Friday, 22 September 2017

Witch Balls

The term 'scrying' comes from the English word descry which means to make out 
dimly or to reveal. A typical scryer was a wise woman, gifted with second sight, and 
often referred to as a witch. This ability is not limited to using crystal balls, any
 reflective surface will do. The favoured speculum is the magic mirror, preferably 
one with a concave side painted black.
Few witches throughout the ages would have used crystal balls for scrying, being too
 heavy and expensive, instead the more easily available glass fishing floats 
were commonly used, especially in England. 

Perhaps this is why sailors have such a 
strong belief in the power of witches, believing them to have power over men’s 
fate out at sea, referring to them specifically as sea witches. These sea witches were 
believed to haunt the coast lines around the country, cursing the sailors and willing 
the ships to wreck upon the rocks. Some believe that these particular creatures are 
the ghosts of dead witches and it was one of these ghostly sea witches that was, 
according to legend, sent by the Devil to assist Sir Francis Drake in his battle 
against the Spanish Armada This phantom  helped him raise a storm at sea and 
defeat the fleet. In return for this it was said that Drake bartered his soul
 to Old Nick.

Coloured glass balls often referred to as Witch Balls had another use, they were 
hung in windows of dwellings and intended to keep out witches and the evil eye.
These ,made from the 17th century onwards, would hopefully deflect curses 
and ill wishing. The bright colours of the glass was supposed to entice the evil 
spirits into the ball and then trap it forever in the salt or Holy water that had 
been placed inside. And by keeping one of these balls in your home it would 
prevent a witch from entering as traditionally witches supposedly do not have a 
reflection or can not bear to see their own reflection.

This tradition  travelled across the pond to America in the 19th century.
Although in other parts of America especially the Ozarks a witch ball had 
another form and use. It would be made from black hair rolled in beeswax to form a hard 
marble shaped lump. This is not for protection this would be used by somebody, 
presumably a witch ,to harm or curse a victim. It is said in this area that  
one of these witch balls would always be found near the body of somebody
 killed by  this curse.

The hanging of the protective witch balls in our homes continues today, the glass baubles on the Christmas tree originate from this practice. The use of these are supposed to deflect any envious thoughts when seeing the huge stacks of pressies under the tree!

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