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witches and how to disinvite them


In the comments to the thread below this one, there was some brief mention of the hex marks in Badger House. I thought I’d posted extensively about it once before, but all I can find is this brief mention.

Well. This house was built some time between 1505 and 1610. It’s a timber-framed Tudor farmhouse, with the timbers exposed on the inside (they probably were originally exposed on the outside, too, but this place has seen a LOT of alteration over the centuries). There are things scratched into the beams at various points, and we didn’t think anything of it. Just old graffiti, we thought. But, as it turns out, what we have here are classic ‘witch marks.’

Or, if you want to sound all sciencey and shit, apotropaic marks. Click that link, and you’ll see tons of examples that look exactly like these two pictures from Badger House. And we have since taken many pictures and had many a conversation about them in National Trust properties.


The one above is a hexafoil or daisy wheel, the most common apotropaic mark in English houses. It’s believed to be a very ancient sun symbol. Like prehistoric. It both brings good luck and wards off evil. This one is in the main beam above the downstairs fireplace.

The one at right, that looks like “TW” or “IW” we just assumed were somebody’s initials (they appear more than once in our house, above the fireplace in the master bedroom), but it’s another terribly common mark. “T” and “O” ward off evil somehow and the “W” is actually Marian — an interlocking “V V” for virgin of virgins, or an upside down “M.”

Or, you know, everyone is talking out their asses and no-one really knows. Some of the straight marks we’re convinced were made by the builders and had a more practical purpose. In a house near here, a series of room beams are marked, in order, “I” “II” “III” “IIII” and — tellingly — “V”.

If you want to read more about it — and, believe me, this is a real fun Google rabbit hole to fall down — try a search of witch marks, ritual protection marks, house magic or the charmingly named Wookey Hole. (It’s a cave. They age cheese in it).

Good weekend, folks — and keep them witches out!


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2016, 8:23 pm

Apologies for the not very good pictures. I just ran around the house and banged a few snapshots. One of these days, I’ll have to do it properly, with a tripod and lighting. Not that our witch marks are particularly impressive.

I think it’s significant that most of our marks are over the two fireplaces — openings in the house, where you’d particularly want to block evil coming in.

How many windows they had in those days, and whether they always shuttered them at night, I do not know.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 12, 2016, 8:49 pm

Your house looks like a Hansel and Gretel house. Hell, I bet you have children baking in the oven at this very moment. 🙂

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 12, 2016, 9:21 pm

“Historic fireplaces before 1680 are often marked with apotropaic witches marks to ward off evil spirits which might come down the chimney.”


I want a historic fireplace. I think you put “haints” – blue glass bottles on the window sills or hang in the windows to keep out evil spirits.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2016, 9:52 pm

Eh. Children give us gas.

Comment from Nina
Time: February 12, 2016, 10:28 pm

My house is so boring!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 12, 2016, 10:44 pm

Ah, but is it comfortable? This place is a bit like camping out, especially when it’s wind. Wind whistles through the walls here…

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 12, 2016, 11:47 pm

I can vouch for that. Without getting all personal an’ stuff the side of the bed on which the badger sleeps cops the full force of the wind (naturally).

And no, that was not a thinly disguised flatulence joke. I mean the real thing. Gales.

No rain though. So far.

Comment from Deborah HH
Time: February 13, 2016, 12:37 am

I know Windsor, Buckingham, and that pile of rocks in Scotland are old, but I bet the Queen does not sleep in a draft.

Husband and I have in times past, insulated various rooms and windows with “portable” panels of foil-backed foam insulation (covered/wrapped in pretty fabrics or wall paper). Nothing is permanent or attached to the walls except for little blobs of museum wax to hold some panels in place. We were always very pleased with this method.

Comment from Nina
Time: February 13, 2016, 1:07 am

I live in California, so unless the rain is actually blowing in the window, it’s likely to be open.

Comment from mojo
Time: February 13, 2016, 2:17 am

Cool. Any link to the four-leaved clover as a good luck symbol, I wonder?

Comment from peacelovewoodstock
Time: February 13, 2016, 1:38 pm

Ohhhhhh so that’s why Bernie Sanders has these all over his tour bus and t-shirts and stuff!

Comment from mojo
Time: February 14, 2016, 12:38 am

Scalia kicks the bucket. Anybody getting dick?

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: February 14, 2016, 4:08 am

Just scanned-thru the lot, no one had the late, great Justice Scalia in the listing as of 02/12, and, of course, it is now too late for such to happen…

Although, ExpressoBold did make note of the Justice’s passing after-the-fact over there.

All entrants may now resume former activities at leisure – thatisall.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 14, 2016, 5:13 am

Holy shit — SCALIA DIED? But that means an effing court vacancy on O’s watch!!11!! Can we delay past the election? Will that eff the election?

Oh, this is bad…

Also, he was a pretty good one (Thomas is my favorite, but Scalia was usually pretty reliably sane).

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: February 14, 2016, 5:54 am

“Can we delay until after the election?”

We cannot prevent Obama from nominating someone. If we were following the Constitution and precedent [and if pigs fly] that is all that he could do, because any nominee would have to be confirmed by the US Senate. Said Senate being in Republican hands.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

McConnell [for our Brit readers, he is the Senate Majority Leader, and a Republican. He does NOT have to bring any nominee up for a confirmation vote, ever, let alone pass it.] has promised that filling the vacancy will be left for “the next president”. 1) McConnell has not told the truth to Republicans for at least a decade. 2) I am extremely dubious as to any putative elections in November. 3) The convenience of Scalia’s death for the current regime strikes more than a few people as akin to the 6 coin tosses Hillary won to get delegates in the Iowa caucuses. We have not been a “normal” country with a “normal” political class for some time. There may be an epidemic of “natural causes” breaking out.

Further, the Senate is in recess, and during an election year will be in recess for most of the year. There is a thing called a “recess appointment” that up until now has only applied to EXECUTIVE branch vacancies, wherein the president may fill vacancies without confirmation while the Senate is not in session. There is no precedent for it ever being contemplated for the courts. But I am hearing rumors that the Democrats are going to try it.

And the Republicans have refused to resist the Democrats for any cause.

Life is getting interesting in the Chinese sense.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 14, 2016, 8:23 am

Time to carve some apotropaic marks in the Supreme Court building?

Comment from mojo
Time: February 14, 2016, 1:27 pm

The Turtle (that’s what I call McConnell, the wall-eyed RINO) has to convene pro-forma sessions every day, so the Senate never goes into formal recess.

Bammy will try and appoint in any recess, guaranteed. And, as a side note, Hilly has gushed over the idea of nominating Obama, should she become President.


Comment from Rocket Sled to Hell
Time: February 14, 2016, 11:53 pm


Comment from m
Time: February 14, 2016, 11:57 pm

I guess those 4 poster beds with the drapes all around were the answer for those drafty old houses…

losing Scalia means we are truly in deep shit. time to buy that reloading press…

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