Safeguards against the Witch.
CROSSES made of "rawn-tree" (rowan, mountain ash) were placed over the doors of all the houses of a farm on Lammas day (August 1st, O.S.) at noon. This ceremony had to be gone through by the one that did it without the knowledge of any one, and without the utterance of a word to any one that might be met. (Tyrie.) In Strathdon pieces of "rawn-tree" were put into every byre on the Reed day"—Rood day—(May 2nd, O.S.) by the goodman after sunset. This had to be done in secret.
Pieces of it were placed over the stable door to prevent the witches from entering to take out the horses for their midnight rides. (Strathdon, Corgarff.)
On Beltane eve a cross made of rowan tied with red thread was placed in each opening in the walls of the byre. Next morning the crosses were tied to the tails of the animals when they were driven to the grazing grounds on the hills, and each "hird" received a rowan wand to drive them. My informant told me that on one occasion when the "hirds" were driving home. their cattle they were obliged to leave a weakly one behind them. After housing the animals the "hird" to whose care the animal was committed set out to bring it home. An old man called him back, gave him a rowan club with a cross cut on the end of it, and told him everything would now go well. (J. Farquharson, Corgarff.)
- See Folkore of the North-East of Scotland, pp. 71, 188, 189, 192.