Witch Bottles: REAL History, Uses and FULL Tutorial
Witch bottles have been used for centuries by witches and those who wanted to ward off witches. Traditionally, they were used to protect the individual against dark magic and evil spirits. Today they are used for protection, love, healing and much more. Learn the history, uses, and how to make your own witch bottles here!
Witch Bottles of the Past: Their TRUE History
Witch bottles are one of the key pieces in witchcraft history that we have archaeological evidence of. Clay and glass jars and vessels have been found in England and the United States from centuries past. Historians identify these archaeological artifacts according to their contents: pins, needles, nails, broken glass, wood, fabric, human personal effects (fingernail clippings, hair, bone, urine, etc.) and sometimes herbs or stones. Witch bottles are typically buried in the earth near the front door of a home or elsewhere on the property. Sometimes buried under the hearth to allow the heat to “fire up” the bottle.
Witch Bottles: ACTUAL Archaeological Evidence that Witches Existed!
One recent famous witch bottle discovered during an archaeological dig in London is known as the Holywell Witch Bottle. Scholars say the witch bottle dates to the late seventeenth to early eighteen century and contained things like pins, nails and possibly a bit of bone.
The Bottle Found in a Governor’s House
Another famous discovery was titled the Essington Witch Bottle and was discovered in the United States on Tinicum Island in 1976. This example was dated to the mid-eighteenth century and was found buried under a then-governor’s home. Scholars believe it was buried to rid a resident of illness or the evils of witchcraft. It contained six pins, a pottery shard and bird bone and it was buried upside down. There’s much speculation as to what each item’s magical purpose was; however, many modern witches can decode them.
The Witch of Saratoga
According to Nat Geo, yet another real witch’s bottle was discovered in a chimney in Watford England. In an Inn that was once the home of the infamous Witch of Saratoga. Her real name was Angeline Tubbs, and she emigrated to New York in the seventeen hundreds. After her move, she told fortunes in the New World in order to survive and thrive. Apparently when contractors went to tear down the old chimney in England, they discovered a bottle containing fish hooks, teeth, pieces of broken glass and some sort of liquid.
Interestingly, most witch bottles date to the sixteen hundreds when a serious witch panic was happening. But this witch bottle dates to the eighteen hundreds, and therefore some connections were made to the Witch of Saratoga. However, Tubbs lived in the seventeen hundreds. So the maker of the bottle couldn’t have been her. But what this discovery proves is that magic in this form was practiced for many centuries.
Magical Uses Over the Centuries
If you read the articles provided under sources, you’ll notice there’s a lot of speculation as to what the witch bottle’s true purpose was. That’s because there was likely more than one use, just as witches use them today for different magical intentions.
It’s Main Purpose is to Protect AGAINST Witchcraft
One of the main purposes of a witch bottle is protection and it’s a very potent form that wards evil spirits, curses and dark magic. Most people know the witch bottle for this specific purpose. Why would someone need protection from evil spirits and curses? In the old days, people believed witches were everywhere and that they were the root cause of all the bad things: illness, injury, a poor bounty of crops, bad weather, etc. When folks felt like they were the target of a witch’s maleficence, they had to counteract in defense. Often a witch’s bottle was used for this very reason.
Another use for witch bottles is healing. In the past when people grew sick or injured they blamed it on supernatural causes. SO to heal their ailments, they had to dispel a curse or an evil spirit OR it was thought they transferred their ailments into an object like a witch’s bottle. This is a form of contagion magick, or transference, in which energy from a person is transferred into something else. We also see this form of healing in the Southern U.S. but also with a person transferring their illness into a tree or stone.
As a House Sacrifice
An ancient tradition, one that’s not upheld in modern times, is blessing a home before even building it. In Eastern European and other cultures, a sacrifice was left as an offering to the spirits of the land so that they’d bless (or simply leave be) the home being built and its future residents. Witch bottles were sometimes thought to be used as a sacrifice or as an offering to the land spirits or home guardian spirits.
Listen to our podcast on Witch Bottles & Spell Jars:
How Do Witch Bottles Actually Work?
We know how powerful they are and their uses, but HOW do they work? From a modern witch’s perspective:
Human personal effects like fingernail clippings, hair, a person’s piece of clothing and bodily fluids are put in witch bottles to attract an evil spirit or witch to their intended victim. It basically tricks the spirit into believing the victim is within this bottle. Then when the spirit or magic enters the bottle, the pins, nails and sharp objects within “stick” or trap the spirit and doesn’t let them leave. By burying the witch bottle, the spirit trapped in the bottle will also be “grounded” or put to rest by the earth itself.
Modern Witch Bottles to Attract: Love, Healing, Money, Etc.
I absolutely recommend casting a powerful protection spell on yourself by creating a witch bottle and burying it on your property. In addition, they can be made for other purposes and left around the house to draw magic to you. Craft a witch bottle for love including herbs for love and personal effects and keep it in your bedroom. If you need healing or money, craft witch bottles with related ingredients and keep them in your home somewhere linked to your intention.
What Type of Vessel to Use
You may not have a bellarmine bottle lying around in the house. But there are plenty of vessels that will serve as your witch’s bottle. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Old/used pickle, red sauce, mayonnaise and olive jars (clean them out well and cleanse them first)
- Spice bottles (glass is best but you can use plastic if it’s all you have)
- Mason jars with airtight lids
- Glass olive oil and vinegar bottles (you can purchase these at your local dollar store even)
- Ornate blue glass bottles (I’ve found these for cheap at thrift stores)
- Plastic jars and containers (again, glass is best but plastic will work in a pinch)
Here’s why we say glass is best when making witch’s bottles. It’s because if you plan on burying it, you’re not going to pollute the earth with plastic that literally takes an eternity to breakdown. If ever. But if plastic is all you have and your spell is crucial, use what you must. Just be aware of where you put the plastic bottle, so if you can dig it up later do so.
Potent Ingredients for Witch Bottles
In addition to using personal effects and sharp objects, depending on your intention you can add other ingredients like:
- herbs associated with your intention (rose for love, mugwort for dreams, etc.)
- stones or rocks
- blessed oils
- moon or holy water
- photos and/or paper with written intentions
- other personal small items
Using to Banish or Release
Craft witch bottles to banish or release something from your life THEN dispose of it somewhere far away from you and your property. You don’t want to banish an illness into a witch bottle then bury it on your property. Why? It’s not truly being banished if it’s close-by! Go far away and toss into running water, bury at a crossroads, or pitch it at the dump! To better understand how to dispose of spell remnants, read our article here. This is different from a traditional bottle for protection because evil spirits may be targeting you and your property – by burying a witch bottle on your property you are deflecting the evil.
What to Do With the Witch Bottle Afterward
If you’re burying your bottle in the earth, there’s nothing to do with it but leave it there. However, if you’re keeping the bottle in your home or workspace, you may wonder what to do with it after the spell has manifested. It’s truly up to what you’re comfortable with but we recommend disposing of any bottles or jars used in negative spell work. For example, if you’re using it to banish an illness or person, get rid of the bottle by trashing it or disposing of it far away. But if it was used to draw money, friendship, love, etc. you may choose to bury it on your property in the east. This allows the sun to rise on the results and continually feed it with positive energy. OR bury it in the west to allow the sun to set on the results. As in, it is finished.
Should you re-use a bottle or jar after a spell is done?
Many witches choose to reuse and recycle their glass bottles and jars after spells are complete. We don’t see anything wrong with this UNLESS you’ve used it to banish or be rid of something. In this case, it’s probably best to just get rid of it. However, if you’d like to reuse a bottle or jar from a positive working, clean it out thoroughly and then spiritually purify it before use.
How to Make Your Own Witch Bottle for Protection & Curse-Breaking
Warning: This traditional spell for protection isn’t necessarily the “fluffy bunny” aspect of witchcraft. I typically warn people when you cast a powerful protection spell like this, you’re going to be grossed out. Remember, witchcraft isn’t always pretty no matter what you see on Instagram, but it’s not the aesthetic…it’s the POWER behind it.
What You’ll Need:
- a sturdy glass bottle or jar with lid
- an odd number of sharp objects to “snag” the spirit: pins, nails, needles, broken glass, etc.
- personal effects: hair (find on a pillow or hairbrush), nail clippings, etc.
- small black candle (a candle that’s NOT in a holder – chime candle is best)
How to Make It:
First, before starting the spell, you should focus on your intention the ENTIRE time you’re putting your bottle together and sealing it.
- Put the pins/sharp objects and personal effects into the bottle.
- Add urine over the pins and personal effects (yes, this is the gross part, but TOUGHEN UP, WITCH!)
- Close the jar/bottle with the lid.
- Burn the black candle on top of the jar (be careful! Don’t leave the candle unattended. Allow the wax to spill onto the top of the jar. This seals your intentions. Burn the candle all the way down.)
- OPTIONAL STEP: you can “heat up” the bottle by holding it over an open bonfire (this adds more oomph but isn’t required).
- Dig a hole on your property a foot or so deep. Its best by the front door OR by your bedroom window.
- Bury your witch bottle with candle remnants. The whole time you’re visualizing any evil being sucked into the witch bottle and trapped for eternity.
- Leave the witch bottle. Never dig it back up!
The point of the spell is powerful protection and hex-breaking…it’s not going to be pretty like the bottles in this article’s cover photo…trust me! But pretty doesn’t always equal potent.