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Witch's Bottle

From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: Witch's Bottle (Malevolent, not Protective)
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 18:56:33 -0800

eliza wrote:
> Wow! I make a simple Witch Bottle post and it turns up all over the
> newsgroups. Sorry everyone. *grins*
> At my mom's farm, in Pennsylvania, she had found some old which 
> bottles within the farm house. Now, this house only dates back the the 
> early 1800's. She has kept them in their little hiding place because 
> she doesn't feel right about moving them or destroying them. From what
> little I know (and I'll attach the rest of what I do have on witch
> bottles beneath this message), these bottles are mainly used for
> protection. 
> For protection from unfriendly forces, you can fill the bottle with 
> very sharp objects such as nails, pins, safety pins, and needles.
> If anyone can find anymore info on the witch bottles, I'd
> love to hear it! -eliza

In the African-American hoodoo or conjure tradition, bottles filled with
sharp objects such as pins, needles, or nails are definitely NOT used
for protection -- or anything nice and fluffy! They are used exclusively
in spells of malevonence and destruction. 

According to the oral histories collected by Harry M. Hyatt from 1,600
African-American informants in the South during the 1930s, these bottle
spells are used to harm others or cause marital spats and break-ups. I
don't have time now to transcribe a batch of Hyatt's informant's words
verbatim, but here is a rough guideline to what he was told. The
complete texts can be found in his 5-volime book "Hoodoo - Conjuration -
Witchcraft - Rootwork" (Detailed information about this rare,
out-of-print book is archived at ): 

     Typical ingredients for a harmful bottle spell: 

9 pins
9 needles
9 coffin nails (or other rusty nails) 

     plus one or more of the following saubsidiary ingredients:

goofer dust and/or graveyard dirt     
     (for recipes, see )
hot foot powder     
     (for recipes, see )
assorted "evil" roots or herbs (e.g. red pepper, black mustard seeds)
assorted "evil" minerals (e.g. sulphur, blue vitriol)

     plus one or more of the following items to personalize the spell:

urine of victim (called "chamber lye" in old accounts)
hair of victim
menstrual blood of [female] victim (from stolen panties or sanitary pad)
feces of victim 
name of victim written on a piece of paper

     additionally, to cause a break-up in a target couple:

hair from a black cat and hair from a black dog, mingled together
     (so they'll "fight like cats and dogs")

     Methods of deployment: 

bury the bottle where the victim(s) will walk over it
     (foot track magic)
conceal the bottle in the victim's chimney-corner
wall the bottle up in the victim's house 
bury the bottle at the base of the chimney outside victim's house
poke a tiny hole in the bottle cap, throw into running water 
     (e,g, tidal bay) so that as it sinks, victim's vitality will ebb
if feces used, fill bottle tight and wedge it into a hole in a tree;     
     (victim will experience stoppage of the bowels)
if urine used, fill bottle full and wedge it into a hole in a tree;     
     (victim will experience stoppage of the bladder or kideny disease)

Well, as you can see, the idea of using bottle spells filled with sharp
objects for "protection" is far afield from the norm in the
African-American hoodoo tradition. 

Different strokes for different folks, i guess...

catherine yronwode

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