with the Rowan is the planet Uranus ("Brigantia"). Known to the Romans as Coelus ("Heaven"), Uranus was God of the Sky and father of the Titans.
Deity: The Rowan deity is Brigid, Celtic Goddess of Fertility and Poetry. Also known as "Brid" (among many other aliases), Brigid's name comes from the old Irish word "brigh," which means "power" or "renown." Daughter of the Dagda, Brigid was a major Celtic pastoral deity and one of the great Mother Goddesses of Ireland. Her priestesses numbered nineteen, representing the nineteen-year cycle of the "Celtic Great Year." As a Goddess, Brigid presided over many things...fire, fertility, the hearth, all feminine arts and crafts, as well as healing, agriculture, learning, poetry, love, witchcraft and occult knowledge, to name but a few. Brigid became Christianzed as Saint Brigit of Kildare, who is said to have lived from 450 AD to 523 AD, founding the first female Christian monastery community in Ireland. In Irish mythology, Brigid is regarded as midwife to the Virgin Mary, and has also been worshipped as a guardian of children and slayer of serpents. As Saint Brigit or Saint Bride, she is one of Ireland's Patron Saints.
The Crane -- One late Celtic tradition (apparently originated after the arrival of Christianity) stated that Cranes were people paying penance for wrong-doing. The Crane was associated with Lir, the Celtic Sea-God, who made his bag from the skin of this bird. The Crane was also sacred to the Triple Goddess and sometimes known as the "Moon Bird." It symbolized shamanic travel, the learning and keeping of secrets and the search for deeper mysteries and truth.
The Green Dragon - The Dragon symbolized inspiration and imagination. It represented the supernatural forces that guarded the great secrets and treasures of the universe. There are numerous references to serpents or dragons in Celtic mythology. On many occasions, the Fianna fought huge dragons in lakes. One likely center of the Serpent/Dragon was the sacred site of Kildare, under the protection of the Goddess Brigit. Most cultures considered the Dragon as a benevolent dweller of caves, lakes and the Inner Earth. In ancient times, it was a symbol of wealth and associated with the power of the Elements (particularly that of the Earth), but also of the treasure of the subconscious mind. It often appeared in many varieties...as a water serpent or worm-shaped beast, as well as the more well-known winged depiction.
January 21-January 24: Those born between these two dates also fall under the lesser influence of a secondary tree...the Elm, whose motto is "Noble Attitude." Elm individuals are usually pleasantly built and are fond of tasteful clothes. Their demands are modest and they are practical by nature. There is a tendency to be unforgiving of those who make mistakes, but they are otherwise cheerful. With a desire to lead, the unconventional Elm individual dislikes being given orders, but does make for an honest and faithful partner. With an inherent dislike of selfish people and those who "follow the pack," the ideals of Elm people lean strongly toward justice and tolerance. Although Elm individuals are prone to make decisions on behalf of others, they are nonetheless noble-minded and generous with a good sense of humor. Those who fall under the jurisdiction of the Elm detest being labeled...even if that label be a flattering one.
January 25-February 3: Those born between these two dates also fall under the lesser influence of a secondary tree...the Cypress, whose motto is "Song of Resurrection" or "The Faithfulness." Cypress individuals are strong, muscular and adaptable, taking what life has to offer. Content and optimistic, Cypress people crave money and acknowledgement and hate to be lonely, although they are prone to pursue independence. They are passionate individuals, with a love which is difficult to satisfy, but are nonetheless faithful. Cypress individuals have a tendency to be quick-tempered, unruly, pedantic and careless. They often possess a biting irony and a certain taste for sarcasm, acquired by virtue of their tendency to bravely undergo the hardest of blows and thereby learn how to free themselves from the burdens of life.
February 4-February 8: Those born between these two dates also fall under the lesser influence of a secondary tree...the Poplar, whose motto is "Overcome Doubt" or "The Uncertainty." Poplar individuals have a decorative appearance but tend lack self-confidence. They are prone to mature very quickly and assimilate things equally as quickly. Displaying courage only when absolutely necessary and hostile only toward extremists, the narrow-minded or hotheads, Poplar people prefer the goodwill of others and pleasant surroundings. This individual can be somewhat choosy, is often lonely and may harbor great animosity toward others. Artistic by nature, they are good organizers who lean toward philosophy. Reliable in almost any given situation, Poplar people cherish their friends and surround them with love. They take partnerships very seriously but are inclined to be generous only toward those who are generous in return. The life of a Poplar individual is made of judicious transactions and all manner of exchanges. If the Poplar perceives a warm and friendly atmosphere, then the heart and spirit opens...if not, then he or she will withdraw.
February 9-February 17: Those born between these two dates also fall under the lesser influence of a secondary tree...the Cedar, whose motto is "Moral Greatness" or "The Confidence." Cedar individuals are often possessed of rare beauty. They know how to adapt, have a love of luxury and are usually blessed with good health. Not in the least shy, Cedar people are prone to sometimes look down on others, they themselves brimming with self-confidence. Determined and often impatient, Cedar individuals like to impress. They have many talents, are industrious and possess a healthy optimism and inner strength. Alert and usually thoughtful, the Cedar lives in enlightenment, responding to precise self-imposed requirements. Neither success nor failure can erode the serenity or the determination of a Cedar individual. Otherwise able to make quick decisions, Cedar people seem to constantly be waiting for their one true love.