Today my apprentice came over and off we walked into the woods with our raincoats and wellies armed with garden shears to hunt the right size of Rowan branches to make Rowan Crosses with the weaving method used to make Ojo de Dios or “God’s Eye”. I also harvested some thicker branches to make a set of Ogham fews for friend and kept the thinnest branches for carving prayer bead sets.
Winter is a good time to harvest from trees as they are sleeping, the sap run out of the branches. It is more humane to cut branches from a tree in winter, it doesn’t hurt them as much or cause as much damage. If you were deep in hibernation and someone trimmed your toenails you aren’t likely to feel anything… Never take more than 10% of any plant, even less from trees if you can (I will go over proper harvesting methods in a future post). After we returned home I showed my apprentice how to peel the bark off the branches for the Ogham fews and smooth out the knots with a knife. I left the de-barked woods by a heater to dry and hung up the excess bark to dry for use in oil and incense blends. I don’t like to waste anything I wildcraft, I’ve even sold big bags of woodshavings from my carving magical trees to heathen blacksmiths for lighting their forge’s sacred fires.
We left the bark on the branches for the Rowan crosses as we were working with greenwood that couldn’t be sanded and also the weaving alone takes enough effort, why add bark-peeling, sanding, oiling and waxing onto that tally? The bark is silver and seems to be lit from the inside, it has a beauty all its own. Using merino wools dyed in bright and natural berry-dyed reds and indigos for protection we wove our crosses into beautiful eyes. The higher quality of yarn you use, the better the finished product will look. We discovered variegated yarns look the most beautiful. Rowan crosses bound with red wool are an old European charm, mainly from Celtic regions, used for protection from ghosts, spirits, witchcraft, curses, ill health, bad luck and all manner of ills. However, Rowan’s main powers are of protection from harm, power over spirits, and protection from witchcraft. Hang over your front door to protect your home and all its occupants, or hang a cross in each of the four corners of your home or apartment to keep out ghosts for good.
I should have some of these up for sale in the shop this week. If you are interested in making your own or God’s Eyes here are the best instructions I’ve found: God’s Eyes Instructions (pdf)