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Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles

GUEST,Witch Bottles 04 Jun 09 - 07:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Jun 09 - 07:26 AM
glueman 04 Jun 09 - 07:32 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 04 Jun 09 - 07:55 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 04 Jun 09 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,Neil D 04 Jun 09 - 09:57 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Jun 09 - 10:14 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 04 Jun 09 - 11:05 AM
Sandra in Sydney 04 Jun 09 - 11:10 AM
Jack Campin 04 Jun 09 - 06:16 PM
Museum of British Folklore 04 Jun 09 - 07:13 PM
Neil D 05 Jun 09 - 02:43 AM
manitas_at_work 05 Jun 09 - 05:50 AM
glueman 05 Jun 09 - 06:13 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jun 09 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,LTS pretending to work 05 Jun 09 - 07:12 AM
glueman 05 Jun 09 - 07:28 AM
Jack Blandiver 05 Jun 09 - 12:37 PM
glueman 05 Jun 09 - 12:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Jun 09 - 07:42 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: GUEST,Witch Bottles
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 07:01 AM

London's Witch Bottles

Witch bottles were commonly buried to ward off spells during the late 16th and 17th centuries,

Filled with urine and nails and pins and fingernail clippings.

Fascinating article.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17245-londons-magical-history-uncorked-from-witch-bottle.html


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 07:26 AM

Excellent stuff! Here's the clicky:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17245-londons-magical-history-uncorked-from-witch-bottle.html

For more fun with witches & bottles see the Museum of British Folklore - discuss thread


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: glueman
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 07:32 AM

Witch bottles and dead cats are often found in old buildings. They favoured skulls in the peak district, probably dug out of nearby prehistoric barrows. I recall reading an article about a government agricultural inspector in the 1920s who said a pet skull was common in upland farms.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 07:55 AM

There's a famous pub called The Old Cross in Alnwick where the landlord dropped dead while putting some bottles in the window 200 years ago and they have remained there ever since.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 09:06 AM

Now there's a thing... I was going to link to a couple of articles re: witch bottles, on the MoBF thread this morning (as the supposed Witch "in a" Bottle in that instance, appears to me to be yet another example of this common folk-magical prophylactic), but didn't have time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 09:57 AM

Fascinating. Thanks for the link. I love history and have read quite a bit, but I'm always learning someting new, especially daily life stuff that doesn't involve famous people and events. This kind of history is just as interesting.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 10:14 AM

Ah, Alnwick... I'm getting homesick...

Here's the legend and here's the dirty bottles. I wonder, how many Northumbrian folk groups have been called The Dirty Bottles? Not nearly enough I shouldn't wonder! No word of witchcraft or malpractice though, just lingering superstition and a folkloric novelty by way of certain romance.

So where's these Witch Bottle links, CS??


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 11:05 AM

Sorry SO'B, nothing very exciting or revelatory, they just say the same stuff as above, though without the more current scientific backing:

http://www.apotropaios.co.uk/witch_bottles.htm
Cornish Witch Bottles

Even so, I did wonder about that Witch in a Bottle, as the artifact appears very close to traditional folk counter-witchcraft magic.

The bottle containing links (both constructed and physical) to the 'witch' would be in ways akin to a poppet or other simulacrum, and so be bound to her vital essence - thus in a sense 'trapping' her. Which perhaps, is where the item gained it's local reputation as containing a witch from?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 11:10 AM

fascinating - getting down into the gutter, I know about the oldest coprolite but is this the oldest urine sample?

It's not the easiest thing to search for on google - eventually I tried archaeology and urine & found references to this story & other witch bottles.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 06:16 PM

I have some travel photos of Croatia and Bosnia on my website, and one of the odder things is this:

Kosljun Franciscan Monastery

A stuffed sheep cyclops and two double-headed lambs in formalin jars. What message about the Good Shepherd or Lamb of God is that meant to convey?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Museum of British Folklore
Date: 04 Jun 09 - 07:13 PM

What the New Scientist piece doesn't mention is that the bottles were more often than not, made by witches, for want of a better word, or at least a person wishing ill on another, not as a means of killing or warding off witches.
Glueman mentions the habit of walling up a dead cat, which was to protect against infestation by rats or mice. Anyone wanting to see an example of this should visit the Museum of British Folklore caravan as I have one on loan from the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle.

www.museumofwitchcraft.com


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Neil D
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 02:43 AM

I've been told that variations of this practice are still in use although minus the urine (one spell calls for 3 drops of blood). Perhaps we've gotten squeamish about handling urine in our modern times. They are used to protect you from anyone, witch or otherwise, who might wish you harm. I personally know a Wiccan who has used these spells, always for protection only and NEVER against another person. If you go to magic spells, click on free spells, then on Jar and Bottle spells you will find several variations.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 05:50 AM

The famous Irish wise woman Biddy Early used a bottle for fortune-telling.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: glueman
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 06:13 AM

It probably goes back into pre-historical traditions, through the classical period of sacrificing a person as a guardian spirit. When ritual sacrifice got a bad press animals were used, which devolved into personal effects, hair and nail trimmings, etc.

We have a green man next to our front door keeping a benign but watchful eye and a Lincoln imp in the living room plus a jewel encrusted crucifix - I don't believe in taking chances.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 06:30 AM

"The bottles were more often than not, made by witches, for want of a better word, or at least a person wishing ill on another, not as a means of killing or warding off witches."
A similar tradition existed here in the west of Ireland up to comparatively recently.
An elderly local musician panicked when he found a number of hens eggs buried by his front wall, just inside his garden; apparently it was an old way of bringing bad luck on the occupants of the house.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: GUEST,LTS pretending to work
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 07:12 AM

"What message about the Good Shepherd or Lamb of God is that meant to convey? " That God moves in a mysterious way!


Glueman - I have at present, 73 green men, 15 dragons and one Lincoln imp in my dining room, a cross or a crucifix in the hall and front room and a further 400 assorted dragons about the house... think I've covered enough bases?

We didn't have witch bottles in Dorset, but we did have an interesting stone trough outside the back door of the farm... it was wider at one end than the other and was filled with water for the farm cats and dog, and any calves that we had roaming around. Took me years to work out it was probably a sarcophagus from the nearby abbey.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: glueman
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 07:28 AM

When my mother was alive she would turn all the mirrors round and put any cutlery away at the first peal of thunder. She'd also open a window and the back door to 'let the lightning out'.
From her description she saw ball lightning in a field behind the house as a child in the 1920s - though she didn't call it that, she said it was a thunderbolt that dropped out the sky and rolled across the pasture - which killed the horse and set fire to a barn. Years later lightning put the chimney through my bedroom roof in spite of the fact we lived in dense terracing surrounded by tall factory chimneys.

Since then I've always been wary of the stuff.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 12:37 PM

I passed on a lovely old Lincoln Imp brass toasting fork the other day, but was tempted by some charming Lincoln Imp candle sticks on ebay right now - seeHere. The bidding's up past £12 so no chance. I pick up brass Church & Cathedral souvenirs as a matter of habit - The Durham Sanctuary Knocker is a particular favourite - but, surprise, surprise, no Green Men! I wonder what the earliest instance of a Green Man reproduction would be? There was a chap producing resin paper-weights of the various bosses in Norwich Cathedral for decades, including one of a Green Man, but he's stopped owing to illness. Lovely things they were too!

Lots of fanciful Green Men around these days but Oakapple do some nice reproductions of the real thing (though they omitted the disgorging folige rom their Cartmel 'Trinity Face') as do Martin & Oliver Webb.

Doesn't Mike Harding mention an early GM repro in his Little Book of Green Men? Must check!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: glueman
Date: 05 Jun 09 - 12:48 PM

There was an interesting documentary on the Green Man I recorded maybe 15 years ago that included interviews with John Boorman (about falling out of a high tree as a child and being gently lowered to the ground), Harrison Birtwistle (Sir Gawain) and John Piper and others, plus a tour of green men in Scotalnd, Josef Beuys, etc.

I have an awful suspicion Mrs Glue dumped it a few weeks ago but daren't look yet.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Britain's Witch Bottles
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Jun 09 - 07:42 AM

"The famous Irish wise woman Biddy Early used a bottle for fortune-telling."

In search of Biddie Early by the incomparable storyteller Eddie Lenihan.

And here is Eddie Lenihan himself talking about scary fairies and suchlike.


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