Tag Archives: shapeshifting

Ogham: Luis – Rowan

The Rowan Moon is 21 Jan – 17 Feb

Rowan is the tree of quickening and of divination.

Rowan is a small deciduous tree, found high up in the mountains, sometimes called “The Lady of the Mountain”. The Rowan tree, also known as “quicken” and Mountain Ash in the Welsh Marches where I live, is a well-known magical tree. Quickbeam  is the its name in the countryside, it’s called the Quicken Tree, the Quickbeam (meaning ‘living wood’) the Witch Tree. Remember Quickbeam, the Ent, in LOTR ?

Rowan flowers

A member of the Rose family, Rowan is related to Rose, Apple, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, and Cherry, and grows no higher than 30-40 feet. It can live up to two hundred years. The leaves grow in pairs and are long and slender. In May, Rowan blossoms into clusters of little creamy white flowers. The tree berries in autumn with a bright red fruit beloved by birds.

The Rowan berry is bitter, but when mixed with sugar or other sweet fruits, is excellent in pies, jelly or jam. Rowan berries are also made into juice and wine. The berries provide vitamins A and C, carotene, pectin and essential oil, and stimulate the immune system. Medicinally, Rowan berries are a laxative, and can also be used for sore throats, inflamed tonsils, hoarseness, even diarrhoea. A decoction from the bark is used as an astringent.

Rowan berries

The berries were commonly used to flavour ale in an old Welsh recipe and were used as a coffee substitute. This fruit can also be fed to wild birds, to flavour liqueurs and cordials and can be made into jam.

It’s possible the word “Rowan” comes from the Norse word rune, meaning charm or secret. The Sanskrit word runa means magician, but it may also be from the Gaelic rudha-an, meaning “the red one”. Rune staves were often cut from the rowan tree which gives a leaning towards the Norse … but most likely all three explanations are valid. Its Celtic name is “Luis”, (pronounced ‘loosh’).

Divination

Rowan is a gateway tree.

The Celtic shaman’s Silver Branch, calling Spirit, opening the gates between worlds to enable divination, is often made from rowan.

It is burnt for to invoke spirits for divination, bringing inspiration. Rowan is one of the nine sacred woods burnt in the  Beltane fire as it is the tree of dragons, guarded by dragons. Walking sticks made of rowan will guide you through the Wild Wood and the Enchanted Forest.

Rowan is one of the trees associated with the goddess Brighid, Smith/Healer/Poet. She is also the spinner and weaver of the Threads, the Wyrd of the World. Spindles and spinning wheels were traditionally made of Rowan. It’s also called the Wicken Tree and used for divining – one of Brighid’s skills through her Thread-weaving and kenning of the Wyrd.

In Scotland, Rowan trees were sometimes planted near stone circles and said to be especially powerful. The Faer hold their celebrations in stone circles guarded by Rowan trees. Rowan twigs placed above doorways and barns protect against bad luck and the tree is used for protection.

Rowan is a part of the fuel for burning the dead, symbolising death and rebirth. In Celtic lands red food is food of the dead. As a quickening tree rowan works in both directions, opens the gateway between Thisworld and Otherworld for both death and birth … death to Thisworld is birth into Otherworld and vice versa. It also opens the gateway for the shaman to journey between the worlds to bring back the kenning that their folk need.

In traditional Celtic divination ritual its round wattles, spread with bull’s hides, were used to call difficult spirits to answer, hence the Irish saying to “go on the wattles of knowledge” meaning to do your utmost to find the answer, get information. Thickets of rowan are often found in places used for oracular work, e.g. the Baltic Amber Isles.

Working with Rowan

Divination is a charismatic word, full of glamour, seductive … how many of us can truthfully put our hands up and say we’ve never been for a reading? Mostly we want difficult questions answered. Such answers mean we can shift responsibility for the outcomes from ourselves by saying we were following the reading … “only following orders” – now where have I heard that before?

Divination is often associated with clairvoyance. The word comes from the French, meaning clear vision. Many ancient Celtic wells and springs offered clearing the sight, while this can well mean clearing cataracts it likely refers to seeing across worlds, to divination, to clairvoyance. Water was fundamental to the Celtic tradition, the lifeblood of the Mother, the silver threads of life-energy that run throughout the body of the Earth carrying the knowing, kenning, of Life as well as the stuff without which we cannot live.

Rowan will help you.

In order to be clairvoyant, to divine, one must know oneself, be true and honest to and about oneself, this is not easy! Rowan can hold the gateway for you to see yourself as others see you and to know yourself as you truly are. Often these are not the same, nor should they be. All of us wear another skin – as in the bull-dreaming divination – but it is vital for each of us to know when we are wearing the bull’s skin and when our own. It is this confusion combined with the wish to look good in the eyes of others that disables clear-seeing, clairvoyance. While we are inveigled by our needs to look good nothing will appear as it truly is.

Spend time sitting with these words …

  • Clear Distinct Sharp
  • Vision Idea Revelation Concept Foresight Prediction Sight Ability to see
  • Divine Discover Guess Presume Discern Perceive
  • Thread Fibre Gist Storyline Theme Plot Idea

You’ll find working with these words, ideas, will draw out your own concepts, take your ideas out of the box. Coming out of the box is going through a gate, crossing, walking between worlds … this is the beginning of seeing clearly.

Be assured that this journey will be difficult. We are all accustomed to the sway things are and wish to assume that they will be this way always … of course, they won’t. but take rowan, and take courage, walk into the darkness to find the light.

Elen Sentier

behind every gifted woman there’s usually a rather talented cat …

Wye’s Women Elen’s Books Rainbow Warriors

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Wye’s Woman

I’m adding to the teaching I do for 2011, this is about some of the new work …

Wye’s Woman is about walking and sitting in the wisdom of the Land.

Most people live in towns and cities nowadays, they are not used to seeing a vast expanse of sky over them but have to peer up between rooftops to get a glimpse of sky. The times we live in do not encourage us to be still and quiet, to do nothing but listen and hear, feel, see, smell, taste, touch. If we go out, we have to be doing something, have a purpose and a goal, be able to tick the box when we get home.

The shaman’s journey is different. S/he goes out into the Land, not to change it but to be changed by it, by Her … the Celtic tradition feels the Earth, the Land, as feminine, as the goddess and calls her Sovereignty.

The goddess is in all things, from the smallest atom of rock to the hugest mountain. She is in tees and plants; animals, insects, birds; the soil and rocks and water; the air, warmth and light. She is within us too – if we will be still long enough to notice. She is in the River Wye, my home and mother-river, flowing around the land in which I live and she asks me to introduce her to others. So … Wye’s Woman.

The work is a lot about stillness, quietness, not talking but just being .. and opening up to hear the Lady, the goddess, speaking to us. This can be quite scary. You feel vulnerable, edgy. On the workshops you are encouraged to sit with these feelings, allow them to pass over and through you. This process washes you clean, makes space for the concepts the goddess wants to show you to come in.

The work is a form of shapeshifting, you let go of the shape-self you knew before and allow a new you to begin to grow. Most people who are interested will find the experience very deep, moving them into a new space. It’s usually a small but significant change that comes about – the goddess never pushes you beyond your limits but she can push you right to the edge.

Celtic World Tree

There are seven quests, between Imbolc and Samhain each year, exploring facets of our relationship to the goddess from the perspective of the seven points of the Celtic World Tree.

They all take place at sacred sites near the river Wye. I lead you into the Land and hold the energy for you but first we talk, I tell about the theme for that day, what we will do, what to expect.

We work through journeying, visioning, questing, poetry, song, dance and storytelling but most of all through listening in various forms of stillness. You can be still while walking, dancing, singing even …

The workshops cost £75/day, email Elen Sentier to find out more.

walk in the worlds of the Goddess
between the two lights
the twilight of sun and moon

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Writing …

except it’s afternoon !!!

Just arrived here as spent morning sorting out the Ogham post – it goes up here  tomorrow.  It was good fun getting the info together, if rather like herding kittens . there is just soooooo much that each tree relates to I feel I could write a damn encyclopaedia (sheesh! spelling … need coffffeeee!). I am putting the whole into a book – out next year at this rate.

I love trees. The lore they give you if you choose to journey with them is fantastic, and doing so is like an hour with your best friend, exchanging Q&A. Every time I go to write about them I found something new arrives and wants to be mentioned.

Writing’s like that … you set off with an idea and then the story wakes up and writes itself, you just have to stop it wandering off into indigestible and incomprehensible ramblings … again like herding kittens LOL. I’m having the same round-up scenes with the latest novel too. Having begun with a 14 yr old heroine, I’ve now got a 40 yr old hero, with fiddle, itinerant musician, with red hawk and now (since last Saturday) two ferrets as well … Yikes! And he’s going to fall in love with the heroine – who may grow to 16, sigh! – although nothing happens, which is probably very sad for them both but we’ll see.

Arrrrgghhh !!! back to the grind of writing … but I absolutely love it. except there’s a mountain and a half of work to do in the garden too. And I can’t wait for Paul to bring Fabrice’s french bread back from Fodders … Yummmmmmmmmmm !!!

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Lammas Bread

Lammas

A time of harvest & honour

The word Lammas comes from a word meaning “loaf mass” from the Anglo-Saxon “hlaf-masse” or loaf-mass. It is the first harvest festival of the year and many Celtic traditions bake a special loaf for this day. Here is a Scottish recipe.

Lammas Bread

Ingredients
  • 1 lb flour – a mix of flours tastes good
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cream or tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 pint milk
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
Method
  • Place the flour in a large bowl and add a pinch of salt, plus the cream of tartar and the baking soda.
  • Pour the milk into another bowl, and stir in the vinegar.
  • Then add the milk-vinegar to the flour mixture a little bit at a time to make your dough.
  • Knead this a bit and then shape into a fine, round lump.
  • Score a cross on the top of the loaf and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 35 to 40 minutes.
  • If you would like a sweet bread add in honey raisins & dried fruit

Even if you’ve never made bread before have a go. You can vary the recipe with herbs from the garden – lavender and rosemary, together or separately make excellent flavourings; sage bread is savoury and delicious; onion bread is good with soups as well as cheese.

Lammas Bread Corn King

As a shaman, I always honour my food – the ingredients as well as the finished meal. This means sourcing them well, with concern for how they’ve been grown, prepared and marketed for all food comes from the Earth who is our mother. If we mistreat her body with chemicals, force her to bear more vegetables and/or animals than she naturally can, starve her of water, pound her skin with heavy machinery and take no notice of her seasons then we rape her as surely as any man does with an unwilling woman.

So I source my ingredients locally as far as possible, grow a lot myself, know how the animals are treated who give me my meat and milk. I even know how the bees who give me the honey are treated, and that they are local, feeding from local flowers and orchards, not being air-bussed into California from Australia !!! And the flour I use is grown here in my country, in Britain.

This sort of honouring is far more important than any prayers and rituals I may use as I’m cooking and/or eating. It’s the sort of honouring that respects the Earth and tries to listen to her, to work with her rather than forcing her into what may be convenient to me.

Sometimes I make a corn king shape for my Lammas loaf, remembering the song John Barleycorn, and eat the bread with a glass of ale from one of our local micro-breweries. Sage bread is especially good for this.

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