Tuesday 1 September 2020

Extract: Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine: Rowan

It is the start of September and the weather has turned autumnal. Here is a seasonal excerpt on rowan from the book A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine by Ellen Evert Hopman:

Rowan, “The Wizard’s Tree”
(Sorbus aucuparia, S. americana)

The second letter of the Ogham tree alphabet is luis (rowan, also known as mountain ash). The Word Ogham of Morainn mic Moín designates rowan as li sula, “delight of eye.” The Word Ogham of Mic ind Oic characterizes it as cara ceathra, “friend of cattle.” We also see lúth cethrae “sustenance of cattle” in Briatharogam Con Culainn. The word luis means “flame or radiance,” which is a fitting description for this tree.

In Scotland, tiny crosses were made of rowan wood. With arms of equal length symbolic of the sun, they were bound with red thread and secretly sewn into clothing as a protection from sorcery. Rowan branches were placed in the cradle, laid over the lintel of the home, and hung in the barn to protect the cattle. Churn staffs were made of rowan wood to keep the butter safe from evil spells. Cradles, plow pins, pegs, and whips were made of rowan wood to protect the baby, the horse, and the land.

Rowan in the home is said to protect it from fire. Planted outside, it protects the house from witches. A circlet of rowan placed under the milk pail prevents the milk from being stolen by fairies or witches. Tied to the collar of a hound, it will make it run faster. Rowan berries are tied to a wild or unruly horse to calm it. In Scotland, rowan wood was once used for the crossbeams of the chimney, as a form of protection for the house. The distaff, the water mill, flail rods, and other household and farm implements were made of protective rowan wood.

Welsh graveyards and churchyards are often planted with rowan trees. Rowan prevents the dead from rising and protects against evil spirits, thus Scottish coffins and biers were once made of rowan wood.

The juice of the fresh berries is laxative and can be used as a gargle for sore throats and mouth sores. Take one teaspoon of fresh juice in water as needed. Rowan berry jam is made with apples and controls diarrhea. (If fresh berries are not available, soak one teaspoon of dried berries per cup of water for ten hours.) To make a tea or gargle, simmer one teaspoon of berries per cup of water for twenty minutes in a nonaluminum pot with a tight lid. Adults can take up to one cup a day in one quarter cup doses.

The Welsh once added the berries to ale recipes (the process has been lost) and in the Scottish Highlands, rowan berries and apples were simmered in honey to make a syrup for coughs, fever, and sore throats.

Native American healers and medicine people used rowan as a medicine. The Cree scraped the inner bark of young branches to make a tea for pleurisy and inflammatory diseases. The Montagnais called the tree “bear berry” because bears like to eat the berries. They made a tea of the scraped inner bark to increase appetite and to purify the blood. They also made an infusion of the root to treat colic. Caution: never take the bark from the trunk of a tree—you might kill it! Use only the inner bark of twigs.

The Ojibwa used the wood for objects that needed to be bent and flexible, such as canoe ribs, snowshoes, and lacrosse rackets.
The Potawatomi steeped the leaves to make a cold remedy. Apparently the leaf tea is emetic and in this way mucus is driven out. The Potawatomi also used rowan leaves for pneumonia, diphtheria, and croup. Caution: harvest the leaves only until summer solstice. After that they will contain too many alkaloids for human use.

You can view A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine on Amazon. It is published by Destiny Books. Ellen Evert Hopman is a herbalist and author. You can find her blog and bookstore at  www.elleneverthopman.com, http://elleneverthopman.com/shop/  You can study Druidism at The Tribe of the Oak www.tribeoftheoak.com

Pictures: (Top) public domain vintage print of a Rowan tree; (bottom) book cover.
Note: This extract is for information purposes only, it is not advice. Consult a qualified medical herbalist before taking any herbal remedy.

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