February 14, 2010

Making a witch bottle

Feeling run down, sick, or tired? Things not going your way at work or home? We enlightened modern folks would suspect a virus or just a run of bad luck, but earlier generations had another cause: witchcraft, usually emanating from a jealous neighbor.

To stop the witchcraft, they could try the legal system (at least in the 17th century) or confront the suspected witch. Sometimes, though, it was more effective to fight fire with fire. A bewitched person would fight evil magic with defensive magic of their own.

One form of magical defense was to make a witch bottle. As with so much folk magic, all you need are common household items.

Step 1: Locate an empty glass bottle.

Step 2: Fill the bottle with lots of sharp objects, like pins,
nails and broken glass.

Step 3: Fill the bottle with the bewitched person's urine.

Step 4: Seal and bury the bottle.

The bewitched person's ailments should clear up after this.

Here's the theory behind a witch bottle. A malevolent witch hurts someone by creating a connection between themself and their victim. The witch's spirit (or part of it) then travels along this connection to do harm to their victim's body. However, a witch bottle deflects the witch's spirit away from the actual body to a product of the body (the urine), and into the pins, nails and broken glass. Ouch! The witch's spirit is injured by this and retreats, breaking the connection.

Some witch bottle recipes recommend heating the bottle over a fire until it explodes. This is a bad idea - don't try it at home! An explosion of glass, nails and boiling hot urine is just as dangerous as a witch's curse.

Increase Mather wrote against the use of witch bottles, but his son Cotton thought there were times when their use was justified.


オテモヤン said...


Karen Chace said...

Hi Peter,

I love your blog. I am a professional storyteller so your writing is gold to me. You can visit my blog if you like as well at www.storybug.net then click on Karen's blog.

I would like to highlight your blog in my newsletter if that is okay. Let me know.

If you like stories you may be interested in the MassMouth Story slams held in Boston. One is coming up this Monday,
February 22. If you need more info email me at storybug@aol.com or leave a message on my blog.

Hope to hear from you.
Karen Chace

Richie Benaud said...

Really a nice post, thank you.

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Rich Clabaugh said...

Thanks for posting Peter! Using magic to fight magic? Why not?

Peter Muise said...

Hi Rich! It's a good use for those old pickle jars.