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Sorbus aucuparia

A 'tree of life' in Celtic tree lore, the dainty appearance of this small, but strikingly beautiful tree belies its inner strength and resilience. It likes to grow on the forest's edge, but does not shy away from the most inhospitable places - exposed hillsides or seemingly bare rocks, which it graces defiantly. Its decorative appeal has ensured it a place in our urban environments, where it bravely withstands car fumes and other assaults. Sacred to Thor, the mighty God of Lightening will rarely strike it. It is thus considered a 'lucky tree', endowed with the power to ward off evil and sorcery, which is why it is often planted in farmyards, or its branches are pinned above doorways. The common name, Quickbeam, points to its magical power of transmitting fertility. Its vigour is not only evident in the tree's quick growth and resilience in adversity, but is also expresses in the magical signature of the white flowers and red berries, bearing the sacred colours of blood and seed. In the Celtic Tree Calendar, Rowan stands for the second month of the year, the time of quickening. It is associated with the powers of intuition and communication with the spirit world.

Rowan berries are rich in vitamin C and used to be used as an antiscorbutic. They can be added to a wholesome breakfast tea blend or refreshing summer beverage. The dried berries are said to be effective for kidney stones, urinary problems and diarrhoea. Their astringency lends itself well to gargles for a sore throat and tonsillitis. They are rarely used medicinally now, but can be used to make wild fruit jellies, vinegars and liqueurs.

Rowan belongs to the Great Goddess. It is a tree of the Queen of Fairies and is associated with the spirit world. It offers protection on spirit journeys and on the journey of the soul to the Otherworld. It is associated with intuition, spirit communication and divination and a traditional wood to carve runes from. It is also an appropriate tree for carving magic wands. Rowan symbolises resilience and strength in the face of adversity, determination and defiance. It is a tree of life that transmits the quickening powers of fertility and abundance.