The Rowan Tree
I chose Rowan, as you will soon see, for the strong psychic and spirit energies associated with the Sorceress. Although Rowan is often connected with Imbolc, which occurs around February, I find Autumn is the time to actually work with the tree on various levels. Now is the time to harvest some of her orange berries or create a protective talisman for yourself or your loved ones. But more on that in moment, I have included parts of an article by Glennie Kindred…she really says it all when it comes to sacred trees. Enjoy....
“The Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), Mountain Ash or Quickbeam, has the ability, perhaps more than any other tree, to help us increase our psychic abilities and to receive visions and insights through communication with the Spirit Realms or the Otherworld. In the past it was valued as a protection against enchantment, unwanted influences and evil spirits. Sprigs of Rowan were placed over doorways and fixed to cattle sheds to protect the animals from harm. Similarly, farmers would drive their sheep though hoops of Rowan branches, and in Wales, Rowan trees were planted in churchyards to watch over and protect the spirits of the dead. The Druids used the black dye from the berries for dying their ceremonial black robes. The ancient Druids of Ireland also lit fires of Rowan wood before battles and incantations were spoken over the flames to summon spirits to take part in the fight and to combat evil forces. Bewitched horses and animals were controlled by Rowan whips. It was also known that the Druids built special platforms made from interwoven Rowan twigs known as ‘The Wattles of Knowledge’. These were used as a kind of bed on which a Druid would lie as part of a ritual which induced a trance to gain hidden knowledge.
Rowan was truly valued for its ability to provide forewarnings and foreknowledge. It brings an increased awareness of outside influences, which may be affecting us, which we may have been unaware of. This is why it is such an important tree to communicate with. It brings a quickening of awareness of all our senses and abilities, on many different levels of our existence. If you are working with the Rowan, the messages which are constantly passed to us from the Spirit Realms become more obvious, as we become more open to receiving and interpreting these signs in our everyday lives.
Meditation is greatly enhanced by holding a Rowan twig, wand or touchwood. Similarly, Rowan wood can be used to focus your intention to understand and receive messages from the Spirit Realms and your Spirit Guides. Wearing a Rowan talisman, or carrying a piece of Rowan touchwood, will also enhance these abilities.
Rowan’s ability to open up communication with the Spirit Realms is the key to Rowan energy. Its name is linked with the Norse word ‘runa’ meaning ‘a charm’, and the Sanskrit ‘runa’ meaning a magician. Rune staves are sticks on which the runes were inscribed and were often made of Rowan wood. In the Celtic Tree Ogham, Rowan is the second of the Ogham letters, and is named ‘Luis’. It provides ‘the quickening’ of energy set in motion by the first tree, the Birch, and opens up communication with the Spirit Realms, which is so necessary for anyone wishing to work with trees, healing and energy pathways.
Rowan is the wood to use for making any magical tool that involves divining, invocation and communication with the Spirit Realms. It will help you to discriminate between what will do you harm or do you good, and help you deal with anything that threatens you. Rowan leaves and berries can be added to divination incenses.
The Rowan berry has a tiny five-pointed star opposite its stalk. The pentagram, ancient symbol of protection, is an outward manifestation of the Rowans protective powers, but there is more to the picture than this. It is not just the Rowan that protects you, but you, yourself. An increase in psychic ability and life-force energy puts you in touch with your own power, thus breaking any victim consciousness, or malevolent influences, which may have entrapped and weakened you.
The berries can be made into a variety of drinks, jams and medicines. Cut the clusters of berries off the trees in October and November while they are still firm (leave some for the birds!) and dry them by hanging them upside down in brown paper bags. This is best done in a warm, airy place or airing cupboard. When they are completely dry, keep them in brown paper bags or dark jars. The juice from the berries is mildly laxative and makes a good gargle for sore throats and hoarseness. To extract the juice from the dried berries, soak one teaspoonful in one cup of cold water for 10 hours or overnight, strain and use as a gargle.
When made into jam, the fruit becomes astringent, which is good for mild diarrhea. To make the jam, collect fresh berries in the Autumn. Boil the berries, strain off the seeds and skins and re-boil the liquid with 1 pound of sugar to each pint of juice until it sets. You may need to add some crab apples to the original boiling, to provide pectin to help it to set. It has a sharp flavor, which is good with cheese, salad or with meat.
The fruit can also be boiled, strained and made into wine, or gently boiled to make a vitamin C drink which was previously used for scurvy. The Welsh made a special ale using Rowan berries, but the secret of this is now lost. Perhaps with a creative, intuitive approach the ale-makers amongst us could create a new Rowan berry ale for feasts, rituals and ceremonies.”
The Rowan grows higher up the sides of mountains than any other native tree, often sprouting and growing from the tiniest of crevices and growing in the most inaccessible of spots. Its life-force energy is strong and determined. It reflects a power, a vitality and tenacity, with a clear message that harnessing the power of the life-force will make any manifestation possible. Its message is not to give up, but to hold on strong to the highest good you believe in. What you believe will become manifest, as you have believed it to be. We need to keep aware of what thoughts and influences we set in motion for ourselves.
The Rowan strengthens your personal power. It is this aspect that makes the Rowan such a powerful ally. Strengthening your positive life-energy increases your personal power so that you can withstand any negative forces. This is how it acts as a protective influence.
The Rowan is associated with the planet Mercury, the principle of communication between the worlds of the seen and the unseen.
Rowan is associated with Imbolc, the Great Fire Festival of early February, which is held to mark the quickening of the year. Imbolc is connected to the powerful surge of new growth, which is stirring in the depths of the Earth. It also represents the rebirth of Spirit, the spiraling out of the light energy from within and the upsurge in personal energy with which this is linked. Imbolc is dedicated to the young maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess, she, like Rowan, is associated with divine inspiration, illumination, intuition and the binding power of poetry and healing. More than ever, we need to harness these qualities and to make them part of our everyday lives. Imbolc and the Rowan help us to tap into a true synthesis and integration of our physical and spiritual selves by helping us to receive and act upon our intuitive insights that rise from within us. Learning to trust these parts of ourselves brings us into balance.
Working with the Rowan tree at Imbolc facilitates a quickening of personal power and inner resources. Make time to link in with Rowan energy, to help transformation, inspiration and visions. Choose any method of divination, such as candle-gazing, scrying, meditation, inspired drawings or free-flowing poetry. Leave your conscious mind behind and allow the intuitive process to unfold. Stare into nothingness, stare into mandala patterns or Celtic knot work patterns, or simply sit and ‘be’ and daydream. These are all very good for you and help you receive understanding and insight on another level. Sitting with trees and receiving impressions from them, reading the patterns in their bark, in their branches or in the landscape, or seeing pictures in the fire - all can open the doorway to receiving messages from the Otherworld and our Spirit helpers and guides.
If you feel you are in need of the protective qualities of the Rowan, take a small piece of Rowan wood and sandpaper it smooth so that is it a constant pocket-companion for you to touch and gain strength from. Make a medicine pouch out of chamois leather by cutting out a circle the size of a teacup. Make holes all the way round the edge and thread with leather lacing. In your pouch place a piece of bark or berries from the Rowan and wear it round your neck next to your skin if possible.
Be alert for an increase in your psychic powers, which your Rowan may induce in you. Use your Rowan to help you find inspired solutions to problems. Sleep with a piece of Rowan under you pillow to bring inner knowledge to the surface. Heed any portents or signs relating to future events.
Rowan energy should not be underestimated and its influence will bring about energy shifts on many subtle levels. For this reason, it has always been used by the wise, and respected and revered as a powerful energy tool, enhancing our ability to travel between the worlds.
Is the Visionary also a Sorceress? When we look at classic definitions for the Visionary archetype, it is interesting to note that the definition says this: “One who sees visions”.
While I agree that this is not wrong, over the past fifteen years or so, this word seems to have been enjoying a resurgence of positive meaning and many of us strive to be a visionary in our area of passion. To most contemporary women, the word ‘visionary’ is associated with those who have the ability to see in advance what lies before them, for example those who see the “big picture” of their goals and longings, or those who can see how taking this or that small workshop on cooking can lead them to a giant enterprise somewhere in the future.
The Visionary is able to see into the future, and imagine the outcome of their vision, and this can be disturbing to those around them who may not have this gift, which is probably where the concept of ‘sorceress’ came from - a visionary woman, with the ability to see and dream her way into the future. A sorceress who is also a visionary is also often a clear channel for spirit communication, and as such, they often are also medicine women, witches and wise women. I think that this is a powerful combination, but for those who have such gifts, the need to be aware of their shadow aspects is extremely important.
The Shadow Visionary woman may sell her prophetic abilities to the highest bidder, and may sell out her integrity by manipulating what she has seen to make it more palatable for her often vulnerable audience. She can also become so absorbed in her dreams that she becomes unable to function in the everyday world, becoming listless and unable to commit to anything for the overwhelm she feels of the outcome of her dreams; more often than not, her dreams are on a such large or grand scale that she has no idea where to begin.
If you find yourself drawn to the Visionary, and see in yourself the ability to see ahead into the future, or if you possess psychic or visionary abilities yourself, the wisdom teaching here is to always stay in deep integrity to yourself, to use your gifts wisely, and to remember to stay grounded in the reality of what is and is not possible.
The Sorceress archetype deeply contains the essence of a visionary, but the subtle difference here is that she searches out the laws of science and/or metaphysics to understand how to transform situations and influence people so that she can see her visions into realities. She is highly intelligent, like the Visionary, and as such she has to work hard to overcome the temptation to use her power manipulatively.
The shadow side of the Sorceress will see her out in the community, self-proclaiming guru-like wisdom, with nothing to back it up. She may have the vision to see many possibilities, and may also have the power of manipulation to convince others of her wild dreams, but if she herself has not done the hard work, then there will be nothing of substance for others to learn from. The Shadow Sorceress is also the part of us that is capable of making others sick through negative thoughts and actions such as gossip and negative attitudes. The Sorceress can be very manipulative if she wants to be, and because of her visionary abilities she can see three moves ahead of the person she wishes to manipulate, allowing her to win and get her wish, every time. Imagine if she used this strength for good, though!
Having some understanding of how sorcery works, and how all of us can actually be practicing unconscious sorcery, is extremely important if we are to step out and into the world as healers and women in our communities, holding within us the Priestess. It is also important for us as shamanic people who work with spirit guides. To this end, I recommend listening to Christina Pratt’s Radio show on Unconscious Sorcery for some grounding. The show has some aspects to it that are specifically for practitioners, but there is enough information that is vital to those who simply work with spirit guides, for it to be important in our work.
The positive aspect of the Visionary is that she is often very successful at serving as a catalyst for change, and amazing at turning problems into opportunities. She has the ability to reframe difficulties and empower those she works with, be they people or teams, helping to create flexible solutions for all involved.
Naturally intuitive, insightful, and inspiring to others around them, the Sorceress/Visionary woman is able to perceive and respect multiple perspectives, and in turn motivate those she works with into believing that anything is possible if they work at it. The positive aspect of these women is out of this world, filled with possibilities and success!
The healthy Sorceress or Visionary seeks to transform the world and herself with her own hard-won wisdom and knowledge. Her thinking is intuitive and informed, which allows her to perform ceremony and ritual in a meaningful way. She seeks to use her visionary abilities to support others in their futures, supporting and helping them to walk on their own unique destiny path, not to move them onto hers. And, lastly, she is not threatened by others’ gifts. A strong Visionary/Sorceress woman, who knows herself, is able to celebrate others’ gifts, and takes pride in surrounding herself with people who have them, and as a result, envy does not even come into the equation.
What the contemporary Visionary/Sorceress looks like is a woman who infuses her work-life with her spirit-life, and in this way, not only can she be a wildly successful woman herself, but she can help others along the way!
HEKATE (or Hecate) was known as a triple goddess of the earth, sky and underworld. She was associated with dealings in magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, snakes, ghosts and necromancy. As the only child of the Titans Perses and Asteria, she received her power over heaven, earth, and sea.
Hecate is also the goddess of the three paths, guardian of the household, protector of everything newly-born, and the goddess of witchcraft and sorcery, with a deep knowledge of plants and poisons.
At one time she was a widely revered and influential goddess, but her reputation became tarnished over the centuries, until it became common to see her depicted as a “hag” or old witch stirring a cauldron. However, if we look closer at her original story nothing could be further from the truth!
Hecate was once a beautiful and powerful goddess and it was said that she was the only one of the ancient Titans who Zeus allowed to keep their authority once the Olympians seized control. And not only that, but Zeus shared with Hecate, and only her, the power of giving humanity anything she wished to give or not to give, depending on her choice.
Usually classified as a “moon goddess”, her kingdoms were actually three-fold — the earth, sea, and sky. Familiar with the process life and of death, the goddess Hecate was wise in all of earth’s mysteries, and supported others as best she could in all these realms. Hecate was widely known as a protector of women, especially during childbirth, as women called upon her to help ease their pains of labor, and then again after the birth to protect the mother and child. Hecate also was said to help the elders make a smooth passage into the next life by staying with them for the process of dying, and assisting them in the otherworld once they were gone. The people gave Hecate a lot of honor and yet usually stayed as far away from her as possible. Often, when darkness set in for the night, plates of food were put out for the goddess, which in turn were usually eaten by those in need and living in the streets, which made her a patron and protector of the homeless. Because Hecate was also a goddess of the crossroads, often a pole was erected at these sites and three masks would be hung from it to pay homage to Hecate and to request her guidance in helping to choose the right direction.
Hecate was a “virgin” goddess because of her choice to not give up her independent nature for the sake of marriage. She was usually depicted with her sacred dogs, that are said to have three heads so that they could see in all directions — the past present and future. She was also usually accompanied by an owl, which is a symbol of wisdom, death and the night.
Hecate was often described as walking through the graveyards at night shining or luminous, much like the moon. Hecate can be called upon when you need to look at something in a new way that you have never looked at before. The best time to do this is when the moon begins to first wax.
Hecate’s ability to see into the Underworld made her comfortable in the company of those whom most would shun, out of fear or misunderstanding; in so many ways, this also endeared her to the people and of course it was this exact ability that gave her such a predominant role in the myth of Persephone. It was the goddess Hecate who was able to see where Persephone had been taken and to tell her mother, the ever-frantic Demeter, where she was. Of course, this did not help Hecate’s reputation as a sorceress, walking through graveyards and visiting the Underworld; this eventually led to her new name, “Queen of the Night”.
If we look at all of the many things the goddess Hecate is and was, ultimately, Hecate was a sorceress and visionary of the highest order, watching over women and protecting those in need, using her powers when needed for the betterment of those around her. If we listen to her deeper message, though, we realize that Hecate may ask us to let go of what is familiar, safe, and secure, and to travel to the scary places of the shadow soul; we just may be surprised and delighted at what we find there!
Take note of the traits of the Sorceress/Visionary Goddess within yourself. Bring them forward this month as you delve into the next layer of this month’s journey work.
You will begin this journey by connecting with your Animal Spirit Guide. Begin in your sacred spot and look for the entry to the lower realm. Journey through the entry into the lower realm and call to your Guide. Ask your Guide to lead you to the sacred grove where you might connect with the Rowan tree. The sacred grove on the whole is a circle of twelve trees. You will sit with each one of these trees over the course of thirteen moons.
Journey to the Rowan Tree
Today, you will sit under the Rowan. Once you’re situated in your journey you may proceed. Be very clear in your intent and ask the Rowan Tree:
What aspect of the visionary do I need a lesson in at this time?
Where in my life do I need clarity or to ‘see into or beyond’ at this time?
As you sit, keep your heart open to whatever will come to you. Remember, the message may not necessarily be words. Your Guide may show you images or sing a song, or anything really.
Take note of everything you see, hear, feel or even smell, as it is “all important”. Jot down your feelings and muse in your journal around this journey. Give yourself a few days to process.
If you relate to this archetype, ask yourself and journal on these questions:
1: Has there been a time in your life that you can remember someone you cared about trying to take you down a notch for seemingly no reason? Is it possible that this confusing interaction had to do with them feeling threatened by your power?
2: If this has happened to you, were you aware at the time why it was happening?
3: Do you still carry those negative messages about yourself from that time?
4: Are you ready to let them go and move into your strength as a powerful visionary woman?
5: As a visionary woman, do you ever remember a time when you may have used this strength to your advantage, perhaps with not the best intention? How did it feel?
6: List the times you have used your visionary abilities in a positive way and how it helped others and yourself. How did it feel?
7: Think of any examples of other women in your life who carry this aspect/archetype. What do you love about them and what do you not love about them?
If you do not necessarily resonate personally to this archetype ponder these questions:
1: Do you have someone like this in your life currently? Do they have a positive or negative influence on you or in your life?
2: If this person is having a negative influence on your life, what can you do to change that relationship?
3: If this person has a positive influence in your life, consider telling them. Often strong people do not receive many compliments because others assume that they are either getting them all the time, or that they do not need to hear them.
4: Think of any examples of other women in your life who carry this aspect/archetype. What do you love about them and what do you not love about them?
There is a saying that those we are drawn to mirror some hidden aspect of ourselves and perhaps there are parts of you that do carry the visionary aspect that you have not considered.
Journey for your Sacred Object
Journey again into the lower realm, meet your Guide and ask that you be shown the sacred object that represents your inner visionary. Once this object is revealed to you. It’s time to retrieve it in the real world. This might takes days, weeks, or even months to finally secure your sacred object. If you have not found your object but know what it is, select a ‘placeholder’ to work with until your true power object is secured.
Once you have your object in hand, journey with the object to ask for any additional information you need at this time regarding yourself as a Visionary/Sorceress.
In a separate journey (let’s not confuse our Guides), ask to ‘see what might have once been hidden’ that you might bring balance to that area in your life. Continue to journey with your object as much as you feel called to this month. Remember that you have the whole month to make a sacred bond with your object before it goes into your medicine bundle, so take that time and sit with it as much as possible.