What is a witch bottle? How do I make one? The Lore and Folk Magick Behind The Witches' Bottle. 103
• WHAT IS A WITCH BOTTLE? •
Being that we decided to include a witch bottle inside the 2016 Yule Sabbat Box, we only felt it appropriate to include a little history and lore behind their use and information on how to make one.
What is a witch bottle? Witch bottles are bottles filled with various objects and liquids of magickal potency that have been used for centuries in certain parts of Europe and early America as a form of protection or "counter magick" —a means to block and trap the harmful effects of witchcraft in different folk traditions. Witch bottles were also found to be used as amulets, meant to protect one's home or land against malice or disease.
To date, eight witch bottles have been found in the United States, the oldest witch bottle being from Pennsylvania, known as the Essington Witch Bottle. The Essington Witch Bottle was unearthed in 1976 during an excavation of Tinicum Island, on the Delaware River. It was found inverted, buried next to a home, and was filled with urine and pins. Why? It was believed to have been buried there to protect the land around it, and those who dwelled upon it. The reason urine would have been included in the witch bottle (and is still commonly included in witch bottles today, as well as menstrual blood and even semen) is because part of the idea of how a witch bottle works is by placing something from someone inside the bottle, it "attaches" the intent of the bottle with the owner or originator of the objects inside, and in this case it was the maker's urine. By using one's urine it was a way to make sure that the intent of the bottle was specifically attached to its maker, and not get mixed up with anyone else. It is believed that the Essington Witch Bottle was created sometime around the 17th or 18th century, and urinary problems were also common during these times, and it could have also been a way in which the Essington Witch Bottle's maker could have also been seeking protection from such ailments as well, thus the urine being included within.
It is quite evident from what historians believe, that the origination of this particular witch bottle's creators were most likely immigrants from Europe (or their descendants), meaning they would have had to of learned their folk magick practices from their elders back in the Old World, making the witch bottle one of the older forms of folk magick that was passed down and still used today.
It is the history and lore like the story of the Essington Witch Bottle above, in which folk magick and its practices stem from. Stories and legends like these are shared throughout the generations, and are added to or adapted, which in turn give us unique variations and traditions surrounding folk magick and its practice.
• HOW TO MAKE A WITCH BOTTLE •
It is believed that the original purpose of a witch bottle (when they were originally created) was for them to trap something (or someone). Witch bottles are a simple, yet powerful form of folk magick, and their contents and creation is only limited to your own intent and imagination.
Please note, the information below does not include specific step by step instructions on how to create a witch bottle, it only includes information that is meant to assist you in the process and to provide inspiration. It should also be said that in most magickal traditions it is common for one to...
- Ground and center before working magick.
- Ritually cleanse and purify your space (for instance, smudging) before working magick.
- Cast circle before working magick.
The very basic mechanics of creating a witch bottle are simple:
1. Choose a vessel or bottle you wish to use.
2. Gather the corresponding contents going inside.
3. Place your intent and purpose within the contents of the bottle. Also known as "charging" the contents.
4. Place the items inside the bottle that correspond to your intent and/or the person it is meant for.
5. Seal the bottle.
6. Place the bottle in its resting place.
The bottle that you choose can be anything that is hallow, can be filled and sealed. Glass or ceramic bottles or jars work fine. The size of the bottle is completely up to you, though you may want to stick with someone manageable since this will be either buried or stored within your home.
What you place inside your bottle can be items corresponding to the person or situation that you are attempting to influence. These contents used inside your bottle are chosen specifically for their known use, or how the object(s) relate to a situation or action. This attached purpose and meaning of the objects inside your bottle are what witches call a "correspondence." Correspondences are the very fabric that makes up many spells when working "low magick" or "folk magick." Most correspondences stem from history, legends or lore and can be symbolic, sympathetic or medicinal in nature.
So, for instance, you could add some cinnamon or thyme to your witch bottle if the intent is financial; lavender, small pieces of rose quartz, or a lock of your intended’s hair if love is what you’re after; maybe sage or salt water if the goal is purification or protection; even knotted string or black pepper to bind someone’s ill will against you. Again, the combinations and possibilities are up to you. See below for a list of a few more ideas on what to include in your witch bottle based on intent.
Another important component that is commonly used when creating witch bottles (and is almost as important as the actual bottle itself) are pins or nettles, either placed inside the bottle itself or stuck in the stopper or cork in order to “ward off” anyone (or anything) from disturbing the bottle. These items also served to trap your intent, if placed inside. Many of the historical witch bottles found to date had some sort of sharp “thorns” attached to them to ward off any curious hands. Be sure to include such when creating your bottle to insure your bottle is not harmed or touched if eventually found by someone.
Image by Amanda Z. via (Jumi of Diamonds)
Once your witch bottle is completed, the intent of your bottle is what usually depicts what one will do with it -or- where one may end up placing it...making this last step one of the most important when constructing your witch bottle.
• WHERE DO I PUT MY BOTTLE WHEN I AM DONE MAKING IT, AND WHY? •
PROSPERITY WITCH BOTTLES
Many believe that if the intent of your witch bottle is to draw things to you, or if you are trying to manifest something to happen for you personally, then you want to keep your completed witch bottle close to where you are. For instance, if your witch bottle is for manifesting prosperity, you may want to place your witch bottle in the very back of a kitchen cabinet, not to be disturbed (you know, behind that four year old jar of nutmeg that nobody uses, it will be really safe there). The intent here is that the bottle’s spell will continue to stay “in place” as long as the bottle is not disturbed. Since the kitchen is the heart of the home, the correlation between the heart of the home and the "heart's desires" makes for the prefect corresponding parallelism to hatch the spell and for the jar to serve its purpose. If at any point you decide to remove the bottle or feel that it is done serving its purpose, bury the bottle at the foot of a tree, returning its energies back into the earth. Be sure to thank the energies at work when you do.
COMMON PROSPERITY CORRESPONDENCES FOR A WITCH BOTTLE:
- Lottery ticket shavings
- Old pay stubs
- Clove, Rice, Salt
- Tiger's Eye/Aventurine
- Seal with the wax of a green or gold candle
PROTECTION WITCH BOTTLES
If the goal is the drum up protection, you may want to bury the witch bottle near the entry way of your home. Old folklore tells us it was common to bury protective witch bottles underneath the front steps of someone's house, for it was believed that the bottle would prevent maleficent or unwelcome entities from entering, only to trap them within the bottle. Some also believed that burying a witch bottle near the entryway to one's home kept wrong-doers or those trying to cause harm from crossing the home's thresholds. History tells us that witch bottles were also used to protect its maker(s) from harmful witchcraft that may be geared towards the makers of the bottle well.
COMMON PROTECTION CORRESPONDENCES FOR A WITCH BOTTLE:
- Black salt
- Rusty Nails
- Black Destroyer Oil
- Bent Pins
- Solomon's Seal
- Dragon's Blood
- Tourmaline, Carnelain
- Seal with the wax of a black candle
BANISHING, HEXING AND CURSING WITCH BOTTLES
If you are looking to banish, rid, hex or curse, you may choose to bury your witch bottle at a crossroads or near a stream of moving water. The idea here is that you are placing distance between yourself and the bottle. The reason as to why some may place their witch bottles at a crossroads is because crossroads are considered by many to be a place of magick and mystery, and the origin of such belief goes back to ancient Greek times. The Greeks believed that the crossroads represented and symbolized the joining of forces (man made, mystical and unseen). They believed that a crossroads also represented the balance of opposites and was a place in which time and space met, making the crossroads a place of transformation and change. Some also believe that crossroads is where pacts were made with certain entities or beings, adding to the lore of its surroundings. Ultimately, the crossroads, even in a mundane way, is a place of movement and change, making the crossroads a perfect corresponding place to have a spell manifest into a reality. If you are wanting to curse or banish, it would make sense to fill the bottle with a picture or representation of who the bottle is intended for (for example, a picture of that person, or something belonging to that person). It would also make sense to fill the bottle with unpleasent items, items of particular disdain, or things that the person you are making it for may not like.
COMMON HEXING & BANISHING CORRESPONDENCES FOR A WITCH BOTTLE:
- Lemon juice
- Rotton eggs, banana peels, sour milk
- Black Pepper/Red Pepper
- Thorns from a rose
- Dead flowers or weeds
- War water/black water
- A picture of the person ripped or torn apart
- Staples, pins, nails,
- An object owned by the person its for (i.e. hair from the person's brush)
- Hot foot powder
- Goofer dust
- Stinging nettle, wormwood, nightshade, devil's shoestring
- If binding someone, wrap the bottle completely in black twine or jute.
- Seal with the wax of a blood red or black candle (or both)
LOVE WITCH BOTTLES
If it is love you are looking to achieve with your witch bottle, you may consider burying it near a place in which both you and that person find desirable, in order to draw you both together (for example, the beach or near a mutual friends home).
COMMON LOVE CORRESPONDENCES FOR A WITCH BOTTLE:
- Perfume or cologne
- A love letter
- A picture of the person inside
- Rose petals
- Apple seeds, hibiscus, jasmine
- Rose Quartz
- Seal with the wax of a pink candle.
When it comes to creating a witch bottle, be creative, be mindful, and above all else, consider the matter handled once you are finished. This tradition among Pagans has a long history, and its effects can be quite powerful. Go with what feels right to you. Remember, magick is all about intent.
Care to share any of your ideas on how you like to make a witch bottle? What components do you use inside? Have you ever had any successes with your own witch bottles? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.
Are you looking for a witch bottle kit to make your own witch bottle? Check out the Sabbat Box Witch Bottle Kit at the Sabbat Box Store.