So what is a Witch bottle anyway?

witch bottle2Contrary to popular belief, a witch bottle was something people used to ‘protect themselves’ from witch’s curses. It was a container (usually made of pottery or later glass) filled with all manner of things, mainly sharp, and certain bodily fluids, and poisonous herbs and enchanted in rhyme form to protect the user or holder from witchcraft. The first documented use of a witch bottle dates back to the 17th Century, and they’ve been in use ever since. In addition, ‘witch bottles’ were also used for general protection, safe-guarding the home from fire, flood or thieves. The bottles are buried in the earth by the threshold, or under the floor boards and quietly go about their work, protecting all of the inhabitants inside against negativity and dark magics.

What actually went in a witch bottle? Well, the mainstay of these bottles were generally sharp objects such as nails, broken pieces of flint and glass. However, as mentioned above bodily fluids such as urine and blood were also included, as well as protective and/or baneful herbs (such as henbane, wolfsbane, nightshade etc). Witches bottles actually work with sympathetic magic, in that you use objects that have an association with the intended ‘victim’ or purpose. So, for example, to deter thieves you might add sharp objects ‘to prick and cut’ thieving fingers, to protect you would use protective herbs such as rowan or blackthorn.

Witch bottles can be created specifically to curse or hex but also for thwarting general negativity. Traditional English cunning-craft isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, neither is Witchcraft, it’s good to be reminded of that sometimes (this article is NOT written from a Wiccan perspective).

witch bottle1

If you want to create a witch bottle you first need to decide its purpose. The following is taken from an article written by Jason Mankey in Patheos:

To make a witch bottle you’ll need either a jar or a bottle. Mason jars work well, but you can use a spaghetti sauce jar or a wine bottle; whatever you want. Word of warning though, the narrower the opening the more difficult making your bottle might be (especially towards the end). We created our bottles in four easy steps, though if you want to repeat our version of the spell you can add or subtract a few depending on your circumstances.

Step One: Items to pierce and cut. Materials you can use: nails, screws, pins, razor blades, bottle-caps (the rustier the better for all of these)

When I was creating my bottle I envisioned all of these nasty little things cutting and slicing up any negative that tried to make its way through my front doors. Often times people will use a specific number of pins, nails, etc., because it has a magical meaning for them. (In the 19th Century the number nine comes up a lot, but don’t let tradition dictate what you do, do what makes sense to you!) I simply trusted my hands to pick the right number of nails and razor blades, putting only those that “felt right” into my jar. Once the coven had picked out all of their pointy objects and deposited them into jars we held our bottles and recited the following chant:

Sharp and pointy Metal and mighty No one shall hex or curse So says this witches verse

We repeated this chant six times because I like to do things in increments of three while picturing bad things stepping on bottle-caps and getting pricked by needles.

Step Two: Edibles to cause thirst, burning, and blistering. (Yeah, I took a long shower after this ritual, and I wrote it.) Materials you can use: Spicy food (hot peppers, ginger), salt, vinegar, spoiled wine, stuff you personally don’t like.

Let’s say that cutting out darkness isn’t quite enough, maybe you want to burn it out? Since it would be hard to stuff an ever-burning flame into a bottle hot peppers are an easy alternative. For our ritual we used red pepper. In order to be a little more aggressive we also added some salt, making anyone who would wish us harm eternally thirsty, or at least thirsty once they dared to cross over our witch bottles! To that end we also added vinegar. Once all of the materials we wanted were in our jars we chanted once again, focusing on the intent of the new ingredients added to our jars.

Blister, thirst, and burn To this spell we turn Taste failure taste despair So says this witches prayer

Step Three: Silver dimes for deflection Materials: dime coins (10 cent pieces for those of you outside of the US and Canada)

Silver dime protect me from harm Be a part of this witches charm

Step Four: A piece of yourself Materials: hair, nail clipping, blood, urine, spit

Before the spell is complete the owner of the bottle has to mark their property. Urine was very common a few centuries ago, with toenails and fingernails coming in a close second. (In my bottle I used a finger nail, a few strands of hair, toenails, and some urine.) The important thing is to make sure the bottle and its contents know who to keep safe from harm, and the easiest way to do that is with something directly from the body. If the idea of nails, spit, and blood is too much, you could always simply write your name on a piece of paper and add it to the jar, but since names have power, you might be taking an unnecessary risk. Just spit into it when no one’s looking. Before finishing up this step be sure to top of your witch bottle if it needs a little extra liquid. In addition to vinegar or wine here, you can also used salted water, nothing drives away negativity better. During our ritual we ended with this bit of magic and the following chant:

I give this bottle a bit of me From evil and darkness free Witch bottle I have conjured thee The spell is now cast so mote it be!

Step Five: Sealing the bottle Materials: Wax, ribbon, tape

Due to time and space constraints we skipped this part in our ritual, but sealing up a witch bottle is a nice little extra step. The easiest “seal” is to simply tie a ribbon around the bottle somewhere. A bit more involved would be to make a wax seal. If you’re out of ribbons or wax duct tape would work here too. The whole point of a witch bottle is that it can be made out of easily available ingredients in the home. Nothing is right or wrong. Had we used this step during our ritual we would have chanted the following:

I seal this bottle whole and well Now I finish this witch’s spell!

Step Six: Bury the witch bottle Materials: Shovel

When your witch bottle is ready for use all you have to do is bury it. It’s best to bury it near the entrance to the home, or if you are really ambitious, under your fireplace. Mine ended up right in front of my back door, the door that leads to my office.. My chants are never very good, but they do always rhyme. As I was tossing dirt over my jelly-jar witch bottle I recited the following words several times:

I bury this bottle deep in the ground Now this witch shall sleep safe and sound!

Remember folks that you don’t have to use the same ingredients as suggested above. Use your imagination in keeping with your intent. Witch Bottles can be adapted for Wiccan use and don’t have to incorporate sharp nasties 🙂

Daily Om ~ Reversed Perceptions

Janus-dimon21When we take ownership of our thoughts we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others. We all have issues, as well as undesirable qualities or traits that we don’t like about ourselves. Most of us realize that we are not perfect and that it is natural to have unpleasant thoughts, motivations, desires, or feelings. However, when a person does not acknowledge these, they may ascribe those characteristics to someone else, deeming other people instead as angry, jealous, or insecure. In psychological terms, such blaming and fault finding is called projection.

When we are the target of projections, it can be confusing and frustrating, not to mention maddening, particularly when we know that we are not the cause of another person’s distress. Even people who are well aware of their issues may find that sensitive subjects can bring up unexpected projections. They may feel insecure about a lack of funds and thus view a friend as extravagant. Or, if they really want to get in shape, they may preach the benefits of exercise to anyone and everyone.

While we can try to avoid people we know who engage in projecting their “stuff” onto others, we can’t always steer clear of such encounters. We can, however, deflect some projections through mindfulness and meditation. A useful visualization tool is to imagine wrapping ourselves in a protective light everyday. At other times, we may have to put up a protective shield when we feel a projection coming our way, reminding ourselves that someone else’s issues are not ours. Although it’s difficult not to react when we are the recipient of a projection, it is a good idea to try to remain calm and let the other person know if they are being unreasonable and disrespectful. We all know that it’s not fun to be dumped on. Likewise, we should be mindful that we don’t take our own frustrations out on others. When we take ownership of our thoughts, motivations, desires, and feelings, we are less likely to project our issues or disowned qualities onto others.

Source: Daily Om

Daily Om ~ Protecting Your Flow

ImageProxyWhen we are feeling creatively blocked, it is usually our own fear that is creating that block. To understand how fear blocks creativity, take a moment to imagine yourself telling a story. First, imagine telling the story to someone you love and who loves you. You probably feel warmth and energy as you fill in the details of your tale to your friend’s delight. Now, imagine telling the same story to someone who, for whatever reason, makes you uncomfortable. The wonderful twists and turns, the fine points and colourful images that unfolded in your mind for your friend probably won’t present themselves. Instead of warmth, energy, and creativity, you will probably feel opposite sensations and a desire to close down. When we feel unsafe, whether we fear being judged, disliked, or misunderstood, our creative flow stops. Alternately, when we feel safe, our creativity unfolds like a beautiful flower, without conscious effort.

Knowing this, we can maximize our creative potential by creating the conditions that inspire our creativity. In order to really be in the flow, we need to feel safe and unrestricted. However, achieving this is not as simple as avoiding people who make us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we can be alone in a room and still feel totally blocked. When this happens, we know we have come up against elements in our own psyches that are making us feel fearful. Perhaps we are afraid that in expressing ourselves we will discover something we don’t want to know, or unleash emotions or ideas that we don’t want to be responsible for. Or maybe we’re afraid we’ll fail to produce something worthy.

When you’re up against fear, internal or external, ritual can be a powerful—and creative—antidote. Before you sit down to be creative, try casting a circle of protection around yourself. Visualize yourself inside a ring of light, protective fire, or angels. Imagine that this protective energy emanates unconditional love for you and wants to hear, see, and feel everything you have to express. Take a moment to bathe in the warmth of this feeling and then fearlessly surrender yourself to the power that flows through you.

Source: Daily Om

E is for Earth Ritual

5789710_origFor this posting for the Pagan Blog Project this week I’d like to share with you all my little Earth Ritual that I do in my back garden at least once a year, and normally at this time of year, and again in the summer. There are a couple of reasons why I do it, first because I wish to bless my garden, the soil to be productive, the grass, the plants that are growing in it, and to bless also all the little critters who live in my back yard, or who make use of it. Secondly, because it just makes me feel good.

The very first thing I do is prepare some incense. I make my own by grinding cinnamon with frankincense and mixing it together. The reason why I use these two is because cinnamon  has the powers of spirituality, success, healing, power and protection (among others) and is fire energy, which is transformative. Frankincense is also fire energy and transformative and has protective and spiritual qualities too, as well as being a resin that helps with removing unwanted negative energies. So these two prove a powerful mix. I grind them both into a fine powder that I will burn on a small charcoal disc in my earthenware bowl.

The second thing I do is make sure I have some Full Moon water with me. This is made on the full moon nearest to the time I wish to do my ritual and is created by leaving still spring water outside on the night of the full moon, in a glass bowl. It doesn’t matter if the night is overcast or raining because the moon’s powerful energy can still permeate the cloud cover. This water is then decanted into a glass bottle I keep on my altar (which also contains a Herkimer diamond that amplifies the energy). I then bless it simply in the names of my patron deities.

Other utensils I will need are my pheasant feather fan to waft the incense smoke about, and three small sprigs of rosemary to use as an asperge for the full moon water.

I spend some time sitting out in my garden meditating and grounding myself – usually do a bit of qi gong at this point. Then basically I go all around my garden in a sunwise fashion (clock wise) wafting incense over every part of it; grass, earth, plants, gate, fence – everything! Then I repeat with my full moon water, which I’ve poured into a little bowl. I use the rosemary sprigs to sprinkle this water over everything too. As I go I just say something very simple like By Earth, Sky and Sea and the Powers that Be – May the earth and everything that grows from it and lives within it be blessed – So mote it Be! To be honest I kind of make it up as I go along with whatever words move me at the time but it’s never complicated.

When I’ve finished I waft incense and sprinkle moon water over my outside altar and then just sit and relax in my garden for a bit – Simples!

Feel free to use this ritual for yourself or adapt it as you see fit.

 

H is for Hag Stone

Hag stones are stones that have a naturally occurring hole in them, made by the movement of water continually over the years, or by other stones rubbing against them. Another way holes get stones in them is by a pholas, a common marine bivalve who bores into clay and soft rock such as limestone. They are known by many other names too – adder stones, witch stones, serpent’s eggs, glain neidyr (Wales), milpreve (Cornwall), gloine nan druidh (Scottish Gaelic), and aggri (Egypt).

Often the stone is glassy an is referred to as Druid’s Glass and said to protect a person from eye diseases, from evil charms, prevent nightmares, the ability to see through to the faerie realm or to even see through faery or witch glamour. Such stones were highly prized by the Druids of old, especially the Gaulish Druids, who used them as amulets and for divination. In the druidic tradition the hag stone was the hardened saliva of a mass of snakes, the hole being caused by their tongues. If you ever see an adder’s nest you will see females writhing together in an entwined ball.

In more modern witchcraft traditions a hag stone provides focus and direction and has great magical importance. By looking through the hole one can align oneself to the non-material world. It helps remind us to keep our vision focused.

Funnily enough, although hag stones have been and are still used by druids and witches alike in their traditions, they are also used by others to ward against malevolent witchcraft. In Dorset fishermen used the hag stone for such protection by tying ‘holy stones’ to the bows of their ships to keep away witches and other malevolent spirits. It was also quite common for people to hang hag stones on key chains or on the end of beds to protect the owner from witches and demons such as the Night Hag who would steal the life strength from a sleeping person.

Hag stone in Danholm, Germany, Baltic Sea

Holy stones, whatever name you choose to give them have been seen as magical as early as the second millennium BC, as is shown by archaeological excavations in ancient Gaza, where these kinds of stones were found purposefully placed in a room and in a grave. So the use of hag stones is early and widespread and it seems mainly for protection purposes such as protection from evil spirits, witches, pixies etc.

These holy stones have even been used in healing – where it is said that to rub a wound, broken bone or bruise with such a stone will heal it. They’ve often been worn around the neck to prevent all kinds of diseases.

The largest hag stone I possess is a beautiful one made from flint that I picked up on a beach in Kent many years ago, it’s about 4 inches by 4 inches with a hole approx. one and a half inches wide. I use this particular stone for meditation by lighting a candle and then setting the stone (which luckily is self standing) in-between me and the candle. I then just gaze through the hole at the flame. The stone seems to block out everything else apart from the flame that can be seen through the hole. It is a lovely way of meditating and really focuses my attention. Other, smaller stones I’ve made into protective amulets that I can wear around my neck or hang somewhere.

The best way to come by a hag stone is to find it yourself. There are many available over the internet to buy but you never really know if it’s a real natural holy stone or if it’s been man made that way. Contrary to popular belief holy stones are quite common around various parts of Britain on beaches, usually made out of soft rock such as limestone or chalk but also flint too. You just have to keep your eyes peeled and take some time to search. There is nothing better than finding your own hag stone and attuning it to whatever purpose you wish to use it for.

Sources: Wikipedia (Internet); Dark Dorset (Internet); The Seeker’s Guide to the Hidden Path by Raven Grimassi & Stephanie Taylor

The Daily Card: The Enchanted Map ~ Protecting Treasure

Today’s card is Protecting Treasure – what is your treasure? Here’s what the book says about this card:

You are always protected and divinely directed. Although this is a time of great risk, know that at a fundamental level you are able to move forward safely and securely. The proverbial nest egg is safe and sound no matter the fluctuations in the world. Guardian angels and other guides are whispering to you, making you aware of their protective presence. Your loyalty is an important theme now. Nurture that which you hold dear. This is a good time to strengthen bonds of friendship and ensure their integrity. If you feel tested right now, know that a true and loyal heart always achieves its aim. Take refuge under an angel’s wing. You are not alone and have no need to fear. Embrace your courage.

Treasure can mean all sorts of things to all kinds of people can’t it? For me treasure is that which resonates with and feeds my soul. Sometimes throughout life we come into situations that test us, we find ourselves amongst people who do not resonate with our souls, who sap our energy and we end up feeling lost in a miasma of negativity. At these times we need to protect that which we hold dear and guard our souls. It is true that all people and events can teach us something but we do not have to give up our soulful integrity. When faced with difficult and trying situations remember what is important to you, remember the promise of the Universe. This may mean making a choice between allowing ourselves to remain in a situation or removing ourselves from it. If we choose to remove ourselves this is not running away – this is doing our part to protect our treasure. We make this decision not out of denial but out of clarity about what’s important to us. It takes wisdom and courage to do this and rest assured that the Universe and our Guides will always back us up. I am reminded today of a quote from the very wise Walt Whitman:

Re-examine all you have been told…Dismiss what insults your soul.

 

Legal Victory ~ Wolf Killing Stopped in Rockies

In response to a suit by the Center for Biological Diversity and our allies, a federal judge yesterday stopped the killing of wolves in Montana and Idaho. Judge Molloy ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had illegally stripped the northern Rockies gray wolf of its Endangered Species Act protections in 2009 by relying on political, rather than biological, reasoning.

He ordered the wolves put back on the federal threatened list, which will end the hunting seasons that have killed more than 100 wolves in Montana and Idaho in the past year.

Yesterday’s ruling will also help other wildlife because it strikes a down Bush-era policy adopted by the Obama administration allowing the government to protect only small populations of endangered species instead of the entire species. Reliance on this anti-environmental Bush policy has been one of the many low points of Interior Secretary Salazar’s management of endangered species.

Thanks to Earthjustice for representing us in this case, and thanks to the thousands of  members and supporters who wrote letters, made phone calls, waved signs and reminded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that wolf recovery in the northern Rockies needs to be completed, not abandoned.

This is a major win for the protection of these impressive and rare wolves. 

The Center is also working to protect existing wolf populations in the Southwest and Great Lakes and to reintroduce them to former habitats in the Northeast, Utah, California and the Northwest. Please consider making a donation to our wolf recovery efforts so we can keep chalking up victories for the magnificent, much-abused gray wolf.

Source: Kieran Suckling, Executive Director, Center for Biological Diversity.