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