Witch’s cursing bone

Witch’s cursing bone. “A few years ago, the present writer came across a witch’s cursing bone…which had been the property of an old woman, a reputed witch, who lived near the head of Glen Shira, in Argyll, and who died there at the beginning of the present century [1900]. Such was her reputation that even after her death none of the Glen people would touch any of her possessions, and it was the minister…who found the bone upon the window ledge in her cottage. He took it away as a curiosity…in 1944 it was presented…to the Scottish National Museum of Antiquities.
“According to tradition, when the ‘witch’ wanted to ‘ill-wish’ a neighbour, she took her cursing bone and made her way to his croft between sunset and cock-crow. She did not go into the dwelling house, however, but made for the hen-house; and seizing the hen that sat next to the rooster (his favourite), she thrawed its neck and poured its blood through the hollow bone, uttering curses the while.
“The bone, which appears to be that of a deer, has been stained by age to a deep Ivory. It is enclosed in a ring of dark bog oak, roughly oval in shape. This is obviously a phallic symbol, to which the ‘witches’ we’re notoriously addicted.”

F. Marian McNeill, ‘The Silver Bough’ p.153/4 , Edinburgh 2001.F4B075CD-EDB2-4456-9423-C0E8BA12D702

National Museum of Scotland

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