Witching Trees: Rowan

“Rowan tree and red thread, leave the witches all in dread.”


Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Sorbus
Latin Name: Sorbus aucuparia
Folk Names: Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, Witch Tree, Witchbane
Ogham Letter: Luis
Planetary Ruler: The Moon
Element: Water
Sacred To: Thunar, Brighid, Brigantia

Botany: Rowan are a deciduous tree or shrub growing between 30 to 70 feet in height. The trunk is usually slender with silvery grey bark in younger trees, ageing to a brownish grey on older trees. Leaves are feather-shaped, with leaflets either side of a central stalk, and are a mid-green shade. Rowan flowers are a creamy white colour, becoming scarlet berries in the autumn. They are native to most of the Northern Hemisphere.

Crafts: Rowan has a creamy sapwood surrounding a reddish-brown heartwood, and is often used in woodcarving and turning. Walking sticks and tool handles are frequently made from rowan wood, and the bark has been used to dye fabric. Rowan fruit can be made into jelly to accompany cheese and meat, and fermented into wine.

Healing: Rowan berries contain a goodly amount of vitamin C and can be made into syrup to help prevent coughs and colds. A tincture made from rowan berries may be used as a gargle for singers and storytellers.

Magical Uses: Rowan is well-known as a tree associated with witchcraft and protection. Traditionally, crosses of rowan wood, as well as strings of rowan berries, are hung up in the home to protect against lightning strikes and malefic witchcraft. Rowan wands are especially useful in casting protective circles, and the dried leaves, berries and wood shavings can be added to protection incense and to banish malicious entities. Sprigs of rowan berries may be offered in feasts to the spirits of the dead.

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