When I was a child, my grandfather had an old farmhouse that had been built onto in sections over a period of 175 years. My aunts always believed that the back chambers of the oldest part were haunted by a long-dead young woman named Charlotte.

I don’t know the details of the ghost story, but I do know the spooky back chamber’s attic was where, years before I was born, they found — as well as the Cupid oil lamp that I’ve told you about — a variety of very peculiar objects, much older, hidden in the wall and beneath the floorboards.

dried cat - 1860s house ritual object (My mother still has an old leather boot that her brother found when he replaced the plaster of a closet wall, stuffed in with the mouse-droppings and old newspapers that served as insulation. We couldn’t imagine how it came to be inside the wall!)

Nothing as odd as a mummified cat carcass, however… or “witch bottles” filled with urine… or even a mysterious pagan symbol drawn in candle-smoke…

Ian Stapleton, who specializes in renovating and restoring old houses, sheds light on such strange discoveries as these. Apparently, they were intended as ritual objects placed in old houses and other buildings to protect the occupants from witches and evil spirits.

Rect Banner Ad SoftRock Pillows - Horiz 900x278

These objects have been found in the UK, Continental Europe, Australia and North America. The majority of such objects are found in buildings constructed before 1800 but they have been discovered in buildings dating from as late as the early 20th century.

witch bottles - Hampshire, UKIan suggests that ritual objects are more common than one might think, but not always recognized for what they are — even by some professional people who really should know about such things.

It’s important to document your find with notes and photographs, he says, and details some of the most types of common ritual objects to look for when you’re working in an old house. After all, that’s a piece of cultural history that tells more about the lives of our (quite recent!) ancestors than any public monument ever could.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Alexia Gomez Vazquez

    Im a Latin VuDu Pagan n I belive tis is not about making Spirits go away it has to see with Egyptians, dont they even shower the Cats with Gold n burry them with the woners. I want my Cat to B burry wit me cuz She is my Vessel my Ears I hold a Hidden code to transmutate part of my mind to my Cat n my Dolls I sence the currents of the Magnetic Fields n the underground Water Flows. Im very primitive yet I know Facts that Cience is far of. My people Knows From the Pyramides. I know the Fith Element n others around the Planet do too but they still f***in up n dont worry much Yesterdays WitchCraft will B soon a tool for every1 to use so we regain balance with the Universe n sure we will Dance Naked Under the Lite of the Full Moon n our Children will Live over 500 years n money n Orthodoxy Dogmatic Religions will be erradicate….Bless U B all n everything. Megalitika NeoPagana in FB

  2. domestika

    I’m so excited — Jules has kindly sent me a photograph of the dead cat “Lucky” found in Ireland, and given permission to share it with you.

    I’ll be posting it later today.

    No worries, though, if you’re a bit on the squeamish side about such things — discreet thumbnail versions of the photograph will protect the finer sensibilities… and the curious types can click through to take a closer look.

  3. Mitchell Allen

    After reading the linked article at oldhouses.com, I’m thinking this all ties in with Halloween, somehow, what with the cat and the witch and warding off evil spirits.

    That’s Halloween, alright: the one night a year when the dearly departed undesirables return to their “old” homes.

    The fly in the Cupid’s Oil Lamp is the prevalence of those old shoes in the chimney. Sounds like Christmas, to me :)



  4. domestika

    Jules, the idea of your dead Irish cat travelling about the UK rather intrigues me – any chance you have a photograph of it?

  5. Jules

    I have only just found out about dried cats. Foolishly I brought the one that dropped out of the roof in my old cottage in Ireland back to England. Now I really think I should take it back – what on earth will Ryanair make of it?

  6. tigergirl

    wow! our house is only 10 years old, so all we had was bad decorating, lack of maintenance and filth to deal with when we bought it – nothing as weird as a dead cat carcass (would have been easier and cheaper to get rid of)

Leave a Reply