A Primer on Spell Jars

Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

If you have witch friends, or are a practicing witch yourself, you’ve no doubt noticed a fascination with jars and the collecting of them. And while everyone can appreciate a good container (here’s looking at you, Crystal Head Vodka), I believe that, much as with people, it’s what you put into the jars that’s really special. There’s precious little in this world that’s more special than magic, so let’s take a look at the basics of what goes into making the classic “spell jar” and then construct a basic “prosperity” one to get the hang of things.

Before we get started I’ll give the standard disclaimer. Magic works a lot like luck in Stardew Valley: it can help you catch that trout, but it isn’t going to bait and drop the hook for you. This is to say I don’t want to hear whining from folks that did the spellwork but couldn’t be bothered to finish their writing, submit an application, or breakup with that partner. You knew exactly what you were doing when you didn’t do it.

Spell jars also go by the name “witch bottles”, and so far as we can determine people have been making variations of them since we’ve been making clay pots. Whenever an old house is renovated or a spot of land dug up for a new building, there’s always the chance that you’ll find one tucked away. These can be as simple as a few herbs and a lucky penny sealed up together to bring good fortune to the house, or as complicated as urine, nails, and other nasty business to hex an enemy. If you come across such a bottle, the best thing to do is to leave it alone or try to relocate it without disturbing it too much. For the love of the gods, definitely don’t try to open it and take a taste. The appeal of spell jars is that the magic and materials contained within last longer than if they were exposed to the elements, but the mundane aspect to also consider is that even tasty ingredients can putrefy or ferment in a closed environment, so once you put something in, accept that you’re not getting it back.

There’s a simple formula to creating a spell jar: ingredients + jar + candle + intent = magic. Let’s break down what each variable is.

· “Ingredients” are just the components which make up the muscle of the spell. These are typically herbs, liquids, and items symbolically tied to the nature of the spell, such as a lock of each family members hair for protection spell or a coin for prosperity.

· A “jar” is any vessel that can be sealed up and prevent the contents from leaking out. I recommend mason jars or recycled glass jars from the supermarket.

· The “candle” is here for the purpose of sealing the jar and providing a fuse for the spell, signifying that the magic has begun and is focused on the contents.

· Your “intent” of course, is paramount. If you can’t work up the gumption to cast a prosperity spell for yourself…well, why are you even doing magic? Your intent, your strength of will, is lending energy to the spell, so it’s often a good idea to take some time before the magic to work yourself up and remind yourself what you’re doing this for.

· The “magic” of course, is the desired end result. It is the practitioner using their will and working with the subtle energies of creation to give things a nudge in the desired direction. You are laying a finger on the game board, so to speak, and giving your piece the barest nudge. You are an influencer on a cosmic scale.

Once the spell jar has been crafted, the candle burned out over it, any words you feel appropriate spoken, it is time to decide where to place the jar. For spells designed to protect, hex, or call an action to a location, burying the jar is the best practice. Here, the jar will merge with the natural energies of the earth, and the magic will do just fine on its own. For spells of a personal nature or temporary nature, it’s good to place the jar on a working altar or in a corner of the house where you will interact with it frequently. From time to time as you walk past, give the jar a little shake to reaffirm your will working on it, and when the spell has run its course or no longer servers you, plunge the jar into a basin of salted water, then open it and dispose of the contents.

Now that we know the basics, it’s time to move past being armchair magicians and on to practical application. Let’s make a prosperity jar using some things we have on hand, shall we?

You will need:
A jar
A green candle
Some pantry herbs (cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, star anise, ginger…any or all of them)
A coin

1. Make sure the jar is cleansed. I recommend using soap and water, then doing a rinse with salt and moon water if you have some on hand (if not, standard tap water is just fine).

2. Place the coin and the herbs in the jar. The coin is symbolic of the money and general prosperity you want, and the herbs all have wealth associations that will bolster the spell.

3. Seal up the jar, and then place the green candle on top of the jar and light it. I recommend using a candle only a bit bigger than a tealight, as you want to cover the jar but not have it disappear entirely under a mound of wax.

4. Stay with your jar as the wax covers it. Until the candle goes out, focus your thoughts on what having prosperity means to you, how much of a relief it would be to not lack what you need to survive, and, most importantly, how your prosperity would positively impact the world around you.

5. Place the jar in an area you frequent often inside your home, especially a working altar, bedside table, or entryway table. Give the jar a shake at least a few times a week, or each time you pass it if you’re especially ambitious.

Congratulations, my dear! You’ve participated in a centuries-old ritual as familiar to our ancestors as checking and savings accounts are to us. Speaking of which, it’s important that you don’t take your spellwork for granted, just as you should never ignore your bank account. What you’ve done is taken a STEP towards prosperity, but it’s important to take as many steps as you can towards it. Help those around you, learn a craft, become self-sufficient in an area, teach skills to those around you. Prosperity is a process, not a single act.

If you liked this article, please give a clap and share with your friends. I deeply appreciate the time we’ve spent together.

[Ashley Nicole Hunter sits on the board of directors for Bibliotheca Alexandrina and has been published in a few reputable (and otherwise) publications.]