Witch Bottle


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Witch Bottle

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

There are two types of witch bottles, one used against "witchcraft" and the other used by Witches, even today, against any evil directed toward them.

The witch bottle used by Witches—and popular with many Wiccans—is made by filling a glass jar or bottle with sharp objects. Broken glass, pins, needles, nails, and screws, whether new or old and rusty, may be used. Pieces of a broken mirror are also an effective ingredient. The bottle is then filled with its maker's urine. If it is a woman making the bottle, then it is recommended that menstrual blood also be included. The top is sealed with wax or tape, and the filled bottle is then buried in the ground in a place where it is unlikely to be disturbed, at a depth that will protect it from any possible damage by frost. The belief is that as long as the bottle remains intact, any negativity directed at its maker will be reflected back by the bottle.

The witch bottles produced in the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries were to protect from supposed witchcraft attacks. Quite often the local blacksmith manufactured a special metal bottle, although pottery and glass were also used. The bottle was brought into play when someone felt he or she had been the object of a curse or black magic. The person filled the bottle with urine, perhaps adding nail clippings and hair, and sometimes iron nails. He or she then buried the bottle or threw it into a fire, where it would heat up and explode. At the explosion, the perpetrator of the evil supposedly would be badly burned, if not killed. Accusor's introduced such a bottle into the trial of Jane Wenham, of Walkerne, Hertfordshire, in 1712. The bottle exploded but Jane was not hurt. The very explosion, however, was taken as a sign of her guilt. Eric Maple makes mention of the many witch bottles that, over the ages, have been found buried under doorsteps or near the hearths of old cottages.

Cunning Man James Murrell, a local wise man of Rochford, Essex, in the early nineteenth century, often used witch bottles to cure people from the evil he claimed he found directed at them. He had the local blacksmith make the bottles out of iron. Fortunately the smith took the precaution of leaving a tiny opening in the bottle, for steam to escape. If it had not been for this, most of Murrell's clients, and Murrell himself, might have perished from the explosion of the bottle when it was tossed into a fire. When Murrell heard the hiss of escaping steam, he thought it was the spirit of the witch being driven out.

According to Discovery.com News, in October, 2000, British researchers came across a still-intact witch bottle underneath a house in Reigate, England. It was placed there in 1720. Two chemistry professors from Loughborough University, Alan Massey and Tony Edmonds, examined the contents and found nine brass pins, bits of clothing, animal hairs, human hairs, an insect leg, a blade of grass, and human urine. Brian Hoggard, a doctoral candidate studying folk magic at University College Worcester, said that witch bottles are "peculiarly English objects usually dating from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries." He added "The Reigate Witch Bottle is unusual because it is one of only a handful of bottles found with its contents intact."