Friday, June 5, 2009

Frightened of Witches?

Urine, Fingernail-Filled 'Witch Bottle' Found
by Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

June 4, 2009 -- During the 17th century in England, someone urinated in a jar, added nail clippings, hair and pins, and buried it upside-down in Greenwich, where it was recently unearthed and identified by scientists as being the world's most complete known "witch bottle."

This spell device, often meant to attract and trap negative energy, was particularly common from the 16th to the 17th centuries, so the discovery provides a unique insight into witchcraft beliefs of that period, according to a report published in the latest British Archaeology.

I'm not sure whether to cheer or cry. Every time someone unearths something like this, it turns into a hue and cry over whether witches really existed in the 1600s. This brings out the people who claim to have "Wiccan family lines going back to the middle ages," which drives me nuts because the term Wiccan did not come into use until the mid 1930s or later.

I do believe that something outside of the usual was practiced in Britain during the Middle Ages. There are enough folk stories around and archaeological evidence to show that something was going on. I do not, however, believe there's some kind of unbroken line of women dating back to pre-history who practiced Wicca, etc etc. We won't even go into how the common people of the Middle Ages couldn't read or write, as a rule, and therefore couldn't have kept a "Book of Shadows" or anything else of that sort.

That said, this bottle doesn't even have anything to do with witchcraft, except to prove that the common people believed it existed and they needed protection from it. It was meant to protect you from witches, and was not made or used by witches.

Ah well.
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