Witch Bottles: History, Culture, Magic
WITCH BOTTLES by Daniel Harms is the first in-depth exploration of the history, culture and magic of this little-known practice used to protect against and remedy the believed effects of misfortunes attributed to witches. The author defines a Witch Bottle “as an object, usually intended to fight off maleficent magic, that employs at least two of the following three ingredients: a bottle, urine, and sharp objects, which may include needles, pins, or thorns”. In the East of England these witch bottles were used from the 17th century onwards as a protection against the effects of witchcraft. From here it spread all over the British Isles and Ireland; and then to America in communities that feared witches. The author carefully presents research taken from history, folklore and archaeology, including examples of household deposits and domestic magic records, with detailed footnotes and examples of full incantations. Harms’ work is essential reading for scholars, practitioners of folk magic and all those interested in witchcraft.
“Witch bottles are rapidly becoming part of the heritage, not just of one person, but of the world, and granting them to our public institutions and museums will do much to help us to unlock their meaning, to the people of both the past and present.” – Daniel Harms, author of Witch Bottles.
“The unearthed witch-bottle is something of a murky treasure. Sealed and secreted, they encapsulate magical ideas and sorcerous strategies for undoing the blights of bewitchment.” – Dr. Alexander Cummins, Foreword
Table of Contents
Unsettling the Contents: A Foreword on Witch Bottles by Alexander Cummins 11
The Witch in Belief, Folklore, and Medical Practice 23
Origins of the Witch Bottle 28
Witch Bottles in Scandinavia 65
Witch Bottles in North America 67
Today’s Witch Bottles 82
Witch Bottles in the Media 86
Works Consulted 101