Rowan Berries and Red Thread

Rowan Berries and Red Thread are frequently used as a charm of protection. This book is out of print but if you can find a copy check out _Rowan Tree and Red Thread: a Scottish Witchcraft Miscellany of Tales, Legends and Ballads; Together with a Description of the Witches’ Rites and ceremonies_ by Thomas Davidson. The wood and berries of the Rowan, or Mountain Ash, have a long tradition in folklore. It is thought that when they turn black they are no longer useful.Once the berries are strung I take them out under a full moon and charge them with a protection chant.

Making the Strand

You will need:

  • fresh rowan berries 10 more than the number you think you need just in case some burst or tear
  • Red Thread. I use perl cotton. No need to worry about waxing the thread because the juice from berries does a very similar thing.
  • Very Sharp Needle

It is customary to string the rowan berries using magical numbers. 81 is a good number (3 x 3 + 3 x 3) but any number for your work is good. You can hang the strung berries from doorknobs, rearview mirrors, your neck, above a doorway or gate. You could put a little string of 9 in your pocket or an amulet pouch. The uses are only limited by your imagination.

You will need to pick the berries yourself. They generally begin ripening in August and if the birds leave you any you can find them well into September. I like to pick mine as close to Mabon as possible but it really depends on the summer weather as to when they are actually ready to pick. You want them firm and round. Clean the berries of all twigs and leaves, and in my case, bird poop. You can wash them or not.

Stringing the Berries

The berries can be very soft and will get even softer over time as they become over ripe so keep an eye on your tree (don’t forget to leave a blessing for the tree, I use tobacco). The sturdiest way to string them is to poke up through the center, beginning at the bottom “star” and coming out where the stem connects. The star, a five pointed one just like an apple, is what is left of the five petaled blossom last spring.

Just continue stringing until you get to the end. Tie a knot and you’re done. Easy Peasy.
I made lots this year, one for every one in the group and some left over for extras. I have them at my door, hanging from my Witches Calendar just inside my bedroom door, and from my car review mirror.
After making all those strands, I still had some left over. I popped these into the freezer just in case I need more later.
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