Witch bottles, or ‘Bellarmines’, are a protective folk charm found mostly in England and the United States, and have been documented since the 16th century.
They were primarily used by non-witches rather than witches, to protect against ‘maleficium’, or offensive magic. They could also be used as curses.
A so-called ‘witch bottle’ was found with a cat’s skull in a pit during the WHS excavations at 25/27 Battersea Square in 1972 (WHS site code BAT II). This example used a salt-glazed stoneware Bartmann jug or bottle (also known as a Bellarmine jug/bottle) conveniently decorated with a medallion bearing the date 1669. As it was found in several pieces we do not know whether it was buried complete or was already smashed. The pit may have been under the floor or by the foundations of the house. Click here.
The rare witch bottle which was found on the Isle of Purbeck is thought to have protected cows from distemper. It is rather a strange case, as it contains no human vestiges. It was found buried below a wall on the parish boundary between two villages in 2005.
Dated 1830 this “witch bottle” was discovered in 2004 and buried in old foundations in the Lincolnshire village of Navenby. Discovered by accident during building work, the artefact initially sat unrecognised in a cupboard. Jo Butler, the house’s owner, described what they found. She said: “The builder was breaking up foundations with a pick and he came across the bottle.
“We saw it contained metal bits and this kind of strap but had never heard of witch bottles and put it under the stairs.”
Protecting hearth and home from such malignant forces took various forms, including putting shoes beneath the floorboards and walling up cats.
Witch bottles, often made from stoneware, were most common in the 1600’s, at the height of the witchcraft scares.
The Navenby example, however, has been dated at 1830, a time when such beliefs were thought to have been dying out.
“This late date is really incredible,” said Finds Liason Officer Mr Daubney. “Such traditions do tend to linger in more rural areas like Lincolnshire and Norfolk but this is very rare.”
This 17th century bottle, was found by a team of archeologists digging up the old Tipping Street car park in Stafford in 2009. The glazed “Bellarmine jar” was found on the site of the former Turk’s Head pub. The jar stands at around 6 inches high, and has a grotesque gargoyle design on the outside, designed to scare off witches. It is thought that the design was meant to represent Cardinal Bellarmine, one of the Roman Catholic leaders of the counter-reformation, who may have been seen as a bogeyman in protestant England and Germany.
Witch bottles were typically made from earthenware, stoneware, or glass jugs or bottles. The bottle’s contents varied, but typically contained a mix of Sulphur
Sharp things: nails, pins, thorns, glass, etc.
This salt-glazed jar was discovered 1.5 metres below ground by archaeologists from The Maritime Trust, a Greenwich-based charity that preserves historic sailing vessels. When it was shaken, the bottle splashed and rattled, and an X-ray showed pins and nails stuck in the neck, suggesting that it had been buried upside down. Further computed tomography scans showed it to be half-filled with liquid, which later analysis showed to be human urine. The bottle also contained bent nails and pins, a nail-pierced leather “heart”, fingernail clippings, navel fluff and hair. The presence of iron sulphide in the mixture also suggests that sulphur or brimstone had been added. “Prior to this point, all we really knew about what was in witch bottles was what we read from documents from the 17th century,” says Brian Hoggard, an independent expert on British witchcraft who helped analyse the bottle. These texts suggest “recipes” for filling a witch bottle, but don’t tell us what actually went into them.
Many which have been found, concur that the bottle would then be buried, sometimes upside-down. It would either be hidden, typically under the fireplace, or buried at the farthest corner of the property.
For protection, the idea is that the ‘taglocks’ (the nails, hair, urine, blood etc.) represent the person being protected. Any curses, harmful magic or spirits will be drawn to that bottle, rather than the person in need of protection. The baneful magic or spirit will then be trapped in the bottle by the sharp things.
It is also important that the taglocks are made of ‘dead’ material rather than ‘live’ material that is still connected to the person, such as blood or sexual fluids. If it contains ‘live’ material, the curse can supposedly still attack you from within the bottle, due to this connection.
For cursing, you would put the same items (or as many as possible) into a bottle and bury it on the target’s property – the idea being that the sharp things attack that person.
Additionally, a witch bottle could be created to break a curse. The victim would urinate into a bottle, sometimes adding sharp objects to harm the witch who cursed them, and throw it into a fire. When the bottle exploded, the curse would be broken and the witch would be weakened or harmed. (As a word of warning, there are better ways to break curses than risking being hurt by glass shards.)
If you choose to make a witch bottle, it is important that you are responsible. Do not bury items that are not biodegradable, especially as witch bottles contain sharp things! Instead, you could bury the bottle in a planter.
In the past, Scottish peasantry believed that elf arrows or elf shots (arrowheads of flint) also known as Belemnites fell from clouds and were used as weapons by fairies, elves, and witches to destroy cattle and humans. However, once these arrows were in the possession of humans, they could be used as talismans against witchcraft and evil eyes, as well as a cure for cattle that have been afflicted.
Sources and further reading
Spence, Lewis. An Encyclopaedia of Occultism. New York. University Books. 1968. p. 139
When I was little, I can vividly remember my Aunt Eva reading tea leaves, all the women used to gather around and listen to what she had to say.
I cannot remember whether to cup and saucer she used was a special one, one that was manufactured by the potteries for this type of divination or it was one of her simple porcelain china cup and saucer. Aunty would always have a doily present, to mop up any spills from the tea cup. Now these sacred geometric patterns are classed as ‘Shabby Chic’, but the importance of these and the tea cup are deep rooted, as a good friend Paul and mentor has said, “a wiccan doily, being representative of a neural geomantra, or the psycho schematic, that is given by the witch,through the written grimoire,verbal geomantra,or ritual in performance”. (Paul Welsh, June 2016)
Having had a little natter Hubby, about this, he told me his nan too, used to read tea leaves. We now live in an era where we hunt and capture (pocket) monsters using our mobile phones, practicing fortune telling using tea leaves at the bottom of the cup seems a bit absurd!
For Centuries, People Have Searched For Answers In The Bottom Of A Tea Cup
Is this a tradition now lost?
Trying to divine what the future holds is an ancient human preoccupation. And for centuries, soothsayers have sought answers in the bottom of a teacup. The art of reading tea leaves is referred to as Tasseography (or Tasseomancy) and is a divination or fortune-telling method that in western tradition interprets patterns in tea leaves. The beverage, Tea, is linked with herbology part of alternative healing and tea reading began to make its mark in popularity during the 17th century when tea was introduced into Europe from China. When tea first made its way into Britain from China in the mid-17th century, it was an aristocratic beverage, but as trade fueled falling prices, the general population began drinking it. Already culturally superstitious, lower classes were quick to use tea leaves instead of some of their cumbersome and often dangerous methods of divination, such as the use of molten metal (molybdomancy), hot wax (carromancy) or the entrails of animals (haruspicy). Tea leaf reading is still today classed as an art of the Romany /Gypsy, no doubt it is an ancient practice interpreting patterns made by tea leaves in the cup.
Reading Tea Leaves, by a “Highland Seer,” is the oldest book on the subject in English. Written in the 18th century, it offered sets of symbols to interpret tea-leaf patterns. The book talks about generations of Scottish “spae wives” (from the Norse spa, meaning “prophecy”) peering into their tea cups to tell of things to come. According to a wikipedia entry on this subject Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England have produced a number of practitioners and authors on the subject, and English potteries have crafted many elaborate tea cup sets specially designed and decorated to aid in fortune-telling. (Wiki, 2016).
So, I thought I would try and locate some of these cups which were manufactured via the Potteries. This fabulous website The Mystic Tea Room has a wealth of information on these beautiful divinity cups and is well worth a visit. http://www.mystictearoom.com/wiki/Main_Page
Aynsley is a reputable English manufacturer of quality bone china, the company was founded by John Aynsley in Staffordshire, 1775. This is an outstanding piece named the “Nelros Cup of Fortune.” This teacup is said to be from 1904. Like most fortune telling teacups this one comes with a fancy little instruction booklet titled “Would’st learn thy future with thy tea?… This magic cup will show it thee.” this also appears on the outside of the teacup.
Paragon is another recognisable English producer of quality china, it was founded by Herbert Aynsley (the great grandson of John Aynsley) and Hugh Irving in 1897. This teacup dates from the 1930s and usually is seen in either blue or pink. Along the rim of the interior it reads “Many curious things I see when telling fortunes in your tea.” I’m sure there must be a book to accompany this teacup. A variety of symbols are scattered about the inside of the cup, these are usually coloured fuchsia but the one pictured appears to be a reddish-brown colour.
Alfred Meakin Ltd began producing china in 1875. This Cup of Knowledge dates back to 1924 and has a distinct look that separates it from the aforementioned fortune teacups, it depicts playing cards instead of symbols. Here Cartomancy has joined forces with Tasseography to provide the reader with an enlightening divinatory experience. In this instance you would use the location of the tea leaves in relation to the cards to determine what the future could hold.
Royal Doulton’s popularity, is particularly know from their whimsical china figurines, but this is a rare find. Fancy see a teacup with a swastika at the bottom of it. This was before Hitler turned the symbol into a pile of ungodly puke, it was recognised as a symbol of good fortune, which gives u a decent indication of just how old this cup is.
1950’s typical stereotyping tea cup and saucer
Tea leaf reading is a fun, healthful and creative way to listen to yourself and open your psychic abilities.
The term also refers to the reading of coffee grounds, especially in the Middle Eastern tradition, by using the left-over coffee grounds from Turkish coffee turned over onto a plate.
The term has also been applied to the reading of wine sediments. The term derives from the French word tasse (cup), which in turn derives from the Arabic tassa (cup).
The Tea Cup’s Fortune-Telling by Harry Roseland (1906, dated and signed at middle right; this is a postcard version of the painting)
How To Read Leaves
Tasseography, otherwise known as tasseomancy or tassology, is the art of tea leaf reading. “Tasse” or “tass” is an Arab root, meaning small cup or goblet.
You need to find a cup with a wide brim that’s light in colour, find a wide saucer. Pour in lose tea leaves/coffee (you can buy loose tea leaves or rip open a tea bag) into you cup and add boiling water (Do Not add milk) Drink your tea/coffee while thinking about your question, if you dont like tea/coffee take a few sips. When you are finished drinking take the cup in your dominant hand and place your non-dominant handover the top of your cup. Turn the cup tree times in a clockwise direction. Pour any remaining water down the sink. Place the cup upside down on the saucer or a napkin and turn it clockwise three times, turn the cup over look for the leaves that have taken shapes. When you have finished your reading it is customary to turn your cup over, place your index finger on the base of your cup and make a wish.
Ronald Weasley: “Right. What can you see in mine?
“Harry Potter: “A load of soggy brown stuff.“— Harry Potter’s first attempt at tessomancy
Begin reading at the handle (or at 12 o’clock if there is no handle) and progress clockwise.
You can twist and turn the cup for new angles to find symbols in your cup, the closer the symbol is to the rim of the cup the sooner it will happen. the further down the longer it will take, tea reading can only predict up to a year. symbols at the bottom of your cup will take almost a whole year to take effect.
If two spoons were accidentally placed in one saucer, there would be news of twins
If a spoon is accidentally placed upside down in a saucer their will be news of a close relative becoming ill.
A single leaf floating on a full cup of tea means that the inquirer would come into some money.
A single leaf stuck inside a full cup signifies the news of a stranger entering the enquirers life
If the leaves are stacked opposite the handle, trouble is on its way.
If the leaves are stack by the handle, trouble is on its ways and the inquirer is to blame.
Abbey Freedom from worry
Ace of Clubs A letter
Ace of Diamonds A present
Ace of Hearts Happiness
Ace of Spades A large Building
Acorn Financial Success
Aircraft Sudden Journey
Alligator An accident
Anchor Success in business and romance
Angel Good news
Ant success through perseverance
Anvil conscientious effort
Apple Business achievement
Arc Ill health, accidents
Arrow Bad News
Axe Difficulties and troubles that will be overcome
Bat False Friends
Bayonet A minor accident
Bear A Journey
Bee Good news
Bell Unexpected news
Bellows Setbacks Bird Good news
Birds Ascension, good news
Birdcage Obstacles, quarrels
Bird’s Nest Domestic harmony
Bishop Good luck coming
Boat Visit from a friend
Book Open Expect legal actions, future success
Bouquet Love and happiness
Bow Scandal, gossip
Box Romantic troubles solved
Branch With Leaves A birth
Bread Avoid waste
Broom Small worries disappear
Buckle Disappointments ahead
Building A move
Bush New Friends
Baby Pregnancy, something new
Cage A Proposal
Camel Useful news
Candle Help from others
Cannon news from a solider
Cap Trouble ahead- be Careful
Car Good fortune
Cart Success in business
Castle Financial gain through marriage
Cat A quarrel
Chain An engagement or wedding
Chair An unexpected guest
Cherries A happy love affair
Chessmen Difficulties ahead
Chimney Hidden risks
Church Ceremony Unexpected money
Cigar New friends
Circle Success, a wedding
Circles great success
Claw A hidden enemy
Clock Avoid delay, think of the future
Clouds Trouble ahead
Coat A parting, an end of a friendship
Coffin Bad news Coin Repayment of debts
Collar Dependence on others for success and happiness
Comet An unexpected visitor
Compass Travel, a change of job
Corkscrew Curiosity causing trouble
Crab An enemy
Crescent A journey
Cross Trouble, ill health
Crown Honour, success
Cup Reward for effort
Curtain A secret
Cymbal Insincere love
Chair A guest
Clock Better Health
Daffodil Great Happiness
Dagger Danger ahead, enemies
Daisy Happiness in love
Deer A dispute or quarrel
Desk Letter containing good news
Devil Evil influences
Dish Quarrel at home
Dog good friends
Donkey be patient
Door Strange occurrence
Dove Good fortune
Dragon Unforeseen changes, trouble
Drum Scandal, gossip, a new job, argument
Duck money coming in
Dustpan Strange news about a friend
Eagle a change for the better
Ear unexpected news
Easel artistic success
Eggcup Danger is passing
Elephant Wisdom, strength
Engine news is on its way fast
Envelope good news
Eye overcoming difficulties, take care
Fairy joy and enchantment
Feet An important decision
Fir Artistic success
Fireplace Matters related to your home
Fish Good fortune in all things, health, wealth and happiness
Fist An argument
Flag Danger ahead
Flower Wish coming true
Fly Domestic irritations
Font A birth
Fork A false friend, flattery
Forked line Decision to be made
Fountain Future success and happiness
Fox A deceitful friend
Frog Success through a change of home or job
Gallows Social Failure
Garden roller Difficulties ahead
Garland Success, great honour
Gate Opportunity, future happiness
Geese invitations, unexpected visitors
Giraffe Think before you speak
Glove A challenge
Gondola Romance, travel
Grasshopper News from a friend
Greyhound Good fortune
Guitar Happiness in love
Gun Trouble, quarrels
Hammer Overcoming obstacles
Handcuffs Trouble ahead
Hare News of a friend
Harp Harmony in love
Hat A new occupation
Hawk Sudden Danger, jealousy
Head New opportunities
Heart Love and marriage, a trustworthy friend
Heather Good fortune
Hen Domestic Bliss
Hill Obstacles, setback
Hoe Hard work leading to success
Holly An important occurrence in the winter
Horse Galloping Good news from a lover
Horseshoe Good Luck
Hourglass A decision that must be made
Initials Usually those of people you known to you
ink pot A letter
insect Minor problems soon overcome
Ivy leaf Reliable friend
Jester Party or social Gathering
Jewelry A present
Jug Gaining in importance, good health
Kangaroo Domestic Harmony
Kettle Minor Illness
Key New opportunities
Keyhole Beware of idle curiosity
King A powerful ally
Kite Wishes coming true
Knife Broken relationship
Leaf Prosperity, good fortune
Leopard News of a journey
Letters Usually refer to friends, family, and people you know
Lighthouse Trouble threatening
Lines straight and clear Progress, journey
Lines wavy Uncertainty, disappointment
Line slanting Business failure
Lion Influential friends
Lock Obstacles in your path
Loop Impulsive actions could bring trouble
Man A visitor
Map Travel and change
Medal A reward
Monkey A flattering mischief-maker
Monument Lasting happiness
Moon Full A love affair
Mountain Obstacles, high ambition
Mushroom Growth, setback
Music Good fortune
Necklace complete Admirers
Necklace broken The end of a relationship
Net A Trap
Numbers Indicate a timescale, the number of days before an event occurs
or Numbers indicates time, months and years
Nutcrackers Difficulty is passing
Oak Good fortune
Oar A small worry, help in difficulties
Opera Glasses A quarrel, loss of a friend
Oyster Courtship, acquired riches
Padlock open A surprise
Padlock Closed A warning
Palm Tree Success, honour, happiness in love
Parachute Escape from danger
Parasol A new lover
Parcel A surprise
Parrot A scandal, a journey
Pentagon Intellectual Balance
Pepper A troublesome secret
Pig Material success
Pigeon sitting An improvement in trade
Pigeon Flying Important news
Pillar Supportive friends
Pipe Thoughts, solution to a problem, keep an open mind
Policeman Secret enemy
Question Mark Hesitancy, caution
Rabbit Timidity, be brave
Railway Long journey
Rainbow Happiness, prosperity
Rake Be organised
Raven Bad News
Razor Quarrels, partings
Reptiles Treacherous friend
Rider Hasty news Ring Completion
Saw Interfering outsider
Scales A lawsuit
Scepter Power, authority
Scissors Domestic arguments, separation
Shamrock Good Luck, wish coming true
Sheep Good fortune
Shell Good news
Ship Successful journey
Shoe A change for the better
Sickle Disappointment in love
Signpost Draws attention to the symbol to which it points to
Skeleton Loss of money, ill health
Snake Hatred, an enemy DNA, wisdom, or if the snake is attacking, an enemy
Spade Hard work leads to success
Spider Determined and persistent, money coming
Square A symbol of protection, comfort, peace , use caution
Those hoarse-voiced traveling gypsies or dark-hooded mysterious figures with crystal balls (I’m exaggerating here), are now known to practice the art. I
While the goal of this rather long blog is not to persuade anyone to practice tasseography, there’s nothing wrong in trying it every once in a while. It would be a fun, interesting, and relaxing activity for a tea party, regardless of the accuracy. It could also be used as a way to try meditation – either individually or in a group. The Japanese are known to use tea ceremonies as a form of meditation. And the most important reason for the tea lovers among us, you can use tasseography as an excuse to enjoy more tea!
“Every human is descended from a Pagan ancestor because the entire world was Pagan at one time.”
– Raven Grimassi
There is an old belief in Witchywoo that people can be “spirit taught” by hearing the “voice of the wind.”
This term denotes several things related to the tenets of Witchywoo. It is often used when speaking of intuitive/psychic abilities, and when referring to a person who feels directed, inspired, or to one who “channels” a spirit/entity that speaks directly through the individual.
Hearing the voice of the wind is sometimes used to indicate that a person hears the voice of spirits or fairies.
When we compare the size of Earth and Moon strange Geometric Synchronicities appear. The Magic Number found in these Geometries is 273, or more specifically 2732. This is an overlooked Constant in our Matrix of Reality. Here are some findings on this number:
1. The ratio of Earth’s diameter to Moon’s diameter is 0.273. (The Moon is 27.3 % the size of the Earth)
2. Comparing a Square’s perimeter to a Circle having an equal circumference, the Circle’s diameter is 27.3% longer than the edge of the Square
3. Inscribe a Circle inside a Square. The four corners make up 27.32% of the total area. This is reached through the formula: (4 – pi) / pi = 0.2732
4. The relationship of the Great Pyramid’s height to half its base is 1.273:1 (or 4:Pi) and thus ‘Squares the Circle’
5. -273.2 degrees Celsius is the temperature of Absolute Zero
6. 27.32 is the freezing point of water on Kelvin scale (K)
7. Absolute zero of water is 273.2% colder than the temperature it takes to boil
8. 273 days = average length of pregnancy (10 sidereal months)
9. 27.3 days = human menstrual cycle
10. 27.32 Earth days is the sidereal period of the Moon (Moon completes one full rotation)
11. 1/273.2 per C is the expansion/reduction of gas (Gasses expand by 1/273 of their volume with every degree on the Celsius/centigrade scale)
12. Sunspots revolve about the Sun’s surface in 27.3 days
13. Water changes phase at 273°K
14. 273 days from the summer solstice to the vernal equinox
15. 2,730,000 is the circumference of the Sun in miles
16. The triple point of water is defined to take place at 273.16 K
17. The Cosmic Background Radiation is 2.73 K
18. The Earth and Moon orbital periods are reciprocals. 1/27.32 = 0.0366 (366 days in a sidereal year) (1/366 =.002732) 27.32 days in one month
19. 273 m/s2 = acceleration of the Sun
20. 273 cm/s2 = acceleration of the Moon along its path around the Earth