Photos by Magenta
Spell jars or witch’s bottles, as we in the UK would know them, are a cornerstone of folk magick. Ironically they were created back in the middle ages to protect muggles against evil witch’s curses, bad spirits and other harm-doers around the town.
But over time local village healers and cunning folk appeared to have claimed this back as their own tool to help their neighbours.
A spell jar origin story
Back in the day, folks would prepare a protective bottle by using their urine (noice), pins, needles, salt, rosemary and other odds and ends to represent themselves. As if peasant piss wasn’t enough, this could also include gnarly toenails or bits of hair. Or literally anything. Literally. Anything.
They would then fill a container with all this, erm, specialness, seal the spell inside and bury the bottle. Bottles would usually get buried somewhere on the property. These have since been found underneath fireplaces in really old houses. Really doubling down on making sure the witch didn’t find it and undo all that protection. Because as long the bottle remained intact, the protection spell would always be active. The bottle would continue to act as a sort of decoy, attracting all the bad vibes to the bottle and not the person.
Modern spell jars
These days, spell jars are a container of some sort (usually glass or ceramic) that holds all the ingredients in one place connected to the magick. It’s probably fair to say that the main ingredient is less likely to someone’s piss but who knows? Hey, we’re not judging. Tbh, could be way worse…
Anyway, the point of the spell jar is still to seal a spell inside the container, and then to strategically place this somewhere connected to the magick being worked. It’s not considered best practice to bury these modern spell jars for all sorts of sensible environmental reasons. Instead these modern spell jars can be kept on the property (just like in mediaeval times) as long as you remember to take it with you when you move house!
It’s also important to remember that spell jars and witch’s bottles were created to give a sense of permanence about the magick being worked. As such, they make brilliant devices for protection (either to protect yourself or your property) but they’re not ideal for something you’re likely to change your mind about one day.
Different types of spell jars
You can create a spell jar for anything, just remember that the spell is sealed inside so they work best for creating a state that is unchanging.
The spell jar can be for you. It can be for someone else (though you’re gonna need to ask them for some weird stuff of theirs….might be awkward if they don’t know about it first)
As we’ve mentioned, a great use for a spell jar is for protection. We have a video of one we made right here. Spoiler alert, it uses our bathwater, not our natural water. We still added in some construction nails, our hair and placed it on our property.
Something else that one would want to have long lasting is health and wellness. It’s probably worth filling this jar with something symbolic of an ailment, or something that represents a body part you’d like to focus on (Again go nuts with what personal stuff you wanna fill this with….No-one wants to keep getting cystitis, right?)
Banishing and binding
We’d suggest binding or banishing a habit, rather than a person. Remember, this spell is long term and you may change your mind about banishing a person. No matter how much they’ve annoyed you.
Are spell jars any good?
There are pros and cons with most spellcasting. For example, we work a lot with the elements, and fire is one of our favourites. So if you’re practising in a location where fire is going to be problematic, spell jars are a safe option.
Spell jars and witch’s bottles are fairly easy to make and store. So they are potentially a good place to start if you’re just beginning to practise magick. There’s every chance it might all get a bit cute after a while and as a practitioner you may want to diversify or specialise later on.
And there’s certainly more faff involved with spell jars, and potentially more cost. If you don’t want to buy empty jars, you’re gonna have to eat an awful lot of jam and pickles.
Plus the faff about storage and beyond. What do people do with all these spell jars when they’re sealed? We fully intend to leave ours in our wills (you’re welcome kids) but we only have the one spell jar, so not a huge imposition. But imagine if all your spells were spell jars? Will your family want them after you’re gone? Just a thought.
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