submitted by Lady Erzsebet.
Witch bottles are generally familiar to most Pagans, and are sometimes thought of as a "bottled spell". Many modern Pagans include witch bottles in their collection of spells, widening and diversifying it, making it more comparable with their personal needs and ethics. Here's a little background on them, as well as instructions to make a few different types. Remember though, variations are what will make this spell work the best for you, feel free to personalize it, these are just guidelines.
A Little History on Witch Bottles~
The history of witch bottles goes back hundreds of years. The origins of this tradition has been dated back to the 1500's (but are probably much older than that). This was around the same time the witch hunts were going on. After this period, the tradition seemed to slowly wane.
Old witch bottles contained a variety of things like bent iron nails, human hair (both head and pubic) and urine. Urine has been an important ingredient of a witch bottle and has been long known in folk traditions. To strengthen this fact, all of the witch bottles that have been found in England that were tested for urine, did come up positive! Other items often found in witch bottles included small bones, thorns, needles, and pieces of wood.
Witch bottles were most often found buried under the fireplace. Sometimes they've also been found under the floor, buried in the ground, and plastered inside walls. The fireplace is, from a magical point of view, a security risk since it has a direct connection with the skies above. It was believed that a curse or even a witch herself in a shape~shifted form could get in a house through the fireplace. Another security risk was the doorway, since doors are opened and closed several times throughout the day. So in addition to the fireplace, bottles were often hidden near the doorway.
The contents of a witch-bottle were originally designed to not only divert being the target of the inquisition, but also to attack a rival witch, to cause them to suffer the agonies brought on by all the devastating things inside the bottle. Put simply, to turn the attack/curse back to the attacker/curser.
The items in the bottle can be seen this way ~ blood and/or urine in the bottle symbolizes the object of the curse. The curser and the object of the curse were believed to have a strong connection and the curse was believed to target not only its intended victim, but the bodily fluids as well. When the bottle was placed in such a way that made it easier for the curse to meet with the urine before the intended victim, the curse would hit the bottle instead of its intended victim. This is why the bottles were usually hidden where they were. Also, the importance of pubic hair and hair was similar, but not considered as potent, to that of the blood/urine.
Witch bottles are an important part of age old traditions of sympathetic magic with its intentions of causing pain for the attacker with the contents of the witch bottle. According to old beliefs, the use of witch bottles sometimes brought the attacker themselves, writhing in agony, knocking on the door begging for someone to break the witch bottle, and promising to reverse the curse.
Witch bottles have always been believed to be active as long as the bottle remained hidden and unbroken. Quite often, those buried underneath fireplaces have been found only after the rest of the building has been torn down!
Witch Bottles Today~
Generally speaking, the modern day witch bottles are quite similar to our ancestors' witch bottles in their basic composition. The most common purpose for making a witch bottle today is to capture the negative energies targeted at the builder of the bottle, their family or their home. It is an important observation here to note that most witch bottles in use today are intended to change negative energy into positive one and then release it into the surrounding area. This kind of bottle could be classified as "guard and protect" bottles, as opposed to the destructive nature of our past bottles.
The basic structure of witch bottles can even be used for purposes other than protective ~ for financial gain, for helping with artistic creativity, to call forth any type positive energy (instead of just filtering out negative energy), for improving health, and so on.
We can say that the basic principle is, practically speaking, that a witch bottle is a container of some sort, usually a jar or a bottle, which is filled with objects and liquids which fulfill any intended magickal purpose of it's creator. The person making the witch bottle, or, in other words, the one casting the "bottled" spell, can charge the objects magickally beforehand and build the bottle to work on this charging until the need of renewing the spell arises. Witch bottles can also be built to recharge themselves by the energy they capture for as long as the bottle stays unbroken, whether it be years or centuries.
There is also the option of of magickally charging the items, and building a bottle whose powers are based on its contents, but cumulatively so, resulting with powers stronger than the sum of its parts.
What Do Modern Witch-Bottles Contain?
The typical contents of the basic protective witch bottle today is quite similar to that of the traditional one: bent iron nails (they can be old and rusty or clean and unused), thorns, rusty razor blades, broken glass or pieces of broken mirror (there are two opinions here, some say breaking a mirror for this will bring the maker bad luck, others say it will bring the intended target an extra dose of bad lack), other sharp and dangerous items to suit your need, urine of the bottle's builder, menstrual or other blood, as well as semen as the masculine counterpart for menstrual blood are often used (a serious warning~ blood and semen are the most powerful ingredient you can use in any spell, so be very careful and certain of what you're doing before using it). The types bottles used are most often common tight lidded glass jars, or bottles with a wide mouth.
Some other types of witch bottles often contain plain sand, different colored sands, crystals, stones, knotted threads, herbs, spices, resin, flowers, candles, incense, salt, vinegar, oil, coins, saw dust, ashes, and so forth. Actually, as with the purposes of the witch bottles, the ingredients placed inside are only limited to your needs, your desires, and your imagination. Candles or sealing wax are recommended to keep the jar's seal tight and secure, but it's certainly not required.
Pagans living in their own house may be able to hide the witch bottle in the traditional way under the fireplace, under the floor, or in the walls. However, it is more common these days to bury the bottle in the yard in a place where nobody will accidentally break it while digging in the garden. Apartments can be a bit tough when you're trying to find somewhere to hide a witch bottle. Obviously digging a hole and burying the bottle in the yard may be not only difficult, but probably not allowed. Plus, kids can dig the bottle up and hurt themselves on the contents. But, the situation is not impossible. The bottle doesn't have to be situated near the home in order for it to work. If you're constructing a bottle to be a personal safety guard, it can be buried in a forest or sunk in a swamp. For a witch bottle designed to guard your home and those living in it, you can use a large flowerpot by the front door or on the windowsill to bury the bottle in to. You're only limited by your creativity!
I've know Pagans who put the witch bottle into a closet next to the front door, where it could easily do its job as a guardian and protector of your home and its inhabitants. But, this solution might cause some trouble if the same thing that happened to a friend of mine should happen to you ~ the witch bottle he kept in his closet worked great, until it one day quite literally blew up. The bottle was of the traditional type, so cleaning up after this wasn't pleasant, as I am sure you can imagine. When we refined the idea a little better, we decided to put the bottle inside of a covered bucket filled with soil, and only then did we think it was safe to go back inside in the closet.
This is the tried and true basic witch bottle, suitable for modern day Pagans. This bottle is intended to be one that protects its maker, and also the maker's home and family, from specific and/or nonspecific negative energies. Depending on how you make your bottle, and on your will, the bottle can be one that gathers the negative energies in itself, or a capturing one that sends the energies back to where they came from, or you can make one that changes negative energy into positive. As I've already stated, there is no limit to what you can create.
Suggestions for Materials~
Glass or stone bottle, or jar, with a tightly closing cap. Size depends only on what you can easily hide. Size doesn't really matter for this spell to work.
Wax or candles to seal the bottle. Black is a good choice.
All kinds of sharp, destructive items~ nails, rusty and bent (you can bend them). Pieces of barbed wire, thorns, burrs, pieces of glass and/or mirror, razor blades, needles... etc.
Also~ menstrual blood or semen (as I've stated earlier,these are the most powerful ingredients you can use). Other blood sources, and also very powerful~ use a sterile needle or razor blade and make a small incision on your finger tip, squeezing out a few drops of blood. Your urine of course, plus pubic or other hair, which is almost as powerful as blood. I personally use all three, my urine, hair and blood. An egg can also be included.
Get together all the necessary items, your bodily fluids being the very last, as you don't want to store them even for one day. You can collect other items intended for a witch bottle over a period of time if you need to, storing them until you have all the necessary items. Used items found on the ground suit the purpose very well.
Waning moon is the best time for creating a witch bottle. The ritual can be of just the visualization of the bottle's intended use, or it can be pre~written ritual, or a ritual of your own design, again, this is up to you.
Suggestions to help with your visualization~
The bodily fluids are a part of yourself, they are part of your essence and are traditionally used in magick. Instead of having the negative energies hitting you, they hit your representative in the witch bottle, the part of your essence, attacking them instead of you. This is one of the reasons that the fluids from your body are the most powerful substances there are.
The sharp and destructive items inside the bottle are intended to capture the negative energies~ the metal captures them, the glass confuses and cuts them, the thorns puncture them. You can also visualize the negative energies drowning in the urine. Remember though, these are just a very few suggestions to give you a basic idea of how you can visualize your bottle working for you.
Be sure to choose the hiding place for your witch bottle before you make it. By the time the bottle is finished, you don't want to start wondering, "where am I going put this thing?" If you are going to bury the bottle in the ground, choose the place carefully so that people or animals will not dig it up.
Making Your Bottle~
Have equipment and items at hand in the place you consider best suitable. Cast a circle, if that's a part of your ritual. You can build the bottle and have your ritual at the site of where you will hide it or do everything in one place and then take the finished bottle elsewhere to be buried, this is your choice, just do with what feels right for you.
Fill the bottle with items you've chosen until they form a "potent" mixture. Shake the bottle to mix the items if you want. If you are including an egg, don't break it first, and add it as the last of the solid items. Next, add urine, the menstrual blood or semen (or prick your finger with the sterile pin), and, be sure that the VERY LAST thing you add is your blood. You won't need large amounts, blood and semen are VERY potent, so few drops will work fine.
Close the cap or lid and seal the bottle with the candle or sealing wax. You can carve symbols of any type if you wish, but be careful not to break the seal.
If you cast a circle before starting, don't forget to take it down. Remember to ground yourself, but if you are creating the bottle at the same place where you're hiding it, you can ground yourself after you hide it.
A side note here, you can bury the bottle upside down if you wish, putting more of your energy into the hole you dug before covering it all up.
Many witch bottles use herbs, the herbs being chosen according to their magickal qualities. There are sometimes very specific instructions given for the gathering of each herb and other items, including correct phases of the moon. The herbs and other objects can be put in the bottle the previous day, then leave the bottle next to your bed over night. In the morning, you can add your urine to the bottle, then close and seal the bottle, utilizing any ritual you choose, if any. Some believe that the bottle can be placed in a cupboard or closet, so you don't have to carefully hide it unless you want to, or if it could easily be found.
The following is a basic version of a witch bottle using herbs. You can do everything using a longer, more complex ritual, or a shorter, simpler rite, depending on your own inclinations. You can start collecting the necessary items on a given phase of the moon and perform the ritual on the next dark moon. Or, you can collect the items when you have time for it and build the bottle at any phase of the moon. For example, with protective spells, you don't always have to wait for the right phase of the moon, you can do it when you need to. You can also utter a spell with every item you place inside the bottle, summoning the spirit of the item, and meditate for a while, or you can speak your chosen words after the bottle is filled. You can make the bottle as part of a ritual, or you can construct a ritual especially for this occasion, it's up to you.
Bottle or jar, with a tightly closing cap or lid. Sea salt. Crystals or stones. Herbs, seeds, gums, resins. Bent rusted nails, sharp broken glass, sewing needles and pins. Wine, vinegar, urine. Thread. Black candle for sealing. The usual tools used in rituals if needed.
Some Ideas on Preliminary Preparations~
You can choose the herbs and crystals you are going to use according to their special qualities. You can also use a drop or two of an essential oil instead of, or in addition to, any herb(s). You can choose the number of herbs and solid items in general to put in the bottle, or, on numerological grounds so that the number of all solid items is a specific one. Some suitable numbers are 7, connected to protection, or 9, connected with the Goddess.
Clean the bottle you are going to use, washing it with warm soapy water carefully (if you can use a soap made for protective purposes, that's even better) and dry it well. You can leave the bottle over night in the light of a full moon to charge (I like to do this myself). Choose a place to hide the bottle before hand, of course. For a bottle to be filled as part of a ritual, you should have all the necessary tools already set up on your altar ahead of time.
The purpose of the crystals and stones are to use their magickal qualities, the same goes with the herbs. The salt is to purify and bless the target of the witch bottle, being the person(s), and home to be protected. The nails and needles ground negative energy and you can visualize it being then sent back to its sender, threefold. The thread tangles the negative energy in a knot, and you can also visualize the negativity tripping over to the thread. The urine represents the builder of the bottle. When using wine or vinegar, visualize the negative energies drowning in the liquid, with vinegar acting as a purifying element too.
Making the Bottle~
If you're constructing the bottle as part of a ritual, perform the ritual opening as usual.
Start by filling the bottle with the sea salt. After the salt, add the needles or nails, bent or straight. Next, add in the herbs. Now for the crystals and the thread, you can tangle them into a ball and they can be added next, or you add the thread next followed by the crystals if you don't want to tangle them up together. Add liquids last, after the solid items.
When the bottle is finished, you can raise energies with a suitable chant such as, "Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna", directing it into the bottle, after which close the bottle and seal it with the wax of the candle.
End your ritual as you usually do and bury the bottle in the place you've previously chosen. You can feel free to burn incense on the hiding place to seal the spell properly.
So, try to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a "one true witch bottle", even though people will try to tell you so. There are only bottles more like the traditional ones and bottles of more modern variety. As I stated many times previously, the only limit to a witch bottle is your need, your desire, and your creativity.
This article is © 2003 Lady Erzsebet.