The Witch? guide to home security
LAST month I briefly considered how we have a right to protect our homes and how over the years have improved our methods of protection. But as the dark nights start to draw in and the trees shed their leaves, my thoughts turn towards the unwanted guests that no hi-tech home security system can ever protect us from.
So, with Halloween fast approaching, how can we protect our homes and loved ones from the evil spirits and witches that haunt the night skies?
As usual, I looked at how our ancestors dealt with such fears.
While researching this, I was surprised that many of the things we do today for luck were originally used to protect us, for example our lucky horseshoes. Many hundreds of years ago there were stories of ‘fairy folk’ who lived in the forests of England. They would steal children and prevent cows from producing milk. They were very afraid of their enemies’ iron weapons, and the best method of protecting your home from them was to hang an iron horseshoe from your door. Wind chimes were also designed to fend off bad spirits, as were bells on the necks of livestock.
We are not as afraid of evil spirits as our ancestors were, but if you look carefully at some of the very old properties in our region, you may see the ends of bottles lodged between the flint or bricks on the gables of some house.
These were to fend off evil spirits as was the practice of placing a pair of child’s shoes in the roof space; not creepy at all!
But probably one practise that I am very pleased no longer exists is that of bricking in a live cat behind the fireplace. Witches tend to have been the biggest fear for our ancestors, and I understand, although I have never seen one, that if you live in a very old house you are likely to see a witch’s mark.
These were ornate circular carvings, often found at weak points in a house, such as windows or doorways.
Another method of keeping the witches away are hag stones, which are large flint stones that have a natural hole through the middle. These seem quite common today outside rural farms or cottages.
But surely the most bizarre is the witch’s bottles. It was believed that if you filled a bottle with human hair and urine and buried it close to your house, this would protect your home.
If you think that this is all mumbo-jumbo, bear in mind that the last person to be imprisoned for witchcraft was Helen Duncan. Arrested during a séance, she spent nine months in Holloway prison in 1944. I must leave it there as I have a couple of Coke bottles to fill!
Above: Our ancestors were fearful of witches