Day 270: Quick House Protections, part 1

A 17th-century intact Witch bottle with its x-rayed contents.

A 17th-century intact Witch bottle with its x-rayed contents.

Witch bottles are a very old form of folk magic, and might possibly date back to Ancient Greece.  We definitely know that they were actively used in the 17th century, which is when the oldest complete Witch Bottle found dates to.  This bottle was found in 2009 buried upside-down in Greenwich, England.  CT scans and chemical analysis, along with gas chromatography conducted by Richard Cole of the Leicester Royal Infirmary, reveal the contents of the bottle to include human urine, brimstone, 12 iron nails, eight brass pins, hair, possible navel fluff, a piece of heart-shaped leather pierced by a bent nail, and 10 fingernail clippings.  A very attractive bouquet, to be sure.

The point of Witch Bottles–at least in the 17th century through today–is to trap and dissipate negative energy that is focused on a particular person or place.  Of course, back in the day, they were meant to be anti-witch devices.  An Old Bailey court record from 1682 documents that a husband, believing his wife to be afflicted by witchcraft, was advised by a Spitalfields apothecary to “take a quart of your Wive’s urine, the paring of her Nails, some of her Hair, and such like, and boyl them well in a Pipkin.”  Today, we tend to broaden the application.

As you may have gathered from the contents of these old witch bottles, the idea behind them was to make them enough like the person/thing under negative attack that the negative energies would be drawn to the bottle.  Once there, however, the energies would be greeted by all manner of dangerous things–the nails, pins, sulfur, broken glass, old razors, etc.  These would act to fix and to shred the energy until it dissipated.  When these bottles were made to protect specific people, obviously cuttings of their hair and nails as well as their bodily fluids would be added to the bottle.  Sometimes vinegar and or red wine were added to the mix, as were various herbs or other symbolic tokens–such as the heart-shaped scrap of leather with a pin struck through it in the Greenwich bottle.  If a place were to be protected, dirt from the property might be an appropriate addition, as might  few paint scrapings, brick chips, vegetation taken from the property, etc.

Alas, I shall not actually be making up a witch bottle today, for I am not under psychic attack and the house I live in now is not my own.  V. and her husband own it, and they’ve already got their Roma charms in place.  These, however, are Roderick’s instructions:

What You’ll Need:

  • An empty clear-glass jar
  • Old razors, rusty nails, pins, needles, and tacks (enough to fill the jar)
  • Vinegar

You won’t need to cast a circle to prepare this magical object.  After dark, fill an empty, clear glass jar with razors, nails, pins, needles, tacks, and any other small, sharp, metal object.  If any of the items that fill the jar are rusty, that is all the better.  Now pour vinegar into the jar until nearly full.  Men who prepare this bottle can add semen for additional strength.  Women can add menstrual blood for added potency.  Close the jar and seal it tight.

Traditional witches claim that it is best for you to bury the jar beneath the front steps of your home.  However, in actual practice, it is just as effective for you to bury the jar anywhere in the vicinity of your dwelling.  As long as the bottle is buried, evil sent to you will be deflected.


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