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Celtic Tree Lore

Rowan - Luis - January

Luis - Flame - Mountain Ash

Latin name - Sorbus Aucuparia

Rowan - Celtic Moon month Jan 21st - Feb 17th

Wood - grey, cracked bark
Leaves - leaf is divided into smaller leaves with jagged edges
Flowers - fragranced small white flowers
Distribution - Asia and Europe and planted in welsh graveyards
Associated names - Mountain ash, Witch Tree, Tree of Life, Whispering Tree, Sorb-Apple, Service Tree
Associated colours - white and red
Associated day - Sunday
Associated stone - yellow chrysolite or ruby
Associated bird - the duck and the blackbird
Associated element - fire
Associated planet - The Sun and Uranus
Herbal gender - masculine
Herbal uses - the bark has astringent qualities and can be used for irritable bowls, the berries can be made into a juice
which can be used as a laxative and of course the berries are food for a number of bird species.
Parts used - bark, leaves and fruit
The Rowan tree was strongly connected with Dragon energy.
The Rowan can be used to divine metal ore.


The Rowan's Celtic name is Luis and is the letter L in the tree alphabet. Its Latin name is Sorbus Aucuparia. It is also known as Delight of the Eye (Luisliu), Quick bane, Quick beam, Quicken, Quicken beam, Ran Tree, Roan Tree, Roden Tree, Rune Tree, Thors Helper and Witch’s Tree amongst others. Associated colour is grey and connected to Sun and the element fire.

The Rowan is slender with steeply raising branches and it can grow up to 50 feet tall in some areas. The Rowan bark is smooth, shiny silver grey, with pores. The leaves start to appear in April these are toothed in appearance made up of many leaflets arranged on a central stalk in 6 to 8 opposite pairs with a single leaflet at the end similar to Ash. The buds of the Rowan are hairy in appearance. The Rowan tree flowers in May with scented five petal flowers in clusters.
The fruit of the Rowan are the red berries, the berries start as green then ripen to orange/yellow and to a bright scarlet colour in the autumn. The berries have a tiny pentagram on their tops - ancient symbol of protection, hence this tree is known as a tree of protection.

The Rowan can live to 200 years plus and it’s a species of the Rose family. It doesn't form woods on its own, the Rowan thrives in poor soils and can colonize there in this type of soil, also in cleared areas, it does need a lot of good light to survive and be healthy.
The Rowan can be found in many areas and its best known as an age-old roadside tree. It can also be found on heaths, moors, rocky uplands and ancient woodlands. Many Rowans are found on high grounds due to the birds carrying the seeds there also found around many stone circles and ruins of ancient settlements.

The wood is very tough and flexible, used in many ship parts including masts, also for spindles and spinning wheels. Rowan wood is good for carving small objects including handles for tools.
The Rowan has also been used instead of yew for longbows. It was often used as a walking stick combining support with protection against psychic attack. A Rowan twig can also be used to dowse especially for metals.
Other uses of the Rowan; The bark can be used in dyes and tanning hides, berries are combined with crab apples to make jellies and chutneys, use for ale and distilled into stronger spirits.

For healing Rowan have many properties but a warning the berries are poisonous to children and always check before using.
A concoction can be used for sore throats and inflamed tonsils, used as a gargle. The berries are rich in vitamin c, organic acids, tannins, sugars and pectin. A strong astringent infusion can be used externally for haemorrhoids and scurvy. Antibiotic and astringent, Rowan can be used as a mild purgative, general tonic and diuretic. Many herbalists also say that an infusion of the fruit can be given to aid the reduction of pressure in the treatment of glaucoma.

The Rowan has been seen as a magical and mystical tree for many thousands of years. In the Myths and Legends of Finnish people it was believed to be the first tree and after being stuck by magical lightening became the tree that all other trees and plants came from. The name Rowan means tree in Norse and many believe it’s where the name rune came from. The word Rune means “magic secret”. The runes were traditionally carved from Rowan wood. Luis is the second letter in the Rune alphabet. It’s also the second letter in the Ogham Alphabet.
The Mystical properties of the Rowan are many, a tree dedicated to Brigid and held sacred by her worshippers. The Rowan is seen as a feminine tree of boldness due to the brightness of its leaves and berries also relates to the blackbird and duck. The duck being at home on land, water or air, symbolizes the balance between the physical, emotional and spiritual worlds. This can only come when we freely express ourselves. Free expression is one of the divination meanings of the Rowan. The duck is a powerful totem animal and a trusted ally on visionary quests. The Celtic name Luis means flame or bright in Gaelic. As it’s a tree of magical protection it has been long used to ward off enchantment and lightening. A whip or branch would be attached to a horse that was believed to be under an enchantment. It was also made into protective sprays and crosses bound with red thread, and then put over doorways in houses and animal barns, cradles would have Rowan cross on it to protect the children. Rowans were planted around hourses, churchyards to bring protections from harm and evil spirits.It’s often thought to protect against mischievous fairy folk but also draws the fairy, as they love this tree. To harm a Rowan would bring the elementals and faeries and surround you with bad luck.

It also has the meaning of the Tree of Life, control of the senses, nurturing, insight and vision. It was often used in alcoholic drinks to aid vision quests. It was believed to give special insights and knowledge. It also protects against chaos and destruction. Rowan power nourishes as well as protects. Many Wiccan's and Pagan's prefer to make their wands and amulets from Rowan especially the “Flying Rowan”, a young Rowan growing out of an older tree.
Night before Mayday (Beltane) ceremonies were held that were called in many places the “Rowan Tree Day."

A Finnish folklore
"In the yard there grows a Rowan
Those with reverent care should tend it
Holy is the tree there growing
Holy likewise are its branches
On its boughs the leaves are Holy
And its berries even more Holy."

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Written by Spiritdancer, Designed by Sol © Mystic Familiar 2010

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