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prose and poetry by j-krumweed

lit and poetry by jamberry-song


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June 22, 2009
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Witch Bottle


To lift that bottle now,
hearing the pins and bent nails
rattle in their bitter wash,
is to shake his hand
come out at last from under
what held him –

to feel his measure of that
nearby something
at work between trips
to the butcher and the bank

as it wore his tongue
rough with accounting
broken panes of glass,
absent things, the gate
hanging not as he left it.

Its weight commends him
on the defense he buried
in keeping with tradition, perhaps
beneath his hearth a while,
then beside his door
instead, hidden and unbroken –

that bulb of earth filled
heavy as salt with mean
things – waste, nails, glass,
clippings of what used to grow
and what would grow back –

putting his whole life in,
tipping it upside-down,
pricking his unrest with what
lasts longest after all –

some fingernails, a knot of hair,
a strip of leather
cut to the shape of a heart.
I first ran across this story via the the preview image I've posted for this piece (which I saw here [link] at The Celler Image of the Day)

It's a hard image not to take an interest in, so I decided to read a bit about it. I looked at this article: 'Witch Bottle' Containing Finger Nails, Hair and Pins Discovered

Around 200 witch bottles have been found in the past but this is thought to be the first time one with its contents intact has been discovered.

Scientists have analysed the contents of the former wine jug after it was discovered by builders redeveloping a site in Greenwich, south east London.

They found it contained a number of pins, finger nails and hair as well as a liquid – discovered to be urine.

Burial of vessels holding personal items, typically from someone suffering an illness and believing themselves persecuted by a witch, was a common practice in the 17th century.

The belief was that the act would reflect the spell back at the witch who would then be forced to relinquish it. The pins and nails were thought to act like pins in voodoo dolls.

Analysis of the contents showed the patient was a smoker and probably quite wealthy judging by the length of the finger nails, the researchers told British Archaeology.

(which you can peep here [link] )

That frankly was not enough for me though so I read on:
London's Magical History Uncorked from 'Witch Bottle'

A rare insight into the folk beliefs of 17th-century Britons has been gleaned from the analysis of a sealed "witch bottle" unearthed in Greenwich, London, in 2004.

Witch bottles were commonly buried to ward off spells during the late 16th and 17th centuries, but it is very rare to find one still sealed.

"So many have been dug up and their contents washed away down the sink," says Alan Massey, a retired chemist formerly at the University of Loughborough, UK, who has examined so-called "magical" artifacts and was asked to analyse the contents of the bottle. "This is the first one that has been opened scientifically."

During the 17th century, British people often blamed witches for any ill health or misfortune they suffered, says Massey. "The idea of the witch bottle was to throw the spell back on the witch," he says. "The urine and the bulb of the bottle represented the waterworks of the witch, and the theory was that the nails and the bent pins would aggravate the witch when she passed water and torment her so badly that she would take the spell back off you."


(You can read the rest here: [link])

I think I might have more to say later and some changes perhaps, but I gotta go for now so it'll have to wait - it's time to take a trip :)

7/1
I tweeked a little of this and that last night, after getting back from 8 days in Orlando. Sorry for not getting back to everyone quicker on the comments and everything, :) but I'll catch up in the next couple of days now that I'm all unpacked and everything. :peace:

Dave Prisk

Oct 31 - A big :hug: to :iconprofessor-kirby: for tossing this one in the pillowcase along with the rest of the candy she shared in her Halloween feature for 2009. What a darling; what a dear. :heart:

Many many thanks to :iconashellessmind: for recommending this piece for a DD. :D
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Daily Deviation

Given 2009-09-27
Witch Bottle: according to the suggester, "*b1gfan has managed to get inside the mind of a human being from hundreds of years before him, and done so fantastically well. Read the first stanza and you'll be sold." ( Suggested by ashellessmind and Featured by fllnthblnk )
:iconkatarthis:
katarthis Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Congratulations on the DD. It's really something and this deserves every moment in the spotlight. You've created something striking.

k
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2011  Student Writer
Thanks very much my friend :D
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:iconmissycandoit:
missycandoit Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010   Writer
I love how this was written! I am familiar with the tradition and I must admit it's cool to see someone writing about it with such raw honesty about a bottles creation. Definitely saved to favourites :)
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010  Student Writer
Thank you very much Dana :D That's very flattering and I really appreciate it! :hug:

It's funny that in your ID you say you're here for your sister; I originally joined dA for my brother. How coincidentally funny is that :D
Reply
:iconmissycandoit:
missycandoit Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2010   Writer
Yeah, I didn't plan on joining but I was forced to so I could comment on her poems so I was tricked into it :D
Reply
:iconprofessor-kirby:
Professor-Kirby Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
You've been featured in this news article! [link]
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2009  Student Writer
Thank you my friend - I feel seasonally blessed :D
Reply
:iconcatgel:
Catgel Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009
Sweetie i hope you dont mind but ive sent this link to a few friends who will love it !....
I have a lot of friends that are interested in magic ... i just think this is awesome !a wonderful piece x have a lovely day hun & im saving your gallery until the boys are asleep later then ill look around thanks !:wizardhat:
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009  Student Writer
That is so sweet of you to do - I certainly appreciate the sharing and I've no objections at all. I hope your day is wonderfully lovely as well :D I certainly look forward to seeing you about dA some more :glomp:
Reply
:iconcatgel:
Catgel Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2009
Haha thanks..... & your little avatar is so cute !:chix0r:
Reply
:iconkirby-force:
Kirby-Force Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
How Do You Upload A Text File?
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009  Student Writer
If you go to submit a deviation you can select that option from the two choices they give you. :D
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:iconkirby-force:
Kirby-Force Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks!
Reply
:iconyokopyro:
YokoPyro Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
a fascinating practice and a lovely piece of poetry...well done!
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Thank you my friend - that's kind of you to say :D I appreciate your taking the time to read and drop a note like that :highfive:
Reply
:iconyokopyro:
YokoPyro Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
of course!
:iconflowerdanceplz:
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009  Student Writer
Yay! Flower Dance :)
Reply
:iconblanzeflor:
Blanzeflor Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
How did I miss this one?!
I was trying to find ONE word to describe this, and the one I've chosen is "brilliant" because it is!!!
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Well thank you my friend. It's very sweet of you to be sooo supportive like that and I appreciate it most mightily :D :hug:
Reply
:iconblanzeflor:
Blanzeflor Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009
I assure you, kind Sir, that the praise is genuine and sincere! :hug:
Reply
:iconstonedecker:
Stonedecker Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
Hmmm... It is kinda hard to wrap my mind around it, but what I did was the pain, which can't be hidden. If I am off the message, my bad...
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:iconpentacle5:
Pentacle5 Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
Makes me wonder whatever those people did when their bottles didn't stop nature from taking its course? Because of course that's all it was; no witch would curse anyone. It was a hard life back then for the witches, but this poem helps me to see how hard it would have been for others too. What a sad life it must be to believe that every single misfortune life brings you is caused by someone who wants to harm you for no reason you know of. To live in such fear that all that remains of you is your hair, nails, and urine, rather than your deeds in the world.
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
true - such a life of fear seems the worst of misfortune for one spends their days pinched by pangs of helplessness, ducking shadows, and doing to just about everyone else what they fear others might be doing to them. They create the very pains they hope to avoid. How much of life must get missed that way - and most of it without even a bottle to leave behind as proof that any life took place at all.
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:iconpentacle5:
Pentacle5 Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2009
Indeed, and how must one feel about her/himself if s/he believes that people, even bad ones, are out to get her/him?
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:iconbadgerworks:
BadgerWorks Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
Its nice to see something historically positive posted about us witches, (and yes I am one.)instead of the hollywood, or religious BS,(I'll be nice and not mention which religious group,)Good job, Greatly appreciated.
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
:D Finding the best of ourselves depends greatly on seeing the best in others just as clearly as we're willing to see the worst :highfive: I'm glad you enjoyed the piece my friend - very glad indeed.
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:iconbadgerworks:
BadgerWorks Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
Blessed Be!
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
:) :w00t:
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:iconwarpstarnova:
WarpstarNova Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
ha, i learned something new today.

i like how when you made a poem based on something, you explained it in a set of paragraphs that was very easy to read and wasn't just a wall of text, and you just didn't feed a link to Wikipedia.

:+fav:
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Thank you my friend - I am very appreciative of the time you so generously gave to reading the poem and I really appreciate your thoughtful comment too. Like you, I do like a little learnin' to go with most of my poems (If I can do it without getting preachy that is).

Thanks again - and for the :+fav: as well. :highfive:
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:icontworoads:
Tworoads Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
CONGRATS, MY GOOD SIR!! :D

`n
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Thank you kindly Noah :) It's a turn of good fortune indeed :highfive:
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:iconpumpkin-frog:
Pumpkin-frog Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Congratulations on the DD Dave!
And what an interesting piece of history.
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Thank you Regina :D How kind you are to be so supportive all the time :hug: I am glad to know you enjoyed the poem to be sure :D
Reply
:iconpumpkin-frog:
Pumpkin-frog Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
You're very welcome. Haha, you can only say that because I rarely comment on things when in a bad mood. :D

But Honestly I really did enjoy it, you did an amazing job. :hug:
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
:highfive: I'm sorry your mood has been bad but :hug: tomorrow will be better yes?! :glomp:
Reply
:iconpumpkin-frog:
Pumpkin-frog Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Oh, I'm not in a bad mood, but if I was I usually don't reply to many comments is all.

Tomorrow shall be better indeed though. I have my faith in tomorrow.
Reply
:iconfire-chan9490:
Fire-Chan9490 Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
Like those last two verses. :)
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Why thank you - I am glad for the feedback and very appreciative of the time you so generously gave to reading :highfive:
Reply
:iconfire-chan9490:
Fire-Chan9490 Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009
You're welcome! :D

I must admit, I had no idea what witch bottles were before I read your poem. ^^;
Reply
:iconcatgel:
Catgel Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
I just see this browsing and i cant believe it that you know about this ... I was born in greenwich i know its sounds far out but i was born in st alfridges hospital which is now called greenwich district !
ive played a few gigs there too in my old bands !Theres a amazing market at greenwich where peeps go from miles away & many good pubs where bands can play .Its also where greenwich park is and the greenwich nat observatory where sir isaac newton worked & many famous people of that ILK... Plus the greenwich national maritime museaum & the Cutty sark a old tea carrier of which ive been on many times !. This is awesome im amazed soemthing like this is out there but the internet age has been good bringing it out into the open..Ive just wrote a blog on winston churchils witch and he was actually a druid winston churchill was in the ancient order of the druids.....yet theres so many stories which in "The craft" are sacred.... and must remain so & not be told ......:wizardhat:x
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Hehehehe - glad to have had a part in setting your memory and your appreciations into motion :) Thanks so much for the comment and the generous gift of time you gave to reading.
Reply
:iconcatgel:
Catgel Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009
It was amazing darling ....
ive got a online blog on Msn live spaces all my witch sisters are on there ive just shared it as a favourite with them...plus weve got a online moot/coven (the agate sisters) of which my priestess "Tatty The bedforshire witch runs..... we love things like that ! Theyre probably all chattering & cackleing about it now !lol
Its a brilliant article you did !
Thanks for replying im gonna grab me broomstick & fly on down to your profile in a minute ...teehee !Gonna check out your gallery !I only came across you as i see it on the bottom of the browse page (fate):wizardhat:
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009  Student Writer
It is fate indeed. I certainly have no objections to your sharing linking or whatnot with the poem - it's an honor :) I thank you for the kind support and time!
Reply
:iconcatgel:
Catgel Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009
Wow thank you darling ! Your a very nice man & what a wonderful gallery you have i cant wait to look around (properly)!:handshake:
Reply
:iconlapoetry-n-photo:
LAPoetry-n-Photo Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
It's also believed that witches made these bottles in an attempt to ward of evil and persecution.
Reply
:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
Indeed it is. As I understand it, the jar most often used for these bottles, referred to as a bellarmine, got its name from the stamp of the menacing face usually put on the side of the piece. It is said to have been a representation made in memory of Cardinal Bellarmine, the Catholic Inquisitor from the who was especially dogged in his pursuit of non-believers and rather brutal in his willingness to torture those he caught, extracting confessions of witchcraft from them. He is the guy put in charge of challenging Galileo, so there you go.

Imagine - so many people all so scared of each other, using more or less the same tools to protect themselves because they fear that others are doing the same to them. Sheeesh.

:D Thanks for reading and for the comment Lauren. I appreciate that :)
Reply
:iconlapoetry-n-photo:
LAPoetry-n-Photo Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Agreed. I'm glad I wasn't living back then...I most surely would've been deemed witch!

:heart:
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:iconjamberry-song:
jamberry-song Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Professional General Artist
You always amaze me with the varied sources of your inspiration and what you do with them. This is an impressive little piece! Congrats on the Daily Deviation feature. :)

One thing I noticed---I think you meant "cut to the shape of a heart" instead of "cut to the shape if a heart" in that last line. No? If this is not an error, then disregard my comment.

Lovin' it. :)
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2009  Student Writer
:D Thank you J. A. - (and for the editing help as well - Oh my God, how did I miss that?!) I appreciate how generous you are with your time and comments my friend :D It's a pleasure to read your feedback - one that exceeds words :highfive:
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