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Witch Bottles of Folklore

It’s Witchy Wednesday the Halloween/Samhain countdown continues with Witch Bottles of Folklore.

What are they? What are they used for?

Witch Bottles would immediately gobsmack any oncoming witch or warlock with terror, spotting witch bottles in a house’s window could send a witch to take flight. The targeted spell would immediately return to sender and inflict them with terrible pain.

The Bellarmine Witch bottles were also called “Greybeards” or “Bartmann jugs” that were stoneware that was salt glazed. Bellarmine was named after Catholic Inquisitor, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine.

 This witch bottle in photo below was discovered in Greenwich, it is called the “Bellarmine Witch Bottle.” Jug 1650. (Public domain)

330px-Bellarmine_jug00

Witch Bottles were quite fashionable during the 16th and 17th century in England and North America. Witch bottles were used to protect folks, their livestock and property.

Witch bottles usually contained human tissue such as a fingernail and excrement like urine a bit yucky yet essential for the proper spell ingredients. This custom began in Germany at the time of the Protestant Reformation when folks were so terrified of the infamous devil mentioned in the Bible as Lucifer. One never knew if he was just around the corner. Rumors of black magic were rife among the folk,their clergy played this dogma of fear so much it lead to the Witch trials of Europe, Iceland and the New World. English settlers  traveled on ships bound for the New World with their witch bottles with them.

One such case from the Old Bailey in London chronicles a husband that testifies his wife was the target of a local witch. Judges at this time and because of the successful Christian scare tactics took witchcraft as a serious crime. This particular Judge was empathetic to the husband and advised that he drop by his local apothecary to craft a witch bottle to return the curse back on the witch who first cast the spell upon the man’s wife.

Witch bottles were also used by Cunning folk to aid in healing an ill person. Herbs such as rosemary, myrrh, frankincense and mugwart or a love spell or good luck.

Witch Bottles were quite fashionable during the 16th and 17th century in England and North America. Witch bottles were used to protect folks, their livestock and property.

Witch bottles usually contained human tissue such as a fingernail and excrement like urine a bit yucky yet essential for the proper spell ingredients. This custom began in Germany at the time of the Protestant Reformation when folks were so terrified of the infamous devil mentioned in the Bible as Lucifer. One never knew if he was just around the corner. Rumors of black magic were rife among the folk,their clergy played this dogma of fear so much it lead to the Witch trials of Europe, Iceland and the New World. English settlers  traveled on ships bound for the New World with their witch bottles with them.

One such case from the Old Bailey in London chronicles a husband that testifies his wife was the target of a local witch. Judges at this time and because of the successful Christian scare tactics took witchcraft as a serious crime. This particular Judge was empathetic to the husband and advised that he drop by his local apothecary to craft a witch bottle to return the curse back on the witch who first cast the spell upon the man’s wife.

Witch bottles were also used by Cunning folk to aid in healing an ill person. Herbs such as rosemary, myrrh, frankincense and mugwart or a love spell or good luck.

Here is a Spell for Good Luck,

ingredients:

Clover

Lavender

Cloves

Blue ribbon

Orange candle

By the Blue of the Air, Water, Earth and Fire

By the Orange  Hunter’s Moon grant my desire. So mote it be.

Repeat 3 times and leave in the moonlight on a table or shelf.  Give thanks.

1200px-Bellarmine_Stoneware_Witch_Bottle

Above photo Wikimedia Commons. Contemporary Bellarmine Stoneware Witch Bottle From Mal Corvus Witchcraft & Folklore artefact private collection owned by Malcolm Lidbury (aka Pink Pasty) in Public Domain

Source & Reference:

Hoggard, Brian (2004), “The Archaeology of Counter-Witchcraft and Popular Magic“, in Davies, Owen; De Blécourt, William (eds.), Beyond the Witchtrials: Witchcraft and Magic in Enlightenment Europe, Manchester University Press, ISBN 978-0-7190-6660-3

Illes Judika, (2004) Element The Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells ISBN 13-978-0- 00- 716465 s

Pennick, Nigel. Secrets of East Anglian Magic. London: Robert Hale, 1995

Daily Mail UK https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1190722/Archeologists-unearth-17th-century-stone-flask-buried-380-years-ago-ward-witches.html#socialLinks

 

 

 

Mabon Celtic Folklore

Happy Mabon!

The Wheel of The Year has turned once more to Mabon is the time of the second Harvest also known as Cornucopia.

The wheel of the year
According to Welsh folklore Mabon is the god of youth, his name means “Divine son.”
He is the son of Modron meaning, ‘Divine Mother.’

This is the time of celebration and thanks as the second harvest is reaped.

It is also the time of the Autumn Equinox. A time to be grateful to the deities for fertile crops.

Mabon is celebrated during the Autumn Equinox  around September 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere  and Mabon is observed approx. March 22nd in the Southern Hemisphere.

Please Check online for your specific time, date and region as it may fluctuate each year. 

light landscape sky sunset
Photo by Pixabay 

In Wiccan traditions it commemorates the time when the Sun King plummets into the netherworld from which he will be reawakened at Yule.

It is a famous myth for mid-harvest based on life, death and rebirth.

Persephone, Hades & Demeter:

This lore represents the six months of winter and rebirth in the Spring including the six months growing season.

According to Greek mythology, Hades the god of the underworld spotted Demeter’s attractive daughter one day and decided to take her to his palace in the underworld.

Demeter was known as the grain goddess of the harvest and she was very protective of her young daughter. Hades knew Demeter would never approve of him marrying Persephone so he made in private arrangements with Zeus. Persephone’s father.

Next Hades abducted Persephone and carried her to his subterranean palace.

Demeter noticed her daughter’s disappearance and scoured the earth for her.

She was very frustrated and sad over the loss of Persephone so much so she began to shed tears. Her grief had caused all the crops of on earth to die and become dormant.

Meanwhile, Persephone an ancient death goddess whose name means “destroying face”  ate from the fruit of the dead six pomegranate seeds picked from Hades underworld garden. The consequence of this was  that Persephone had to spend six months each year underground with Hades.

It’s not all bad, she was able to return home to her mother Demeter each Spring and visit for six months on earth. Persephone and her mother Demeter govern the Mysteries at Eleusis, the popular mystery of the ancient world. They are the “most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece.” Their basis was an old agrarian cult, and there is some evidence that they were derived from the religious practices of the Mycenaean period. 

330px-Frederic_Leighton_-_The_Return_of_Persephone_(1891)

The return of Persephone, by Frederic Leighton(1891)

In modern times Druids celebrate Alban Elfed a time of  balancing dark and light. Some Other Norse pagans celebrate the fall equinox as ‘Winter Nights’ festival that is sacred to Freyr the Norse god of  rain, sun, harvest, peace and prosperity. He is the goddess Freyja’s brother and is a Vanir god once popular in old Sweden.

To celebrate Mabon, one may give thanks for what they have and honor your ancestors.

Time to reflect on the balance within our own lives. Honor the light and the darkness. Wiccans and Neo-Pagans may revere the Dark goddess it may be Hecate, Demeter, Persephone or Kali. 

The Celtic dark Triple goddess The Morrighan now transforms into her CRONE expression wielding her scythe to reap the harvest, later she retreats into her wintry shadow until the Spring returns once more.

Provide a feast for like-minded friends and family. Give to your local Food Bank to help feed those less fortunate or your local  Animal shelter.

A nice touch is to set up an altar in honor of the goddess and god like the one below.

mabon altar

A lovely Mabon altar by Teresa Martens I Heart the goddess

Written by Nifty Buckles

Sources & References:

*Hutton, Ronald, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, Oxford, Blackwell, pp. 337–341, ISBN 0-631-18946-7

 *Starhawk (1979, 1989) The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. New York, Harper and Row ISBN 0-06-250814-8 

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