How to Make a Witch Bottle

A Centuries-Old Protective Magical Tool

Entrance to 14th century thatched cottage at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum
Typically associated with the United Kingdom, witch bottles traveled across the sea to the New World.

 David C Tomlinson/Getty Images

A witch bottle is a magical tool that has been reported in use for centuries. In early times, the bottle was designed as a way to protect oneself from malicious witchcraft and sorcery. In particular, around the time of Samhain, homeowners might create a witch bottle to keep evil spirits from entering the home on Hallow's Eve. The witch bottle was usually made of pottery or glass, and included sharp objects such as pins and bent nails. It typically contained urine as well, belonging to the homeowner, as a magical link to the property and family within.

Recipes for Anti-Witchcraft Devices

In 2009, an intact witch bottle was found in Greenwich, England, and experts have dated it back to around the seventeenth century. Alan Massey of Loughborough University says "the objects found in witch bottles verify the authenticity of contemporary recipes given for anti-witchcraft devices, which might otherwise have been dismissed by us as being too ridiculous and outrageous to believe."

Old World to New World

Although we typically associate witch bottles with the United Kingdom, the practice apparently traveled across the sea to the New World. One was discovered in excavations in Pennsylvania, and it's the only one ever found in the United States. Archaeology Magazine's Marshall J. Becker says, "Although the American example probably dates to the 18th century—the bottle was manufactured around 1740 and may have been buried about 1748—the parallels are clear enough to establish its functions as an anti-witch charm. Such white magic was practiced widely in colonial America, enough so, that Increase Mather (1639-1732), the well-known minister and author, inveighed against it as early as 1684. His son, Cotton Mather (1663-1728), advised in favor of its use in particular situations."

Make Your Own Witch Bottle

Around the Samhain season, you may want to do a little bit of protective magic yourself, and create a witch bottle of your own. Follow the easy steps below.

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What You Need

A witch bottle
Use any glass jar with a lid to make your witch bottle. Patti Wigington

The general idea of the witch bottle is to not only protect yourself but send back the negative energy to whoever or whatever is sending it your way. You'll need the following items:

  • A small glass jar with lid
  • Sharp, rusty items like nails, razor blades, bent pins
  • Sea salt
  • Red string or ribbon
  • A black candle
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Add the Three Items

Fill the jar about halfway with the sharp, rusty items. These were used to deflect bad luck and ill fortune away from the jar. Add the salt, which is used for purification, and finally, the red string or ribbon, which was believed to bring protection. 

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Mark the Jar as Your Territory

When the jar is halfway filled, there are a couple of different things you can do, depending on whether or not you're easily repulsed.

One option is to fill the remainder of the jar with your own urine - this identifies the bottle as belonging to you. However, if the idea makes you a bit squeamish, there are other ways you can complete the process. Instead of urine, use a bit of wine. You may wish to consecrate the wine first before using it in this manner. In some magical traditions, the practitioner might choose to spit in the wine after it's in the jar because—much like the urine—this is a way of marking the jar as your territory.

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Cap Jar and Seal With Wax From a Black Candle

Cap the jar, and make sure it's sealed tightly (particularly if you used urine - you don't want any accidental spillage), and seal it with wax from the black candle. Black is considered handy for banishing negativity. If you're having trouble finding black candles, you may want to use white instead, and imagine a white ring of protection surrounding your witch bottle. Also, in candle magic, white is typically considered a universal substitute for any other color candle.

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Hide in a Place Where It Will Remain Undisturbed

Now - where to stash your bottle? There are two schools of thought on this, and you can decide which one works best for you. One group swears that the bottle needs to be hidden somewhere in the home - under a doorstep, up in a chimney, behind a cabinet, whatever— because that way, any negative magic aimed at the house will always go straight to the witch bottle, avoiding the people in the home. The other philosophy is that the bottle needs to be buried as far away from the house as possible so that any negative magic sent towards you will never reach your home in the first place. Whichever one you choose, be sure that you're leaving your bottle in a place where it will remain undisturbed permanently.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "How to Make a Witch Bottle." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Wigington, Patti. (2023, April 5). How to Make a Witch Bottle. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "How to Make a Witch Bottle." Learn Religions. (accessed June 10, 2023).