Of old, during the month of May, farmers passed all their livestock through a large hoop made of Rowan to protect them and ensure fertility. Benevolent fairies are said to have inhabited the Rowan, which if grown near the home would protect its occupants from evil spirits. A piece of Rowan was often sown into the clothing of small children to protect them from capture by evil fairies. Often red berries, after being left to soak in water, were sprinkled around areas one wished to protect.
In Scandinavian myths, the first woman was formed from the Rowan tree and the first man from Alder tree. The red berries of the Rowan were considered sacred by most cultures and are symbolic of the forces of creation – blood, life, death and renewal. The old peoples of Ireland believed that the Rowan possessed the power to restore lost youth and was guarded by serpents and dragons. They also associated Rowan with Bridget and Brigantia whose arrows were made from Rowan wood.
In Aegean/Mediterranean myths, the Rowan is connected to a tale about the drinking cup of Zeus, which was stolen from Olympus. An eagle was sent to recover the cup and a battle raged with the creatures that stole it. The legend has it that wherever a drop of blood or feather fell during the battle, a Rowan tree subsequently sprouted. Similarly, the red berries of the Rowan are symbolically associated with droplets of blood and are used by many contemporary pagans and witches as such during ritual and magick. Gone are the days when real sacrificial blood was used.
Rowan wood can be carried and used to increase psychic powers, and its branches used for making dowsing rods or magical wands. The leaves and berries of the Rowan can be added to incense to aid divination and increase psychic powers. The bark and berries carried on the person will also aid in recuperation, and was added to health and healing sachets, as well as power, luck and success charms.
Tying two small twigs of Rowan together with red thread in the form of an equal-armed cross is an age-old protective amulet. Cornish peasants carried these in their pockets for protection; as did Scottish Highlanders sew them into the lining of their kilts before going into battle. Walking sticks and staffs made from Rowan are excellent tools for those who roam the fields or woods by night, as well as an aid to walking; they offer protection from lightning. Similarly, when traveling across water, carrying a piece of Rowan will protect the ship from storms at sea.
When a family member dies, planting a Rowan tree over their grave would prevent their souls from haunting the place. The red berries of the Rowan have a five-pointed star (pentagram) from were it was attached to the stalk. The pentagram is an ancient symbol of protection and so carrying the berries in a pocket would protect a person from harm. Highland women made necklaces of the berries threaded with red thread for protection. The Rowan was thought to help a person distinguish good from bad, help from harm, and friend from foe. Spiritually, it protected you from unwanted influences and symbolized beauty, privacy, peace and sanctuary.
The Rowan has deity associations with the gods: Dagda, Thor, Vulcan, Pan and Herne, and with the goddess: Bridget, Brigantia, Aphrodite, Cerridwen and Hecate. Its gender type is Masculine. Its planetary ruler is the Sun and its associated elements Earth and Fire. Rowan is used to attract the powers needed for: Protection, Healing, Success and Psychic Powers.
Astrologically, Rowan people (i.e. those people born during the period 21st Jan – 17th Feb) are protective and full of charm, cheerful, gifted and without egoism. They like to draw attention, love life, motion, unrest and even complications. They are both dependent and independent, have good taste and are artistic and passionate. While sociable and good company, they can also be emotional, and do not forgive or forget.