Witch Bottles & Other Artefacts

faith2faith

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It kind of upsets me that the word "witch" is always and automatically associated with "evil." I used to be a New Ager, but recently have been getting more into paganism and especially witchcraft.

I, too, used to think witchcraft is about casting manipulative spells and evil curses, and I'm sure there are some black sheep who do that, but all the books I've read so far don't indicate anything like it.

Basically, witchcraft/Wicca is about honoring Mother Earth, the Goddess and the God as dual expressions of the Divine Source, doing benevolent rituals and spells, herbology, healing, etc.

In fact, Wicca has very strict rules that forbid witches to harm anyone (it's also made abundantly clear that everything you send out will come back to you threefold).

So I think that this automatic association of the "wicked witch" might be the remnants of the inquisition and the Catholic church's attempt to demonize all pagan religions and their adherents.

For the same reason, the "horned god" of the pagans, Cernunnos, who is also described as the hunter and protector of the woods and wildlife (hence the horns) was turned by the Church into the Devil with horns, cloven hoofs, etc.

Also for the same reason, the Church put chapels and such on top of most sacred pagan sites all through Europe, and replaced the Goddess with the "Madonna." They did this to appease the pagan peasants and give them something similar to believe in that would make for a smooth transition.

BTW, those "precautions" against evil spells or the evil eye ARE actually witchcraft themselves -- kind of funny how that works, eh? ;)
 

miss_scarlet

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TheQuixote said:
BBCi 28/1/04

I'm still on the look out for a naturally holed flint. Very effective against people trying to use witchcraft against you and every time I go to a beach I spend most of the time sorting through pebbles, rather than building sandcastles.:D

Does anyone else have any related info or tales on protective customs or superstitions?

.............................................................................................


I have got loads of flint hag stones, you make me feel a little guilty!
 

rynner2

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'Witch bottle' containing finger nails, hair and pins discovered
A 17th century "witch bottle" used to rid the sick of evil spells has been found intact, containing finger nail clippings, hair and pins.
By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
Published: 7:00AM BST 04 Jun 2009

Around 200 witch bottles have been found in the past but this is thought to be the first time one with its contents intact has been discovered.

Scientists have analysed the contents of the former wine jug after it was discovered by builders redeveloping a site in Greenwich, south east London.

They found it contained a number of pins, finger nails and hair as well as a liquid – discovered to be urine.

Burial of vessels holding personal items, typically from someone suffering an illness and believing themselves persecuted by a witch, was a common practice in the 17th century.

The belief was that the act would reflect the spell back at the witch who would then be forced to relinquish it. The pins and nails were thought to act like pins in voodoo dolls.

Analysis of the contents showed the patient was a smoker and probably quite wealthy judging by the length of the finger nails, the researchers told British Archaeology.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstop ... vered.html

(With pics)

Longer article here:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 426318.ece
 

Frideswide

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Nice project :) Useful "rules" for if we find one

MOLA also gives instructions to anyone who finds a witch bottle on their premises, and they’re keen to hear from you if you do:


  • ‘Witch bottles’ are covered by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, so most importantly, please contact your local Finds Liaison Officer based at your county museum and await their advice.
    Treat it as an archaeological find: if you can, please don’t move it – keep it in situ until it has been validated and reported. Record the position it was found in, take photographs and resist cleaning it.
  • Similarly if it is corked or stoppered then please don’t remove this. As described, a bottle may have contents.
  • If it has already been moved or un-stoppered in the past, we would still be really interested in hearing about it.
  • Report your find to the ‘Bottles Concealed and Revealed’ team
    → By email, at [email protected]
    → On Twitter or Facebook, by tagging @MOLArchaeology and using the hashtag #WitchBottleHunt
 

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I'm fond of poking about in the archives for fortean snippets, and I found something that mentions a witch bottle made of metal (that's a new one on me, I thought they were always glass or pottery).

Suffolk. Superstitions in 1849.
A case has just occurred (says the Ipswich Express), at a village a few miles from Rayleigh, which shows that if witches and their familiars have fled from the land in a fright at the rough handling of science, the mental cobwebs beneath which they flourished have not been yet quite brushed away. A girl in the village had been long subject to fits, and as family consultations and councils traced the mysterious malady to witchcraft, "a cunning man," celebrated thereabouts, was called in to counterplot the mischievous old hag, who was supposed to be squatted in some dark corner, muttering her spells and enjoying the writhings of her victim.


The conjuror, of course, undertook the job for a consideration, and immediately set the village blacksmith blowing and beating away to manufacture an air-tight iron bottle. After a sharp struggle with the arts of the doomed witch, who kept maliciously poking flaws and fissures in the hissing metal; this was completed, and being filled with the parings of the patient's toe-nails, locks of her hair, and fluid, was placed over a roaring fire, chained fast to the grate as additional security against the tricks of the imps who were believed to be hovering in dozens and in terror around it.

This charm was to blow the offending witch through the air at a quicker rate than she ever travelled upon her own broom-stick, or bring her to the hearth-stone pleading for forgiveness; but of course we can understand without being very deeply read in the occult science, that the spirit of steam would begin to grow rather fidgetty at being shut up in an air-tight iron bottle; so at last, without waiting for the appearance of the expected old lady, he jumped out with a loud explosion, blowing away the grate-bars and the fire. This was expected to do the girl good.
Northern Star and Leeds General Advertiser, 31st March 1849.


I guess a bit of theatre was just what was needed. Though being covered in wee-steam and shrapnel might have been a bit much for the onlookers. A bit more spectacular than just shoving it in the wall / floor though. And interesting that it comes from Suffolk perhaps, with its historical associations with witchcraft (though whether such things were really more prevalent there than anywhere else I don't know).
edit - sorry, Rayleigh's in Essex isn't it.
 
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His Extremely DeLux Self

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I helped construct and activate a Witch Bottle, for safeguarding an embattled spiritual retreat space, in 1990 or 1991 (my memory ain't what it used to be).

Specifically, the place was a sanctuary and retreat spce for gay men of a particular spiritual bent, influences from Paganism, New Agery, hippie counterculture and radical gay politics. It had been held and dwelled in by gay communard types since the early 1970s, and at that time the place hosted a lot of spiritual gatherings.

There were some problems with certain of the neighbors--there were some serious redneck types among them, who were sincerely opposed to the idea of having "faggot witches" living around them. These weren't just loudmouthed oafs; some of them were well-known violent and aggressive, well-armed louts; one of our guys got ratpacked by three of these guys and beat up pretty badly, someone else's truck got lit on fire, and they (the bad guys)trucks onto the property one day, shooting handguns in the air and spinning donuts and yelling epithets and threats. The men of our retreat were, naturally, pissed-off and scared shitless.

So, a committee was formed (consisting of myself and the three or four others in attendance with reputations for occult interests and some experience with sorcerous practice) to do something about it.

We decided to set up a magical force field around the retreat space, and since the other gentlemen in attendance wanted to be involved, we designed our working to include whoever wanted to be.

Yes, I'm getting to the point! What we did for the 36 hours between just then and our scheduled ritual was set to up pee collection stations consisting of white plastic buckets, at points around the property, so everyone who wanted to add some pee to our effort could do so. When the appointed hour came along, us "designated witches" fummelled the collected urinations into a five gallon glass jug. We then added all sorts of pertinent shit: twists of barbed wire, shards of mirrors and broken bottles, a pint of War Water I had brewed, chunks of Dragon Blood incense resin, a few different Seals Of Mars, some lead for the Saturnine aspect, thornbush branches and cat claws and dog teeth and seashells snake skin and snake bones and a couple of bottles of Anna Riva hoodoo oil -- I think they were Black Cat and Red Devil.

Anyways. We charged this noxious draught with magical intent and sealed it with a cork and a lot of black wax. Then my good friend Chorale (since deceased) dug a nice big hole and buried it quite deep.

Was it effective? Well, I like to think so, of course. And for what it's worth (can't prove a negative!), we weren't bothered by hostile hick neighbors for the duration -- indeed, local yokels quit bothering with the "fag farm" and there were no incidences for years afterward.

Our witchin' jug is still there, as far as I know.
 

Bad Bungle

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I helped construct and activate a Witch Bottle, for safeguarding an embattled spiritual retreat space, in 1990 or 1991 (my memory ain't what it used to be).
I saw a few Witch Bottles in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle (Cornwall) - may I assume from your post that the bottles were largely used as a defense by witches, rather than a defense against witches ?
 

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A more recent news item.

‘Witch Bottle’ Filled With Teeth, Pins and Mysterious Liquid Discovered in English Chimney


The charms were designed to ward off witches, but new research suggests they had medical uses as well

Source: smithsonianmag.com
Date: 1 November, 2019

Contractors demolishing the chimney of a former inn and pub in Watford, England, recently chanced upon a creepy surprise: namely, a bottle full of fish hooks, human teeth, shards of glass and an unidentified liquid. As BBC News reports, the 19th-century vessel is likely a witch bottle, or talisman intentionally placed in a building to ward off witchcraft.

The newly discovered bottle is one of more than 100 recovered from old buildings, churchyards and riverbanks across Great Britain to date. Most specimens trace their origins to the 1600s, when continental Europe was in the grips of a major witch panic. Common contents found in witch bottles include pins, nails, thorns, urine, fingernail clippings and hair.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smar...-possibly-urine-discovered-chimney-180973448/
 

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A further related article.

Witch bottle with a Halloween link is Object of the Week

With Halloween just a few days away, today’s Object of the Week features an item with links to the supernatural.

Source: thenorthernecho.co.uk
Date: 26 October, 2019

ON display at Preston Park Museum is a curious and rather elegant green glass bottle. It has an elongated neck, silver stopper and a painted decoration of Stockton’s Crest, a Castle and Anchor. It also has the following inscription on the back: "This Bottle was found on the cupola of the Towns House Stockton upon Tees Repaired July 84."

The bottle is likely to date from either 18th or 19th century.

You would be forgiven for thinking it was simply a decorative object, however, its story is far more mysterious, with links to a paranormal past.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/17991352.witch-bottle-halloween-link-object-week/
 

Comfortably Numb

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From the Museum of London.

Sorcery on display: witch bottles

Source: museumoflondon.org.uk
Date: 28 October, 2018

As Hallowe’en nears, witchcraft is in the air- and on display. In 2018, we loaned seven mysterious and magical “witch bottles” to Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum for their exhibition Spellbound: Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft. Let’s peer inside these sorcerous vessels and see what they can tell us about magical beliefs, past and present.

The Museum of London’s collection includes several 17th century stoneware pots, found buried in sites across the city. In appearance, they’re much like the hundreds of examples of early modern pottery we hold- until you look inside. Each was found stoppered and filled with a bizarre assortment of objects including iron nails, lead shot, bundles of hair, and a heart-shaped piece of felt pierced with pins. Their contents mark them as “witch bottles”, magical talismans used by past Londoners to ward off spells or cure disease. When they were buried, they were probably also filled with a final, vital ingredient: the urine of the person who wanted protection.

https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover/sorcery-display-witch-bottles
 

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From Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

WITCH BOTTLE: BELLARMINE JAR

Physical description:Bellarmine Jar Witch Bottle - a brown ceramic jar with a face on the side, originally containing pins, hair, nail clippings, bird bones and a red (coral?) hand, now displayed separately in a glass-fronted box.

[...]

Original text by Cecil Williamson: 'An example of the famous bellarmine type jars and bottles much beloved by witches for use as spirit houses and hexing bottles. This one was found built into the wall of a bombed-out house in Plymouth in the Sutton Harbour area. The bottle was wax-sealed and the items within had been set in a dry hide, that is no liquid within the bottle. The items extracted can be seen in the glass covered box alongside. From the evidence to hand everything indicates that whereas the bottle is of considerable age, its filling and its concealment would have taken place between 1895 and 1912. None the less it is a good example of a west country witchcraft used for retribution magic most likely from an aggrieved employee against his or her employer or master if an apprentice.

https://museumofwitchcraftandmagic.co.uk/object/witch-bottle-bellarmine-jar/
 

His Extremely DeLux Self

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I saw a few Witch Bottles in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle (Cornwall) - may I assume from your post that the bottles were largely used as a defense by witches, rather than a defense against witches ?

Well, that one sure was. It is a versatile technique. Most traditional ones were indeed to protect against someone else's magical ill intent -- but then if someone needed a Witch Bottle, and had a practitioner make and install it for them, wouldn't that be a defense by and against Witch(es)?
 

EnolaGaia

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A new witch bottle (one of only about a dozen ever found in the USA) has been discovered in Virginia. It dates from the Civil War, and seems to have been buried by Union personnel from Pennsylvania.
Civil War era 'witch bottle' found under Virginia highway median

Researchers said a glass bottle found during an archaeological dig on a Virginia highway median is believed to be a Civil War era "witch bottle" designed to ward off evil spirits.

The William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research said the bottle was discovered during a 2016 archaeological dig for Civil War artifacts prior to a widening project for Interstate 64 in York County.

Joe Jones, director of the William & Mary Center for Archaeological Research, said the glass bottle was initially thought to be nothing more than a place to store loose nails.

"The Union troops were likely tasked with holding and repairing the fortification whenever they had reason to expect Confederate assault," Jones said. "They were building up a fortification, so we just assumed they needed a place to keep their nails and used a bottle."

He said further research was carried out on the finds from the dig and experts now believe the object was a "witch bottle" used by Union soldiers to ward off evil spirits during the war.

The university said people who feared they were under the influence of dark magic would bury a nail-filled bottle under their hearth with the intention of the heat from the hearth energizing the nails to break a magic spell.

The jug is now believed to be one of less than a dozen witch bottles discovered in the United States. Archaeologists in Britain have documented nearly 200 witch bottle discoveries.

"It's a good example of how a singular artifact can speak volumes," Jones said. "It's really a time capsule representing the experience of Civil War troops, a window directly back into what these guys were going through occupying this fortification at this period in time."
SOURCE: https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2020/0...r-Virginia-highway-median/8391579797319/?sl=3

RESEARCHERS' NEWS RELEASE (With More Details):
https://www.wm.edu/news/stories/202...n-highway-median-may-be-rare-witch-bottle.php
 
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Nemo

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Couple renovating 16th century farmhouse find creepy witchcraft den hidden under the staircase

There were odd shoes, various animal skulls, rusted gun barrels and what looked to be the half-eaten remains of a hat

A couple renovating an old country farmhouse have made a creepy discovery hidden under their staircase.

Lecturer Kerrie Jackson and her council worker husband Bleddyn had been busy restoring their 16th home in North Wales when they spotted a strange bundle stuffed into a void in the woodwork.

When the pair eventually managed to remove it they found it contained a number of odd shoes, various animal skulls, rusted gun barrels and what looked to be the half-eaten remains of a hat - items, it's thought, which were used in Late Medieval times to help ward off witches and demons.

"Bleddyn was working in the room next door when he saw something through a hole he'd made in the wall," said Kerrie, adding that the Grade II-listed Plas Uchaf in Denbigh had been in her husband's family for generations.

"The staircase had been built across a sealed up medieval doorway that once connected different parts of the house, and the void underneath it had become exposed by the repairs being carried on the old timber frame.

"It was very eerie to peer into the darkness and make out all the objects inside, and, initially, we could only see a couple of shoes through the rubble.
(c) WoL. '20.
 

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No photo of the creepy witchcraft den.
 

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Don't tempt me Stonedoggy!

I'm obsessed with finding a stone with a natural hole. I know they are not meant to have any luck unless you find it yourself. It's like looking for a four-leafed clover, in summer I can sit for hours on a lawn. Sad I know!:goof:
Try Hayling Island, i havefound many a stone witha natural hole on the beach there and have given them to people as good luck charms.
 

Souleater

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I have a 'Witch ball' which is supposed to ward off evil spirits, (i know its just an early fishing/crab pot float btw)
20210111_111158.jpg
 
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