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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
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: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
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:iconprofessor-kirby:
Professor-Kirby Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
You've been featured in this news article! [link]
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:iconb1gfan:
b1gfan Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2009  Student Writer
Thank you my friend - I feel seasonally blessed :D
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: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:
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: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:
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:iconcatgel:
Catgel Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2009
Haha thanks..... & your little avatar is so cute !:chix0r:
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