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Protection (Witch) Bottles


Author: Michael Erwin


Witch Bottles


This form of “bottled spell” dates back hundreds of years, and was prevalent in Elizabethan England, where superstitions and belief in witches were strong. Black magic was believed to be the cause of illness, ruined crops, loss of livestock and other hardships. These bottles were intended to confuse the sender of magical energy into believing they found their target, thus keeping the family safe from harm.


The bottles were most often found buried or placed upside-down near the entrance to the house, under the fireplace, under the floor, or plastered inside walls. The Witch bottle was believed to be active as long as the bottle remained hidden and unbroken. People did go though 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 1500s. In medieval times the bottles were stoneware from the Netherlands and Germany, called “Greybeards” or “Bartmann” jugs and could be up to nine inches tall.


The earliest complete bottle ever found was the Greenwich Witch Bottle, found intact in England. X-rays and other testing showed clumps of human hair, bent nails, human nail clippings, a small piece of leather in a heart shape, which was pierced by a nail, sulfur, belly-button lint and urine. More than 200 witch bottles have already been discovered, but this is thought to be the first one with its cork intact. Dr Alan Massey, a retired chemistry lecturer from Loughborough, analyzed the contents of the bottle after it was found buried upside-down at a depth of about 5ft by builders at a site in Greenwich, south-east London, in 2004. Like most early witch bottles, it was a bartmann or bellamine, a salt-glazed jar made in the Netherlands or Germany, stamped with the face of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino (1542–1621). It probably dates from the last quarter of the 17th century, and contained 12 bent iron nails (one of which pierced a small leather heart), eight brass pins, 10 adult fingernail pairings (not from a manual worker, but a person “of some social standing”), a quantity of hair and urine with traces of nicotine, indicating it had come from a smoker. There were also traces of sulphur, then known as brimstone, and what is thought to be navel fluff. The brimstone recalled the passage in Revelation where the beast and the false prophet were “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone”. Before this discovery, the best example, a glass bottle buried after 1720 in Reigate, Surrey, had been opened years before it could be examined. The bottles were used to cure the sick by turning spells on the witch. The practice continued into the early 20th century.


We can create a modern Witch bottle using some of these ancient techniques as well as some modern ingredients to help keep our homes protected from magical attacks. Some of the ingredients are optional and can be added within the privacy of our homes.


Protection bottle ingredients:

Nails / Hooks / Sharp objects - general protection

Amber - absorbs negative energy and protects against disease

Tangled ball of thread - to confuse and torment the sender

Slippery elm - halts gossip

Clove buds – general protection

Basil - protection of the house

Stinging Nettles - creates protective barrier

Caraway - prevents theft

Rue - breaks hexes

Black salt - creates protective barrier

Dill - keeps away envious people

Sulfur – historical ingredient

Leather Heart – historical ingredient

Urine / Fingernail clippings / Hair / Belly-button lint - binds negative energy


Be sure and draw some protective symbols on the outside of your bottle, runes, pentagrams, Thor’s Hammer, whichever you see fit. After you add any additional ingredients at home, seal your bottle with candle wax, black or red if possible. Create sacred space in whichever way you wish, hold your bottle in your right hand, visualize your intent and chant three times out loud: “With bottle in hand and circle round, A spoken spell for all around, By earth and air, fire and flood, With thy might and ancient blood, Protect my home and all within With this chant the magic shall begin” Bury your bottle (upside down if you wish) near the porch, or hide in a space that it will never be found.

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