LIFE

Keeping Evil Out: 10 Things Folks Used In Order To Ward Off ‘Witches’ Back In The Day

by Grace Eire
Grace plays in a band and is the mother to a black cat named Fitzhugh.

Witches have been a great source of fear for centuries and centuries. In the minds of many, these evil beings and spirits have always been antithetical to anyone who considers themselves “good.”

The people of colonial America, in Salem and elsewhere in the colonies, were only some of the latest to go on massive witch hunts, accusing people of witchcraft for something as small as their hair color or age. The people of the Middle Ages were also terrified of evil spirits, witches, and the devil that they supposedly answered to.

This fear runs so deep in our history, that people have always been exploring the ways to ward off witches, trying to keep themselves safe.

Whether or not you believe in spirits or witches yourself, learning about these defense mechanisms throughout the history of witches from the past is both surprising and fascinating!

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Thumbnail sources: Wikimedia Commons 1, 2, 3

1. Brass Bells

1. Brass Bells

Back in the day, brass bells were placed around the necks of livestock to keep evil spirits like witches away from the animals.

2. Witch Balls

2. Witch Balls

One way to find out if someone was a witch or not was to see if the water rejected them, meaning that if they floated when thrown into the water, they were a witch. As you can imagine, as human bodies are made to float, many people were hanged because of this method of testing.

Witch balls are glass balls that were originally used as fishing buoys. They, too, float on the water, so that is where the name comes from. The balls were hung from homes to keep the evil witches away in the 17th and 18th centuries.

3. Mistletoe

3. Mistletoe

In the Middle Ages, mistletoe wasn’t just thought of as an aphrodisiac of sorts, but as a tool to keep witches from their homes and barns. A sprig hung from a doorway would do just fine.

4. Gemstones

4. Gemstones

Cat’s eye, saronyx, and ruby worn as rings or amulets were thought to keep witches at bay. Scattering small stones and pebbles on the floor was also supposed to keep them out of the home.

5. Salt

5. Salt

In a lot of European cultures, salt has been used to keep away all kinds of evil spirits, including ghosts and witches.

In fact, one of the methods for torturing supposed witches was to force them to eat tons of salt with no water. This use of salts can be traced all the way back to biblical text and ancient Scotland.

6. Hag Stones Or Adder Stones

6. Hag Stones Or Adder Stones

These rocks with naturally occurring holes in them were thought to keep the witches away. These stones have been considered either holy or magical for centuries, and have been used by many cultures and peoples for extraordinary purposes.

7. Charms

7. Charms

Dating back to the 17th century, charms, either spoken or written, were used to break spells from witches and keep all evil things at bay. Some written charms were kept on the person as protection, while others were hung in barns or kept in the home.

8. Rowan Trees

8. Rowan Trees

The rowan tree has little red berries that have a star, or pentagram, shape on the bottom of each one. Red was thought to be the best repeller of evil, and the pentagram helped the rowan tree’s witch-repelling abilities as well.

The tree could protect the home if it was planted in front, and its branches could also be used to make wearable crosses or trinkets for extra protection. This notion dates all the way back to classical mythology.

9. Iron

9. Iron

Early European folklore says that no witch can pass over cold iron. Many people buried iron knives in the earth around their home, and iron amulets were often made for wearing.

10. Witch Bottles

10. Witch Bottles

Witch bottles date all the way back to the 17th century, but their specifics vary between time and place. Some were filled with urine or nail clippings of the person thought to have a spell cast upon them and buried on the property.

Others were filled with rosemary and red wine to impale the witch’s spirit in the needles and drown it in the wine.

Did you know these surprising methods used to keep witches away? Did we miss any from our list? Let us know in the comments and please SHARE with family and friends on Facebook!