About the Rowan Tree: The Rowan Tree is a favorite of many for its strength and beauty. It is incredibly resilient and can survive in craggy riverbeds, inside other trees, and in other unlikely locations. It is a member of the Rose family and can grow to be about 50 feet tall. It grows naturally throughoutIt grows well even in depleted soil, though they are not common in New Jersey. They thrive in hardiness zones 3-5. New Jersey is made up of 6 in the Northwest and Central South Jersey and hardiness zone 7 in the rest of the state.
The Rowan’s wood was traditionally used to make walking sticks, for tool handles or spinning wheels, and the berries are still popular today in the making of wines, spirits and ciders. The bark and berries were used by Druids to dye their garments black. Modern Wiccan practitioners seek the wood from Rowans and “Flying” Rowans for use as wands and other magical implements.
THE MYTHOLOGY AND LORE OF THE ROWAN TREE
In Celtic Mythology, The Rowan is considered to represent power, vision, balance, healing, mystery, connection, protection, divination and transformation. Those with the Celtic zodiac sign of the Rowan are considered to be original and creative thinkers.
In Greek Mythology, the Goddess of Youth dropped a magical chalice of ambrosia, which was caught by the demons. The Gods sent an eagle to recover the cup, but as the demons and eagle fought, the feathers and blood from the eagle fell to the earth and became a rowan tree, with feather shaped leaves and blood drop berries.
In Finnish Mythology, the Rowan is the mother of all plants on earth. The goddess “Rauni came down from heaven in the form of a Rowan tree, and having mated with the god of thunder, Ukko, all plants on earth were born.
In Norse Mythology, The God Thor was being swept down the river of the underworld when he grabbed hold of a rowan tree bent over the river and pulled him to safety. It is also believed, in Norse mythology, that the first woman was made from a rowan tree. Its wood has traditionally been used for to create rune staves, or tablets for the inscribing of runes.
In the folklore of the British Isles, Rowan trees are believed to protect against witchcraft and enchantment, which is ironic, because the tiny five pointed star that forms a pentagram on the berries opposite its stalk is the modern symbol of witches and wiccans. The berries were believed to protect against enchantment for their color. It was also known as a Faerie tree. Sprigs of the tree were often used to protect homes, individuals and cows specifically. It is considered bad luck to remove rowan trees throughout the Scottish highlands and Ireland.
In Scandinavian Legends, the rowan was also considered a symbol of protection, though the preferred source of these charms were what the locals considered “flying rowans” or rowans that grow in unusual places such as the inside of another tree or in a cleft.