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Author Topic: Witch Balls  (Read 4260 times)

DancesWithHorses

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Witch Balls
« on: January 16, 2013, 11:14:35 pm »
Hopefully I used the right term. All I know is that they are gorgeous glass balls. Can someone enlighten me on their purpose and origin?

Thanks!
Jinx or Jinxy :)
Add a dash of folklore, a few centuries of farmer\'s blood and mix well.
[/B]

LiminalAuggie

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 08:24:52 am »
Quote from: DancesWithHorses;91756
Hopefully I used the right term. All I know is that they are gorgeous glass balls. Can someone enlighten me on their purpose and origin?

Thanks!

 
They're the pretty shiny ones people hang up in their gardens, right? I think they're supposed to ward off or distract evil spirits. I'm trying to find a legit source for this from the pages of commonly-accepted folk belief milieu. Hmm.

Where I grew up, though, the only thing I ever heard called a "witch ball" were sweetgum balls, and those are supposedly useful for protection work. I had a tree outside my house and the balls were much more useful for tripping over the damn things several thousand times during the autumn and potentially breaking your neck.

DancesWithHorses

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 08:51:48 am »
Quote from: LiminalAuggie;91821
They're the pretty shiny ones people hang up in their gardens, right? I think they're supposed to ward off or distract evil spirits. I'm trying to find a legit source for this from the pages of commonly-accepted folk belief milieu. Hmm.

Where I grew up, though, the only thing I ever heard called a "witch ball" were sweetgum balls, and those are supposedly useful for protection work. I had a tree outside my house and the balls were much more useful for tripping over the damn things several thousand times during the autumn and potentially breaking your neck.

 
Yes, that's all the information I've found but I wanted something more creditable than Wikipedia ;)
Jinx or Jinxy :)
Add a dash of folklore, a few centuries of farmer\'s blood and mix well.
[/B]

Vale

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 09:01:22 am »
Quote from: DancesWithHorses;91756
Hopefully I used the right term. All I know is that they are gorgeous glass balls. Can someone enlighten me on their purpose and origin?

Thanks!

I have a couple of these hanging at home which are old family heirlooms.

They are both silvered  glass balls which reflect images like a mirror. Like a lot of old mirrored glass they give a lovely mellow reflection.

My Welsh grandmother told me that they should be hung in every window to prevent witches entering the house the theory being that witches can't pass a mirror.  We believe ours are early Victorian and probably originally belonged to my great grandmother. I don't think mine are earlier than mid 1800s.
 
They are also traditionally hung up by antique dealers in the UK.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 09:03:45 am by Vale »

LiminalAuggie

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 09:14:00 am »
Quote from: Vale;91830
I have a couple of these hanging at home which are old family heirlooms.

They are both silvered  glass balls which reflect images like a mirror. Like a lot of old mirrored glass they give a lovely mellow reflection.

 
What lovely heirlooms! Is there any chance you'd be able to share a picture?

LiminalAuggie

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2013, 09:20:50 am »
Quote from: DancesWithHorses;91828
Yes, that's all the information I've found but I wanted something more creditable than Wikipedia ;)

 
Hmm, it looks like the Nailsea glassworks was a big center of production for them, and there's probably more information in antiques sources than folklore ones.

L G G Ramsey's Concise Encyclopedia of Antiques seems to have listings for Nailsea glass and witch balls in volume 4 according to Hathi Trust, so you might want to check library listings? Here's WorldCat's entry.

Vale

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2013, 01:59:16 pm »
Quote from: LiminalAuggie;91832
What lovely heirlooms! Is there any chance you'd be able to share a picture?


Here you go



I've done a google search on witch balls and what a lot of rubbish comes up! The balls were never traditionally  hung outside!  Too delicate and too valuable. We take glass for granted now but that wasn't the always the case.

 This one hung in my grandmother's sitting room window and its mate in the dining room window. These were her only two main downstairs windows.

I have been casting my mind back to just why my grandmother was insistent that the balls must be silvered ( unlike the modern versions which are just fancy decorative glass balls). The witches cannot see themselves in a mirror or they will die ( their evil intent is reflected back at them and they curse themselves). The ball reflects every part of the room and the witch cannot hide.

Mine aren't hung in windows - I have two many to protect that way and besides I don't want to keep myself out. Instead it hangs as close the middle of my cottage as I can get it.

Emma Eldritch

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2013, 12:24:25 am »
Quote from: DancesWithHorses;91756
Hopefully I used the right term. All I know is that they are gorgeous glass balls. Can someone enlighten me on their purpose and origin?

Thanks!

 
I have one kicking around that my dad gave me, but it's not mirrored or silvered - it's green glass with these sort of strands of glass inside? Like this. I remember the card that came with it said evil spirits or whatever were supposed to get caught inside it, in the strand looking stuff.

I never hung the darn thing up because it's sort of heavy and all my windows always sucked.

Ashley1987

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Witch Balls
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2013, 03:34:09 pm »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;92044
I have one kicking around that my dad gave me, but it's not mirrored or silvered - it's green glass with these sort of strands of glass inside? Like this. I remember the card that came with it said evil spirits or whatever were supposed to get caught inside it, in the strand looking stuff.

I never hung the darn thing up because it's sort of heavy and all my windows always sucked.

Anybody know where I could buy ornamental ones? Silver or glass.

DancesWithHorses

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2013, 09:53:21 pm »
Quote from: Vale;91862
Here you go



I've done a google search on witch balls and what a lot of rubbish comes up! The balls were never traditionally  hung outside!  Too delicate and too valuable. We take glass for granted now but that wasn't the always the case.

 This one hung in my grandmother's sitting room window and its mate in the dining room window. These were her only two main downstairs windows.

I have been casting my mind back to just why my grandmother was insistent that the balls must be silvered ( unlike the modern versions which are just fancy decorative glass balls). The witches cannot see themselves in a mirror or they will die ( their evil intent is reflected back at them and they curse themselves). The ball reflects every part of the room and the witch cannot hide.

Mine aren't hung in windows - I have two many to protect that way and besides I don't want to keep myself out. Instead it hangs as close the middle of my cottage as I can get it.

 
Thank you for sharing! It's been really helpful.
Jinx or Jinxy :)
Add a dash of folklore, a few centuries of farmer\'s blood and mix well.
[/B]

Emma Eldritch

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2013, 12:34:59 am »
Quote from: Ashley1987;92161
Anybody know where I could buy ornamental ones? Silver or glass.

 
Google searching popped up a few online stores for me, so I imagine you could find some pretty easily.

PhantomQueen

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2013, 02:54:52 pm »
Quote from: Mama Fortuna;92044
I have one kicking around that my dad gave me, but it's not mirrored or silvered - it's green glass with these sort of strands of glass inside? Like this. I remember the card that came with it said evil spirits or whatever were supposed to get caught inside it, in the strand looking stuff.

I never hung the darn thing up because it's sort of heavy and all my windows always sucked.

 
I've a couple glass ones too.  One is green and burgundy while the other one is more tear shped (and heavier) and is mostly yello with blue/green spots.  The curtain rods I have at my windows seem a bit flimsy to be able to hold them (esp. the yellow one), so I've nested them in individual bowls and placed them out of harm's (cats) reach...

Olie

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2013, 12:40:17 am »
Quote from: DancesWithHorses;91756
Hopefully I used the right term. All I know is that they are gorgeous glass balls. Can someone enlighten me on their purpose and origin?

Thanks!

 
i never heard of these before but they sound really cool.

but also i feel like a new name for them is definitely in order.

Jack

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2013, 03:26:00 am »
Quote from: Olie;100595
i never heard of these before but they sound really cool.

but also i feel like a new name for them is definitely in order.

 
A new name? Whyever would they need that.

We have several witch balls. My wife really likes my balls, but I wonder if I should worry that she gravitates toward blue balls...
Hail Mara, Lady of Good Things!
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mandrina

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Re: Witch Balls
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2013, 01:51:28 pm »
Quote from: Jack;100628
A new name? Whyever would they need that.

We have several witch balls. My wife really likes my balls, but I wonder if I should worry that she gravitates toward blue balls...

 
<>
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