DIY Tutorial: Witch Bottle Ornaments
As far back as the 17th century (and possibly before), people have been creating “witch bottles,” meant to protect the owner against meddling magical forces, or as a form of hexing against those they wished harm. These antique witch bottles have been discovered under floors, inside walls, and buried in the earth. Modern day witches have turned the idea of a spell-in-a-bottle to their own purposes, no longer using them solely as protection from other witches (because we try to get along nowadays, amirite).
Whether you consider yourself a practicing witch, or simply enjoy the aesthetic, these witch bottle ornaments can be a powerful addition to your household during the winter season (or year round).
You’ll need a clear glass (or plastic, for those with cats and/or kids) holiday ornament. If you like, you can remove the metal stopper from the top and paint it (spray paint works well).
You’ll also need items to fill it with, and this is where things can get as personal as you like. You’re only limited by size – the item must fit through the opening on the ornament – and I’d advise against using items that may mold over time (like fruit), unless you want to throw away your creation after a few weeks.
Originally, a witch bottle might have contained items like pins and needles, ashes, or red wine. Bottles directed at a single person may have hair, nail clippings, and urine inside, as these body sheddings were believed to stay energy connected to their owner. Modern witches do their own thing, including whatever items they deem pertinent to their goal.
Some suggestions for your bottle ornament:
-Salt, which many use for protection or purification, but also helps to keep the interior of your ornament dry, and will create a cushion for other items.
-Dried flowers or herbs.
-Seasonal items, such as small bells or red berries.
-With a nod to the historical uses of witch bottles, bones, nails, and thorns look pretty badass in these ornaments. (The nails shown are square nails pulled from the timbers of my 150-year-old house. I love the history attached to them.)
-Personal or nostalgic items. If the ornament will be hung somewhere you’ll see it often, it might be nice to include that rogue single earring from your late grandmother, or a slip of paper with a message to yourself on it. (Something like “Witches bow to no man.” Just a thought.)
-Crystals, which look pretty even if you don’t believe they do anything else.
-Essential or fragrance oils can be added to the interior of the ornament, or rubbed on the outside, turning them into tiny, short-term diffusers. If adding oils to the interior, you might want to soak a tiny piece of fabric with the oil so you don’t wind up with a puddle on the bottom.
You’ll also need something to hang the ornament with. I used rough twine and deep red ribbon.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies, all that’s left to do is assemble it. Items that are heavy (like crystals) should be inserted first so they don’t crush more delicate items. Very lightweight items (like dried flowers) should go in last. If something isn’t sitting correctly, you can use a wooden skewer to adjust things. A pair of long, skinny tweezers may also be helpful.
With everything inside the ornament, it’s time to replace the cap. You may want to add a dollop of glue to hold the cap on, especially if you’ve included heavy items within the bulb (hot glue will usually work, but for a stronger hold, go for something like E-6000). I wrapped the ribbon and twine around the cap to help secure it, and because I thought it looked nice.
Add a hanging loop, and you’re done.
Witch bottles were/are often buried, but if you don’t want to heap earth on your creation, pick a nice spot in your house to hang it. These aren’t water tight, so keep that in mind if hanging outdoors.
All photos via Alex Moehagen.