Progressing on with a little bit of research to start my work for the easter holiday, I came across this theory of the witch bottles. They are these small devices or ‘traps’ used as protection of the evil spirits. The first mention of a witch bottle appears in the 17th century.
It has been a common custom in the early modern period to hide objects such as written charms, dried cats, horse skulls, concealed shoes and witch bottles in the structure of a building.
Folk magic contends that witch bottles protect against evil spirits and magical attack, and counteract spells cast by witches; they are countermagical devices, the purpose of which is to draw in and trap harmful intentions directed at their owners.
Researching these made it a prominent link to our idea of creating an installation involving the jars.
A traditional jar would be around 2 inches high created from blue or green glass.
A witch, cunning man or woman, would prepare the witch’s bottle. Historically, the witch’s bottle contained the victim’s (the person who believed they had a spell put on them, for example) urine, hair or nail clippings, or red thread from spirite traps.
In recent years, the witch’s bottle has taken on a nicer tone, filled with rosemary, needles and pins, and red wine. Historically and currently, the bottle is then buried at the farthest corner of the property, beneath the house hearth, or placed in an inconspicuous spot in the house. It is believed that after being buried, the bottle captures evil which is impaled on the pins and needles, drowned by the wine, and sent away by the rosemary.
Sometimes sea water or earth are used instead. Other types of witch bottles may contain sand, stones, knotted threads, feathers, shells, herbs, flowers, salt, vinegar, oil, coins, or ashes. A similar magical device is the “lemon and pins” charm.
Another variation is within the disposal of the bottle. Some witch’s bottles were thrown into a fire and when they exploded, the spell was broken or the witch supposedly killed.
The witch bottle was believed to be active as long as the bottle remained hidden and unbroken. People did go through a lot of trouble in hiding their witch bottles – those buried underneath fireplaces have been found only after the rest of the building has been torn down or otherwise disappeared. The origins of this tradition have been dated at least to the 16th century. In ancient times the bottles were made of stone and originally contained rusty nails, urine, thorns, hair and menstrual blood, and pieces of glass, wood, and bone.
I came across instructions in creating a traditional witch bottle however straight away i was put off when reading you would have to add either menstrual blood or seaman. This straight away thinking of the idea made me a bit squeamish, I think that is just a step too far but whatever the tradition states it must be true. But that just makes me want to stop there with this post. However i think this would be great to try and recreate one of these bottles within the holidays, but using a different set of instructions and maybe creating one using the rosemary and wine. Another part of me thinks i should not mess with these traditions, because what if i have done it wrong, would something come and haunt me and create a curse over me?.
Here are the set of instructions i came across anyway, if any of you want to have a go at this traditional witch bottle.
A witch bottle remains active so long as it remains sealed and un-buried.
To make a traditional witch bottle
Bent needles or pins (both better)
Small bit of your own food left to go mouldy
Dead insect / spider (optional although you must not kill it must be found dead)
Your own hair (pubic best as well as armpit hair use two together for best result)
Your Nail clippings (finger and toe)
Your Semen or menstrual blood
Pinch of earth (grave dust from a family grave best NB you must never dig dirt from grave yard the dust from top of headstone is enough)
Good paper (parchment etc)
Black ink or Dragons blood ink
Red cotton (you can knot to add some extra weight to spell)
The timing for this spell is the dark moon (the 3 day period around the new moon although women will have to adjust to meet the cycle)
Cast a circle with salt and cense the space call your elements / gods as you would for any ritual.
You will then need to purify the bottle and remove any negativity before you start building the witch bottle use you smudge stick insuring that smoke get is into the bottle.
While saying (create your own words for more personal result)
Empty space filled with darkness I bring you light to grant me protection from this night. I summon the light, I call the power trap all harm sent to me.
On the paper write your name(S) date of birth, sigils, astrological signs anything that represent you smear Semen or menstrual blood on the paper draw a circle around and place in bottle.
Start adding the other items to fill the jar about half way saying. Insects from beneath a rock, needles, nails rusting fast,, Keep all harm inside and locked, within this dungeon made of glass.
Now pee into the bottle so it is full.
At this part you will need to state your intentions for the bottle ie ,
I have created this bottle in the sight of the gods so no harm can befall me no curse or hex will land on me all negativities send will be delivered to this bottle. Use the candle to seal the bottle rap in black cloth and close the ritual in your normal way then take bottle into garden and bury in the furthest part of your garden that you can pour any remain libations over and leave remember unless it dug up or it opens it will remain active.
However all in all i could actually create a replica but using my artistic input within this to make it look visually like witch bottle but not using the ingredients to create the spell itself. I don’t really want to mess around with spells and curses, even though it would be more in depth knowledge to do so, I’m just scared of the consequences.
I could replicate these 2 images buy using the wax, string and sand to create something magical visually.