– Irish saying
Rowan is a very magical tree that has been connected to Brighid and Imbolc. The fiery red berries that ripen in the autumn remind one of her sacred flame. Country folk would make crosses with the branches and red thread, then attach them to their cows’ tails as a protective charm (Freeman, p. 264), which further connects them to Brighid in her role as a patron of domestic animals, particularly livestock.
The Witch of Forest Grove recently posted an inspirational entry on her blog about rowan – “Rowan, Red Thread, and Feathers.” She describes the Scottish tradition which is very similar to other Irish customs of using rowan as a protective charm in the house. Alchemy Works has an equally interesting description of rowan – the magical, culinary, cultural, and medicinal applications. Check out Edible Wild Plants A North American Field Guide by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dykeman for some more recipes.
Inspired by The Witch of Forest Grove, the full moon, and my excitement over Imbolc’s approach, I decided to make my own protective rowan cross with strings of dried rowan berries attached. I consecrated it in Brighid’s name during a ritual tonight and hung it in my bedroom. The ogham I drew following the rite were very good. I interpreted them to mean that Brighid had definitely joined me and that the charm was full of protective energy.
If you’re looking for something new to try to celebrate Imbolc, I definitely suggest making a rowan cross.
Freeman, Mara. Kindling the Celtic Spirit. Harper Collins, 2001.