I’ve been wanting to gather some rowan tree facts. I’ve long been curious about this tree, but few seem to know much about it and use the medicine it offers. I’ve admired it’s beauty on my many strolls through the Norwegian countryside. These days it glows a brilliant red among the green and yellow colors of autumn, and I can’t help but think that this tree must hold some powerful magic.
I find it interesting that the name “rowan” comes from the Old Norse word “raun”. It is somewhat similar to “rogn”, which is what we call it in Norwegian.
Medicinally the berries seem to get used the most. People would make jam out of the berries which was often eaten as a side to red meat to help prevent gout. Tea was made to heal urinary tract problems, diarrhea and hemorrhoids.
The fruit is very high in vitamin C, and is loved by many creatures of the forest. Eating the berries raw can apparently cause kidney damage in humans, and its therefore best to cook them to neutralize this effect. Rowan berries taste pretty bad in their raw state so its rather hard to eat a lot of them. Freezing them helps reduce their bitter taste. Picking them after the first frost can be a good idea.
Someone told me to use the rowan leaves, especially the new leaves to make tea as they taste better than the berries.
The bark would be decocted to make a drink to treat diarrhea, nausea and an upset stomach.
The wood was traditionally used to make bows, bowls and other objects.
Folklore and Mythology
In norse mythology it is said the first woman came from the rowan tree, and that it saved the mighty god Thor from drowning. He was being swept away in a river when the tree bent down to help him back to shore.
In the British Isles it was used for protection against enchantments. At the tip of each berry there is a tiny pentagram (which I found to be fascinating) and this might have been one of the reasons it was thought to ward off evil. Pentagrams with the right side up, are in themselves protective symbols. I personally use them frequently.
Red was also considered to a color of protection. The rowan tree was as well thought to be a fairy tree and belonging to the Goddess, because of its beautiful white flowers.
The place in which the tree grew was also said to be protected, and there were strong taboos against removing or harming the tree in any way. Today we don’t think like that. On one of my walks I saw that someone had cut a rowan tree and just left it at the side of the road. It made me feel sad, even more sad than for all the other trees that were also being cut down to make room for houses.
There are many more beautiful myths about the rowan, and it’s a pleasure to read about them.
Gathering all these facts makes me want to connect with it more, and from my own experience feel the magic of the rowan tree.