Trees have lived on the Earth far longer than we have, dating back some 350 million years, so it is only natural that we turn to them for shelter, healing and wisdom. The Celtic imagination was rooted in the Earth and took its inspiration from the ancient forests of Britain. A Druidic alphabet of tree magic, called Ogham, emerged, and a tree, or in some cases a plant, such as Ivy, was assigned to each lunar month, resulting in a poetic and symbolic language based on the Moon and the cycle of the seasons.
February, the second month in the Celtic tree calendar, is dedicated to the Rowan, a tree rich in the lore of enchantment and protection. The wood was considered a powerful charm; branches were hung over doorways to protect the household, and draped in barns to guard against the bewitching of livestock. It was, like the yew, planted in graveyards to watch over the dead. Cutting down a Rowan tree would bring ill luck, but twigs and branches could be gathered for talismans and amulets. Its red berries reveal a pentagram, a five-pointed star when sliced crosswise, a tiny imprint of sacred geometry that occurs throughout nature, from apples, flowers, and tiny berries to the planet Venus, which traces the same pattern in her orbit.
In Norse mythology the Rowan is a goddess tree, associated with the maiden aspect of the triple goddess. It fosters intuition and illumination, the rekindling of imagination and creative work. it is also sacred to the planet Mercury, and the gifts of poetry, incantation and inspired speech.
The Full Moon of February occurred on February 3 at 4:08 PM, MST, and falls in the fire sign Leo, further emphasizing the theme of illumination and creative passion. The Moon makes a close conjunction with Jupiter, the planet of faith, optimism and general benevolence.
This Full Moon encourages us to fan away the ashes of past failures and doubts, and find the creative spark that will ignite a new flame to light the way ahead. With Mercury retrograde in Aquarius until February 11 there is a need to give the analytical mind a rest, and allow insight to come through dreams and contemplative moments. Aquarius is associated with the nervous system, as is Mercury; this is a good time to use herbal teas that strengthen the nerves, like passion-flower or Valerian. Candlemas, Valentine’s Day, and Ash Wednesday (February 18) all fall in the Rowan month; it is a time of purification and rededication to that which inspires and engages the heart’s passions — art, beauty, love, justice, peace.
Nan De Grove is a gardener, painter and astrologer. She writes the monthly full-Moon column for The Lore of the Garden, as well as other occasional contributions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.