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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.