Aspen has been traditionally reputed in many countries to drive off evil spirits, hence it was often planted near the dwellings. According to an Eastern Slavic apocryphal legend, Judas Iscariot hanged himself on an aspen tree, hence its leaves have been trembling with horror ever since. The species does not grow in the Middle East, so this legend obviously has local syncretic origins.
An aspen stake was believed to be one of the few weapons suitable to kill a vampire or a werewolf. By the same token, a bigger stake could be driven into the grave of a person condemned to damnation, so as to prevent them from rising from the dead.