A Folktale for Rowan

Long ago, there was a little cottage perched high up the side of a mountain. This mountain towered over a little village and only one steep little footpath wound down from the heights. In that cottage, a druid named Bridget lived with her chickens Ruis and Luis, and her lovely red cow Caorann.

So as all observant children know, few things can grow in the high mountains. But the rowan tree loves the rocky cliffs and the wind in her leaves, and folk called the tree flying Rowan because of this. As it happened, the Druid’s cottage had five flying rowan trees growing around it, and in the spring when the tree was in full bloom the frothy white petals made it look like her house was ringed in clouds. In the late Summer, these flowers would ripen into flame red berries and were the favorite treat of Caorann the cow, the chickens, and the Druid herself.

Now on the lower slopes of this mountain, was the finest grazing land for miles around, and Bridget would take her cow to those fields to let her eat her fill. But the villagers would also use these grazing lands for their own cows. For years the druid and the villagers were able to share this land. But the Druid, being wise in the way of the trees, knew that when her rowan trees had a bountiful summer harvest, the following winter would be a hard one; and that the snows would last near to April and the grass on the slopes would be thin and late. So the druid saved the rowan berries. She threaded them on a string and dried them in her rafters, she made them into jelly, jam, and pies.

The druid weathered the long hard winter and sated herself on the rowan jams and other saved summer crops. But hunger struck hard at the village below, and where there are hungry bellies, malefic spirits will come to fill them. Knowing this, the Druid turned once again to her protectors, the rowan trees. She remembered that her mother had taught her the rhyme:

“Red thread and Rowan tree make evil spirits (Malefic) lose their speed.”

So the druid tied charms of rowan twigs with red thread and hung them above her chicken coop, and around the neck of the cow, and on the lintels of every door and window in her home for protection. By night she burned a few rowan twigs to aid her in her divination spells and listened well to what the gods told her. Her divinations told her that a mob of villagers, possessed by hunger spirits would come to burn down her cottage under the light of the full wolf moon.

To prepare, The druid wet down the walls of her cottage and her barn and redoubled her charms and she set trip threads with alarm bells along the narrow path up the mountain and wove red yarn into nets that she strung from her Rowan trees. When the moon rose full behind the winter clouds, a mob from the village tromped up the winding mountain path to her cottage. Blinded by the might of spirits that possessed them, the villagers stumbled over the alarms, and the druid knew that her predictions had been true. As the mob approached her door, she hid among her rowan trees, just as the possessed villager came under their canopies, she whispered to her tree friends, and the roots rose to bind their feet, and the nets fell upon them from above. Thus captured, she drove the spirits out of the villagers and banished them from the world. Now clear of mind, she freed the hapless and hungry people and shared with them some of the food she had saved for winter. She gave each one a protection charm of rowan and told them to plant the seeds near their houses, and sent them back down the mountain. Soon the spring came and new rowans sprouted, and all was well for many more years.

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