Rowan – Calling
Genus: Sorbus – Family: Rosacea
Rowan encourages us to listen to the call in our heart even if it involves making a difficult decision. This could mean leaving and starting over. Remember, endings create new beginnings.
Rowan trees were planted in front of walkways to mark the place where one enters and leaves at the same time. This reminds us that as one door closes another immediately opens. Rowan trees have the ability to live in difficult mountainous environments, which led to them to being called “The Lady of the Mountains” or more commonly Mountain Ash. Even though rowans are not related to ash trees, both were sacred to the Celtic Druids who saw them as portals between death and rebirth. Rowan signifies a time of heeding our calling and starting a new journey. It may be the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another. In Norse mythology, Thor saved himself from drowning by grabbing the branch of a rowan, thus giving himself another chance at life.
In the time of Plato, (Greek philosopher circa 428-348 BCE) the Rowan “sorb apple” or fruit of the sorb tree was pickled and eaten in halves. In Plato’s Symposium, the sorb apple was a metaphor for cutting the original spherical nature of humans, as both male and female, in half. This separation created the longing to find our other “half”, as if that part of our soul had left us.
The European rowan, Sorbis aucuparia, known as the “traveler’s tree,” was believed to help people if they were lost on their journey. The hard, dense wood of a rowan was used to carve walking sticks that supported those who followed their souls calling.
The genus name Sorbus, is Latin for “red or reddish brown”, which describes the trees red fruit. Sorbusalso has the meaning of “service-tree” because it, along with pears, were edible fruits that were “served” during meals. The name “rowan” comes from an old Germanic verb raud-inan meaning “to redden.” Rowans are members of the Rose family and its bright red berries have been sacred symbols of blood and protection for thousands of years.
Rowans are native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They are medium-sized deciduous trees that can live to be 300-400 years old.
Message: The rowan encourages us to keep moving in the direction of our soul’s calling. This calling will eventually lead us back to ourselves as one. In Jungian psychology, this calling begins as we subconsciously separate our self from our soul at an early age in order to create our own unique identity. Along the way we eventually long to feel whole and begin searching for our other half. This reunion of the self and soul becomes a conscious journey that requires us to make peace with our shadows as sources of wisdom, compassion and strength.
Challenge: Unwilling to travel or explore new places or realms. Feeling cast out and isolated, potentially self-destructive.
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