Since almost as long as Magick and witchcraft have been around, people have tried to find a way to cast it themselves or protect themselves from its use against them. This was certainly the thought process during Elizabethan England, where there are over 250 recorded findings of items called witch or spell bottles but what are they?
Well, a witch bottle is a device used to protect a property, establishment or home and the people in it from curses, and bad negativity sent their way from a wielder of magick. It does this by absorbing, trapping and banishing the magick cast against them. A spell bottle is much like a witch bottle but is used for the opposite, it is used to cast a spell or curse on a specific property, home or family. We often associate them more with the UK but some have been found in colonial America.The earliest known recording of a witch bottle comes from the book SADUCISMUS TRIUMPHITUS written by Joseph Glanvill in 1681, but the actual bottles go back to around the 1500’s the passage reads …
“He therefore advised him to take a Bottle, and put his Wives Urine into it, together with Pins and Needles and Nails, and Cork them up and set the Bottle to the Fire well corkt, which when it had felt a while the heat of the Fire began to move and joggle a little, but he for sureness took the Fire shovel, and held it hard upon the Cork, And as he thought, he felt something one while on this side, another while on that, shove the Fire shovel off, which he still quickly put on Again, but at last at one shoving the Cork bounced out, and the Urine, Pins, Nails and Needles all flew up, and gave a report like a Pistol, and his Wife continued in the same trouble and languishment still. Not long after, the Old Man came to the house again, and inquired of the Man of the house how his Wife did. Who answered, as ill as ever, if not worse. He askt him if he had followed his direction. Yes, says he, and told him the event as is above said. Ha, quoth he, it seems it was too nimble for you. But now I will put you in a way that will make the business sure. Take your Wive’s Urine as before, and Cork, it in a Bottle with Nails, Pins and Needles, and bury it in the Earth; and that will do the feat. The Man did accordingly. And his Wife began to mend sensibly and in a competent time was finely well recovered.”
So how where they made? As stated in the passage above they were bottles filled with a specific set of items depending on what is was going to be used for. Firstly the bottle, originally it was pottery, often salt glaze and one of either Baartman jugs, Bellarmine jugs or jugs known as Grey beards named for the bearded man embossed into it. Of course now we use glass jugs and bottles. The contents were often specific to the spell or protection needed but common items included
Sharp Objects or pins to trap the curse or negativity
A liquid of either consecrated wine or water or as stated in the passage urine to drown it
A banishing item usually a herb like rosemary to send the curse away
Any other warding items which could be charms artefacts or personal items like hair from the witch that cast the curse on you
Salt was also a common item to get rid of negativity, and spell bottles would be made of the same but would exclude sharp items as you want the spell to go without obstacle. Once either bottle had been made you needed to bury it in the corner of the property or if possible beneath the hearth, if neither was viable you could also hide it in a place in the property you wouldn't find it, in the dark and forgotten for it to do it’s job. When the time came to end the spell, like when moving house the way to dispose of the bottle was through fire and it is said that if the bottle popped, the person who cursed the property would die. If it was a spell bottle it would end the spell.
#magick #witchbottle #spellbottle
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