Bottling Witches

Mark J. Janssen
4 min readNov 30, 2023

Some days things cross my desk in the morning news that I never imagine I’ll see. Today one of those was seeing an online article about witch bottles washing up on the shores of Texas. It has been so long since I’ve seen anything about witch bottles that I had forgotten about them.

Witch bottles go back centuries. The bottles washing up on the Gulf shores of Texas could possibly come from either South America or North America. Also, they have been found in various European countries dating back to at least the sixteenth century. The historian in me tends to take the educated guess that if these bottles have been around that long, they quite likely have derived from folk religions dating back thousands of years. That is how human behaviors and beliefs repeat themselves.

Now for the good news. Witch bottles are used as white magic to counteract black magic. If someone was suffering from an ailment that would not go away or if there was the suspicion of the dark arts, the urine of the person afflicted would be put in a bottle with hair, herbs, pins and needles. The bottle was then corked. It might be hidden in a fireplace, buried beneath the house or in the furthest corner of the property. Likewise, the witch bottle could end up tossed in a river or ocean. The belief was that the bottle draws the evil person or spirit, they are impaled upon the pins and needles and drowned in the urine. This ends the evil spell thereby releasing the formerly afflicted person who is restored to health.

If a bottle is found, it is not to be opened. Opening the bottle is supposed to release the evil spells or malevolent spirits inside. Popular belief is that it is best to leave the bottle where it is found. In the case of a person who picks it up and takes it home, the bottle is best left somewhere where it will be unopened and unharmed.

There are, as I’ve been informed, more ways than one to catch a practitioner of the dark arts. In Appalachia and parts of the South the witch bottles aren’t buried. Instead, they are hung from trees to catch the evil witch.

The purpose of the witch bottles is to undo the evil of a malevolent (black) witch and restore the person afflicted by a curse to good health.

Cogitating on all of this yet one more time, it came to me that what we honestly need now — probably what the human race has always needed — are good angel bottles. Many of us have heard of God boxes or God bags. They are used to write down a troubling intention…

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Mark J. Janssen

Mark Janssen is a spiritual warrior, mystic and author. His writes a weekly blog. His memoir “Reach for the Stars” is available online and in bookstores.