Skepchick Quickies 6.9


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Hmmmm…good thing they didn;t find all the Red Sox jerseys buried at Yankee Stadium.

    I’ve known a few folks with ‘witch bottles’ but always thought it was because they were too lazy to walk from the garage to the house where the toilet was.

  2. Gee…if a bottle full of urine is a good negative energy trap, imagine how good a full Port-A-Potty or septic tank must be! :-P

  3. An Old Bailey court record from 1682 documents that a husband, believing his wife to be afflicted by witchcraft, was advised by a Spitalfields apothecary to “take a quart of your Wive’s urine, the paring of her Nails, some of her Hair, and such like, and boyl them well in a Pipkin.”

    “Honey, can you pee in this bottle and give me a little of your hair. No, it’s not some fetish thing. I think you might be a witch. Well..I guess it is a fetish thing, but the other kind of fetish.”

    Let me add this to the list of the conversations that I never want to have with my wife.

  4. “The discovery of something so apparently bizarre, indicating a clear belief in witchcraft and forces that have nothing at all to do with conventional, approved religion, remind us that early modern England did not belong to the same world we now inhabit.”

    I like the world he lives in better, but I’m not sure how to get to his world, where people have apparently removed strange superstitious beliefs and magic rituals from the approved, conventional religions. Those crazy, early modern English, obsessed with women not acting properly, and convinced other people (the government! the apothecaries! the rich! the poor!) were conspiring to cause bad things to happen to them. Good thing we got over all that.

    So, how can I get a quart of Oprah’s urine, anyway?

  5. I have watched every episode of QI as far as I know, yet I don’t recognize this. Any information about which season/episode it is?

  6. This spell device, often meant to attract and trap negative energy, was particularly common from the 16th to the 17th centuries…

    Somehow, I don’t think people in that time considered it “negative energy”.

    Forsooth! If thou takest this jar of liquid refuse and bury it in the proscribed manner, thou shalt not only be rid of the “negative energy” that vexes thou, but thy will be blessed with skin at 40 that looks like when thou was virginal!

  7. Relics like this were mostly attempts to ward off all sorts of witchcraft. Things like witch balls were also used, but without the urine, obviously. These sorts of charms… well, ones that don’t contain urine as far as I know… have since been adopted by contemporary pagans, with the explanation that that they only block out the “bad” kind of spells, and let the “good” or beneficial kind through. (As I understand it, anyway. My wife is the real expert in that sort of thing, and it’s been a few years since she gave a shit about it.)

    The idea of “negative” energy in this context is completely a 20th/21st century invention, and would have meant nothing to the people who buried it, or prescribed it. In the 16th and 17th centuries, they would have considered all witchcraft “negative”.

  8. If Stephen Fry’s polite and concise explanation of his views on religion constitute a “Rant”, I’d hate to see what he’s like when he gets into a “Snit” or, worse still, a “Kerfuffle.”


  9. Seems to me that a vast majority of people who claim that their child’s autism was caused by vaccines are adults without autism who were vaccinated as children. Wouldn’t those things cancel each out? Maybe even prove them wrong, since vaccines were likely more “dangerous” back then?

    Something that’s been rattling around in my head.

  10. @MiddleMan:

    He’s always so calm and reserved. Even when he’s calling someone a jackass.

    That’s because Stephen Fry is composed of an alloy of class and awesome.

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