(Note from Daven: This is simply a collection of folk traditions practiced in England. It is put here as entertainment purposes.)
If you wish to see witches at Halloween, there are several things which you may do according to ancient tradition. To ensure this special vision, bind together rue, agrimony, maiden hair, and ground ivy. This will, also if placed by the doorway, “keep any witch who seeks to enter fastened on the threshold.” Legend has it that if you use elder juice on your eyelids (the green juice of the inner bark), and if you are a baptized person, you will be able to see what the witches are about in any part of the world.
According to European folklore, strong smelling herbs such as hyssop, wormwood, mugwort and rosemary hung in the house would drive out infectious spirits. In the Orient, spices like sandalwood, cloves and musk were used for exorcism. Censing was employed to exorcise the evil spirits and to invoke the holy ones. Similar rituals persisted to our day in church ceremonies where incense is used to sanctify and to exorcise.
Here is a method from old Devonshire folklore to get rid of spells cast by wizards and witches: “Take certain medicines at certain stated times and a bundle of herbs. The paper of herbs is to be burnt, a small bit at a time , on a few coals with a little Bay and Rosemary, and, while it is burning, read the first two verses of the 68th psalm and say the Lord’s Prayer after. . .”
TO MAKE A WITCH’S BROOM
The handle must be of ash. This will ensure the witch from ever getting her feet wet as she rides over large bodies of water. The sweeping part of the broom must be made of birch twigs which hold the evil spirits, so that no matter how much they cry they cannot escape. They assist in the witch’s evil doing. The twigs are bound with osiers or willow twigs, for willow is the plant of sorrow. The handle must be rubbed with Datura (Datura stramonium), wolfsbane, monkshood (Aconitum species), and moonwort (Lunaria, silver dollar) or magic fern, to give the rider levitation that he (or she) may rise off the ground. The useful besom, an important tool in so many European gardens, is sometimes called a witch’s broom, and conversely, a besom may mean an old hag or witch.
The broom that witches ride has many uses. If laid across the threshold it will avert evil, if thrown after a bewitched cow or person it will protect them. At one time, if jumped over by a bridal couple, they were declared married. Flowering broom brought into the house in May presages death (in some English country places).
TO MAKE A WITCH’S WREATH
Some essential plants to use in the composition of a magic wreath are rue, cranesbill blossoms (which is the wild geranium or herb Robert), willow for sorrow, hawthorn, elder, alder and the berries of the rowan tree. Dill, valerian, and vervain may also be added. Oak leaves may be a part of this magical group of herbs, too. In medieval times, the oak and the ash were used for and against witches, and were thought to either help or hinder the witch, depending upon their application.
Rowan sticks (mountain ash) were carried in the purses and pockets of many country people in England in the last century as a protection from evil spirits, and can be attached to the wreath. Holly may also be used for it is hated by witches. The holly’s prickly leaves are reminiscent of the crown of thorns and the red berries of the blood of Christ falling to the ground, and therefore the plant came to be called Holy or Holly, and Christ Thorn. Bracken and ferns may also be used in the wreath and some branches of yew berries will add extra interest.