Witch Bottles Witch Bottles
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                      Witch Bottles


A little bit of broken glass, rusty nails, hair and fingernail clippings placed inside of a glass or ceramic bottle.  Sounds rather interesting don't it, but why would you do that?  What purpose does it serve?  What symbolism is trying to be conveyed?   


      What was just described is what is generally referred to as a Witch Bottle.  It is used mostly for protection and banishing, though I have personally used them for drawing and wish magick as well with great success.  Bottles such as these have been found in rivers and lakes dating from the Middle Ages, and closed up in walls into the present day.  The size and contents vary, but the purpose is the same, to banish evil, keep bad luck away, and to protect the home. 


      The rusty metal, such as nails, razor blades and wire, broken bits of glass and pottery, thorns from various plants, and anything else sharp and/or rusty are placed into the bottle to "keep away" whatever it is that you are trying to banish.  You want to make it as uncomfortable seeming as possible.  Add to that a lock of hair, fingernail clippings, a picture, or at the least a name on a piece of paper to that.  This now gives a connection to what you are banishing, be it a person or just bad luck.  Many instructions for making witch bottles say to use urine to fill the bottle, giving a bit of yourself to the power of it.  I feel this is entirely up to the person creating it.  If they are uncomfortable doing that, how effective will the overall spell be?  If they are worried about that and concentrating on that aspect, will it weaken the overall ritual?  Using water is just as effective, and much safer.  Also, some people feel it's necessary to use their own blood in the creation of these bottles.  Menstrual blood especially, is considered very powerful.  Again, I believe that is up to the person doing the ritual. Be aware of the dangers of using blood these days.  Never Share Blood!!  Hepatitis, AIDS, and various other lethal, preventable diseases can be spread by not thinking and being cautious.  Personally, I do not use blood, but mention it here because it is considered a traditional witch bottle ingredient.  If you do decide to use blood, be careful!


      Now for the bottle.  I use anything I can get my hands on; glass bottles in my area are rather cheap, so I use them.  I can get a small bottle that is perfectly sized for witch bottles at a local discount store for $1.00 US so that is what I use.  You could use any type of container that you like, as long as it'll hold liquid and can be sealed tightly.  Expensive bottles or ingredients are not needed or practical.  I wouldn't suggest using a bottle or jar that you are too attached to, unless it's a spell for household protection in general and plan to keep it as such forever.  And if the bottle/jar doesn't have a cork, you will need to seal it somehow.  Most use wax to seal it, which is good, but not permanent.  So I would suggest finding, at the local craft store, a cork that will fit it.  Then seal the cork with wax.   The wax can then be inscribed with a symbol that is appropriate for the ritual.  Sometimes I put my thumbprint into the wax, sealing it with the symbol only I have.  This will add a personal touch to the ritual, which can only help, not hurt. 


      As for the ritual...I think something solemn and meaningful to you is best.  Personally, my rituals are made up on the spot, quiet, full of movements and meditation.  I tend to do "mental picture" rituals rather than the more popular spoken ones.  Not to say my way is better, just different.  It also helps when you live in a Christian household where you are still in the "broom closet".  Use whatever ritual you wish to, but I do feel it is necessary to create sacred space where the ritual is planned.  Not only does it help put you into a frame of mind to do a ritual, it also helps charge the bottle.  As for the charging of the bottle, hold it in your hands, chant, sing, or even dance, concentrating on the desired outcome of the spell.  Feel the energy grow, filling the bottle, making it glow with that power.  When you feel you can do that no more, set the bottle down and release the remaining power, saying something to designate the end of the ritual such as "so mote it be". 


      Now you need to make a decision.  Do you keep the bottle where you can see it and continue to put energy into it?  Maybe place it in the attic or inside of the wall?  Or perhaps bury it outside, somewhere it will not be disturbed, for a very long time?  It really all depends on the type of spell performed, and again, the person performing it.  If you were protecting a house, you would want to keep it somewhere inside of the home, the closer to the center, the better.  But if you are trying to get rid of something such as bad luck, burying it away from the house is best.  You don't want that anywhere near you, right?  I tend to keep the bottles for a while in my house till I feel they are "ready" for the ground, usually when they banish the bad luck, or have begun to take effect.  You will know what is right, just look into yourself, feel it.  Your spirit will let you know what you should do.


      I feel I need to mention this before I leave you.  Please, do not use this to harm another person.  To keep them from harming you, yes...but not to harm them.  If you feel that threatened then you should get the police involved.  They are there to defend you, use them.  The person performing magick of any kind generally follows the three-fold law and the Wiccan rede, but I'll restate them anyways.  The Rede goes traditionally as "An it harm none, do as thou wilt" meaning do as you like, save that it does NOT harm anyone, including yourself.  That means no harm mentally, emotionally, physically...you get the idea.  It is up to every witch/pagan to interpret this law.  The Three-fold law states that everything you send out comes back to you times three, whether it's good or bad.  It might not come back right away, but it will.  I think it's better to play it safe than have to worry when it's coming back on you.  Why put yourself through that? 

      Witch Bottles are easy to use, but powerful.  So remember to respect what you do with them.  Don't do it "just for kicks".  Blessings to you, my brothers and sisters.


© Morag of the Shadows 1999


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