Authorities in Texas are warning residents against opening so-called “witch bottles” that have been washing up on shores.
The mysterious bottles are often filled with urine or hair of the person who is believed to have been cursed – and are used to ward off spells.
The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi says it recently recovered one such bottle on the Gulf shores.
“Witch bottle!” wrote the institute in a Facebook post last week.
“We find these every once in awhile. Folks in certain cultures around the world put vegetation or other objects in a bottle.
“They are counter magical devices who’s purpose is to draw in and trap harmful intentions directed at their owners.”
Contrary to their name, “witch bottles” aren’t made by witches themselves – they’re made by people who wish to ward off a witch’s spells.
To make a witch bottle, experts also say nails, pins, and tacks can be added – alongside urine and hair.
The full bottle is then boiled, made to cool off, and buried inside or underneath the victim’s home.
“Back in the 16th and 17th centuries there was a powerful belief in witches and their ability to cause illness by casting a spell,” the McGill University Office of Science and Society says.
The goal is to cause the witch so much pain that she would eventually die from the witch bottle.
The origin of the witch bottle traces back to the Civil War — though some experts believe these bottles have Caribbean or South American roots.
They also advise those who find witch bottles not to open them, as they could “break the spell” of the person who was casting them.