Witches Balls: English and Appalachian Folklore & DIY

Witch Balls: 4 WITCHCRAFT Tools for Protection and Warding

Have you ever been to New England? Beautiful hand-blown glass ornaments adorn windows and doorways. Or maybe your grandmother had one at her house when you were a child. Perhaps you’ve noticed them sitting atop pillars in a neighbor’s garden. These are called witch balls and have been a tradition in the United States since at least the seventeenth century. Brought over by English immigrants, this glass decoration has been part of English folklore for even longer. The glass witch balls are the more popular kind, but there are others. Here we will discuss the origins of witch balls, how to make the herbal Appalachian version as well as the m modern type.

First, There Are 4 Types of Witch Balls

There isn’t just one type of witch ball, but four from what I can gather. They are similar in many ways with some very noticeable differences, as you’ll soon find out. Here are the four:

  • Glass (Handblown) Balls
  • Gazing Balls for the Garden
  • Appalachian Herbal Witch Balls
  • Modern Ornamental Witch Balls

The MAGICK and Folklore of Glass Witch Balls

The traditional handblown glass witch balls protect one’s home from evil spirits. The idea here is that evil spirits are attracted to shiny, beautiful things like stained glass ornaments. Once they go to inspect the object, they might go inside to have a “look around”. Once inside, the glass ball is filled with strings of blown glass – these strings then entangle the evil spirits and keep them inside. Like a spiderweb catches flies. The evil spirits are stuck inside of the witch ball forever, until someone releases them by smashing the ball. They are called witch balls because people in Colonial times were fearful of witches and malevolent witchcraft being used against them. So they themselves used witchcraft to “entrap witches” or the evil spirits.

Gazing Garden Balls

The second type of witch ball is known as a gazing ball and is typically placed in the garden or somewhere on the individual’s property. These are decorative, as well, and look a little different from their handblown New England counterpart. Gazing witch balls are typically much larger and sit on a pedestal, like the one shown below. While there’s no “strings” inside of the gazing ball, it’s supposed to serve the same purpose – to lure a spirit away from wreaking havoc on your garden and instead gaze into the ball. It works by distraction. In addition, I’ve known witches to actually use gazing balls in the garden in order to scry or divine the future.

A gazing ball is a witches ball.
The gazing ball is a witches ball for the garden to confuse spirits.

Appalachian Witch Balls (NON-Glass Type)

The other witch balls used by American witches were very much feared in the Appalachian Mountains. Victims of witches’ curses in the Mountains claimed witch balls were created on the witch’s sabbath. The devil started a fire, put a bot to boil over it, and threw in the nasty ingredients of which to make the witch balls. The ingredients included: weasel blood, baby fat, spider legs, cat bladders, cat whiskers, bat brains, myrrh resin, pig hair, and more! The witches danced around the fire and chanted over the contents of the pot, then once cooled, formed the ingredients into balls. These balls were hurled at the intended victims and cursed them with illness, misfortune, and death.

Here’s the deal. I believe these Appalachian witch balls were a form of folk magic that likely did NOT include such grisly objects as bat brains that were made under the direction of the Devil. They were likely an actual herbal remedy or folk remedy to ward off evil that was somehow twisted and demonized by overly-zealous religious and superstitious folk. You could literally take herbs and resins (like the myrrh resin the folklore books speak of) as ingredients, form and shape little balls of incense. Throw them in the fire or use them to purify your space. Not so scary now, are they?

How to Make an Appalachian Witches Ball

Want to learn how to make the Appalachian version? Here, we will learn how to make traditional folkloric witch balls from the Appalachian mountains (as described in the folklore section above).

Gather the following:

  • dried herbs like rosemary, lavender, sage, agrimony, basil, thyme, etc.
  • a binder like gum arabic or benzoin
  • mortar and pestle
  • cookie sheet or wax paper

Steps:

After you’ve gathered the ingredients and tools needed, follow these steps:

  1. Pour a small (desired) amount of each herb into the mortar and pestle and grind them down into a powder.
  2. While performing these steps, visualize your intention in your mind (be it love, money, banishment, healing, etc)
  3. Next add your binding agent – benzion or gum arabic.
  4. Begin rolling the binding agent and herbs into a ball. Visualize and focus on your intention with each movement.
  5. Once the ball is formed, leave it to dry for a day or two on the cookie sheet or wax paper.

Burn it like incense in a fire-safe container or keep in windowsills, on altars, and around the house to bring the desired effect into manifestation. Make traditional witches balls for love, prosperity, healing, to call on ancestors, to ward off evil, or to banish negativity.

Glass witch ball hanging outside.
This is a traditional glass blown witches ball to hang in a window or outside.

The MODERN Witch Ball

My visit to Salem, MA was filled with witchcraft and magick around every street corner. Literally. One particular shop stuck out in my mind – Crow Haven’s Corner. When I walked in, I immediately noticed the blown-glass witch balls hanging from the rafters. Literally covering the entire ceiling with color and magic. These were being sold by the shop owner, Lorelei, but I believe also served a purpose of raising the vibrations of her shop and warding off negative energy. You can use glass witch balls in much the same way. OR make your own.

How to Make Your Own Enchanted Balls

These witch balls are easy and fun to make. And they can double as Christmas/Yule ornaments, if you choose. Before beginning, decide on your intention. Will you be making one for protective purposes? Warding off negative energy and spirits? Or bringing prosperity and love? This centuries-old tool in modern times serves any purpose you’d like it to.

Common Intentions:

  • Warding and Trapping Spirits
  • Absorbing negative energy of all kinds
  • Promoting prosperity
  • Peace and joy in a household
  • Drawing money to a business

What You’ll Need:

  • Empty glass (fillable) ornament balls: find these at craft stores or online
  • Herbs to match your intentions: cinnamon for prosperity, lavender for purification, evergreens to celebrate the season, etc.
  • Other items to fuel the spell might include salt, petitions, feathers, charms, pictures, etc.
  • Ribbon or string (from which to hand the ball)
  • Glue or wax to seal the ball

How to Enchant Your Witch’s Ball:

  1. Gather and cleanse your items.
  2. Open the glass ball ornament and begin adding your contents.
  3. Tell each item it’s purpose and/or pray, chant and sing to raise the energy of your spell.
  4. Put the top on the ball and seal it with glue or wax.
  5. Add a ribbon or string to the top and say “may this witch ball bring/ward _______so be it.””
  6. Last, hang the ball where you feel it will best serve its purpose. From the ceiling, in a window, on your Yule tree, etc.

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Witches Balls and how to make a witches ball

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23 thoughts on “Witch Balls: 4 WITCHCRAFT Tools for Protection and Warding

  1. I purchased what I thought was a witches ball, it’s beautiful but doesn’t have the strands inside, can it still be used to trap negativity without the strands? Thank you!

  2. My Grandson made one .I loved it so much he gave it to me as a gift at Christmas. I cleansed it and hung it in my window.
    Is it ok to accept it as mine?

      1. A kind of witch ball I make is for needleworking witches. Use either
        Either a glass or plastic
        Transparent ball and put your thread or yarn clippings inside

  3. I have some small seashells in one. Is there a meaning to it? The shells are just the right size and I thought it looked nice.
    Should I add anything else?

  4. I ᴡill immediately grasp yoսr rss as I can not find your
    email subscription link or newsletter service.
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    Thanks.

      1. It should be mentioned, the witch ball has to be hung in an east facing window, or direction. As beautiful as they are, they are not an ordinary glass decoration – ornament. When you are given a witch ball, or purchase one for yourself, it now belongs to you, for life… Never purchase a witch ball from an antique store, flea market, estate sale, yard sale, etc., or except one, that belonged to someone else, for when you bring the ball, or bottle home with you, you’re now bringing the previously captured evil in to your own home.
        Blessings,

          1. Most are buried, the earth knows what to do with them. Else breaking them under sea water will ground away and cleanse the energy. This is less helpful because 1: broken glass, probably in reach of recreation beach lovers and 2:not everyone lives by the sea. Fiery elimination MIGHT work but the energy might be too quick in escaping once the glass has shattered or melted.

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