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 witch bottle A charm used in folk magic to protect

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Date d'inscription : 14/04/2010

MessageSujet: witch bottle A charm used in folk magic to protect   Dim 18 Avr - 11:38

witch bottle A charm used in folk magic to protect
against evil spirits and magical attack, and to counteract
spells cast by witches. Witch bottles were prevalent in
Elizabethan England, especially in East Anglia, where
superstitions and beliefs in witches were strong, although
their use has continued into modern times.
The witch bottle was a little flask about three inches
high and made of green or blue glass. Some were larger
and rounder, about five to nine inches in height; these
were known as Greybeards or Bellarmines. The Bellarmines
were named after a fearsome Catholic inquisitor
who persecuted Protestants and was called a demon by
his victims. The Greybeards and Bellarmines were made
of brown or gray stoneware, glazed with Salt and embossed
with bearded faces. Both the salt and severe face
were believed to scare off evil.
The witch bottle was prepared magically by a witch or
cunning man or woman, who placed into it the victim’s
urine, hai r and nai ls, or red thread from sprite-traps.
When the bottle was buried beneath the house hearth
or threshold, the spell was nullified and the witch supposedly
suffered great discomfort. Sometimes the bottles
were thrown into a fire; when they exploded, the spell
was broken or the witch was supposedly killed. If urine
was used as a counter-charm, then the witch became unable
to urinate; thus, she was exposed for her maleficia.
Witch bottles were especially used to nullify the evi l
eye.
Witch bottles were hung in chimneys as charms to
prevent witches from flying down and entering a house.
They were also hung near doors and windows and plastered
into walls above door lintels to protect the threshold.
Commercial buildings, rail lines, bridges and other
structures were often given witch bottles as a general prophylactic
against evil and disaster.
Joseph Glanvil described the making of a witch bottle
in his book Sadducimus Triumphatus—or Full and Plain
Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions (1681). According
to Glanvil, the wife of William Brearly, a priest
and fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, became ill
when the couple took lodgings in Suffolk County. She was
haunted by an apparition in the shape of a bird. A cunning
man prescribed a witch bottle containing her urine
and pins, needles and nails. The bottle was to be corked
and set by the fire. The evil was removed, and the wizard
who bewitched her allegedly died.
England’s great cunning man James Murrell was famous
for his witch bottles. Some were made of iron. According
to lore, the local blacksmith had great difficulty
in forging the first iron bottle for Murrell, who had to say
a prayer in order for the fire to draw. Another story holds
that a boy was made to drink beer from this first bottle
without knowing what it was. When he learned it was a
witch bottle, he went home in dread and died.
As Murrell often instructed his clients to heat his
witch bottles in the fire, the blacksmith wisely made a
tiny hole in the top of the iron ones so that steam could
escape and the bottles would not lethally explode. The
hissing steam made Murrell think that the spirits of the
witches he was battling were escaping.
A witch bottle cure from Murrell follows along the
lines of this story from the 1850s:
A young woman discovered an old Gypsy in a barn
drinking beer left by the harvesters. She ordered the old
woman out and was cursed by her. Almost immediately,
the girl began having fits and acting alternately like a ca t
and a dog.
witch bottle 377
Her family consulted Murrell, who prepared a witch
bottle containing the girls’ urine and blood, herbs and
pins. The bottle was heated in a fire in a darkened room
with locked doors. The family was instructed to remain
silent or the counter-spell would not work.
Soon footsteps sounded outside the door, then furious
knocking. A woman’s voice said, “For God’s sake, stop.
You’re killing me.” Instantly the witch bottle exploded,
and the voice faded away. The girl recovered. In the morning,
the Gypsy’s badly burned body was discovered in the
road three miles away.
See Biddy Early.
Further reading:
Maple, Eric. The Dark World of Witches. New York: A.S.
Barnes & Co., 1962.
Pennick, Nigel. Secrets of East Anglican Magic. London: Robert
Hale, 1995.
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