Halloween approaches, and the veils are thinner. Slipping from the spectral dimension into the human world is easier than at any other time of year. How did people of olden times protect their homes against evil spirits? Folk magic methods were always unexpected and usually secretive. After all, the good folk did not want the wicked to know their spells and safety measures, lest they find ways to circumvent them.
Shoes – Britain is famous for its beautiful and quaint ancient houses. During renovations and excavations, thousands of concealed shoes have been discovered in secret holes near doorways, on ledges inside chimneys, and in specially built cavities behind the hearth. It’s always one well-worn shoe, not a pair. Although not much is recorded on the subject, the theory is that the shoe served as a spirit trap for witches and malicious spirits. A spirit had to enter a home through some kind of opening, such as a door, window, or chimney. Since shoes were considered items of value and good luck, a witch would be drawn into the confined space by the hidden shoe. Unable to move backward, the witch would then be trapped. Another thing about shoes was that spitting on them would repel evil spirits and demons.
Witch Bottles – Stoneware and glass bottles were hidden in chimneys and secret cubbyholes to serve as witch traps. The bottles often contained a piece of heart shaped fabric poked with bent pins and covered with urine. The urine-soaked, heart shaped fabric carried the energetic signature of the person to be protected. The theory is that the witch or demon would plunge into the bottle to seize the person’s heart, be impaled on the pins, and trapped in the bottle.
Animals – Concealed dried cats and horse skulls have been found in some houses. Because these animals are close to humans, it is thought their spirits act as worthy sentries of a home and the people inside. Both animals are purported to possess the ability to sense unseen presences. Cats have the additional skills of warding off their fellow cats that serve as witch familiars.
Charms and Symbols – Many charms have turned up with astrological symbols, names spelled backward, and Latin holy phrases to keep evil spirits from entering houses. Symbols carved into beams and ceilings were also considered effective. The most common was a circle containing flower petals.
Brian Hoggard has performed extensive research into the old ways of building protection, and it is well worth taking a look.
If you lived hundreds of years ago, which method would you employ to protect the sanctity of your home?
Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Paranormal Romance