How to Make an Ancestor Spirit Bottle

Spirit Bottles Crafted by the Witch of Forest Grove

Spirit vessels are used in witchcraft to attract, ground, and manifest spirits. For spirits of the dead they act as an anchor to our middle realm so the spirit is able to stay here longer, communicate more easily, and even manifest in some perceivable form.

Here is a simple method to craft a spirit vessel for working with the beloved and mighty dead. You will need a glass vial, bottle, or jar with a cork or lid, a skull that will fit on top (bone and antler are best, but stone or other materials will do), a candle (white, red, or black), and herbs associated with attracting spirits and summoning and manifesting the dead.

First layer the herbs into the bottle by sifting them one at a time through a funnel and tapping the bottle so the herb and dust settles. Once it’s filled up to the top, cork it tight. The skull can be attached to the cork with glue or with a pin pushed through both the skull and the cork if the skull is a bead.

My preferred personal combination of botanicals is: graveyard dirt, red ochre, powdered egg shell, bone dust (from my bone and skull carvings), dandelion root, balm of gilead buds, yew needles, and black henbane leaf — all are traditionally used to attract, summon, and manifest spirits of the dead. Always start with the heaviest or most finely powdered item and end with the bulkiest. If the spirit bottle is for you own familial ancestors then you may also want to add some of your personal concerns for an easier connection; hair, nail clippings, dead skin, blood, etc.

Necromancer's Spirit Bottle

The white spirit vessel contains the following – white cornmeal, powdered egg shell, marshmallow root, and bone dust and is used to attract and ground benevolent ancestral spirits. A bundle or jar of marshmallow root is commonly found on hoodoo and folk magic altars to attract benevolent spirits.

Next, before you seal it with wax, put a layer or two of wax paper down on your work surface to protect it from dripping wax. Light your candle and, holding it in one hand and the bottle in the other, tilt the bottle and turn it as you drip the hot wax on it until the cork is completely sealed. To even out any drips, just go over them with the flame to smooth them out. I wrap the neck of my bottles with sinew to finish them off, but that step is optional. If you choose to add the sinew (or yarn or cord) you can also tie and hang bones, feathers, or charms from it.

We’re not quite finished yet! Now it’s time to take your ancestor spirit bottle to your altar (preferably an ancestral altar) to consecrate it to its purpose. For full instructions see my Spirit Vessel Consecration RitualΒ in my previous article: Ancestor Altars & Rituals.

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Author Sarah

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  • Oo those are interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  • Ember says:

    Oh Sarah,
    Those are absolutely perfect. I love the little skulls on top. I’ve been contemplating my ancestors a lot lately, and had a visit from some of them enmass in my dreams, so to speak last night. This could not have been more timely for me. Thanks you always have what I need.

  • I’m following your blog for some time and I’m Italian. Now I’m starting to read books like “Treading the Mill” with great satisfaction because in Italy it seems difficult to find such books on our traditions and when seems good ones they are often mixed with elements of Wicca, more or less veiled.

    My question, if I could, was as follows.

    I know that in England it is definitely easier access to cemeteries and to work or take up the land, for working with the ancestors, but in Italy it is not the same. Where I live the cemeteries are filled with asphalt and concrete, well-monitored and deterimnate open only to hours when there are visitors.

    How can I curb this problem can not then use the land as a cemetery?

    Sorry for my english and the question is it may seem silly or meaningless … but I’m just at the Abc.


    • Paved over cemeteries are pretty common around the world. Sneaky ways include sweeping up a bit of dirt and dust from the concrete, taking scrapings from the cemetery fence or gate (if it’s a metal one), taking dirt from the outside perimeter (liminal space is still pretty potent), purchase graveyard dirt from a hoodoo shop, or, use dirt from a crossroad instead.

  • Kim says:

    I have noticed that marshmallow and bindweed grow really well together. They more or less over ran my garden this year. I dry marshmallow root and leaves for tea.

  • Pharmakeia says:

    This has “awesome sauce” written/spread all over it! (Was a geek-gamer still a geek, picked that word up from a guild in a game I used to play). Your blog is like…having the proverbial cake and eating it too. You know what? I never got that. What kinda evil person would give someone a cake they can’t eat? That’s downright stupid if you ask me! Anywho, l o v e this. Also, pardon me if my enthusiasm creeps you out, must be the Moon as I’m usually more composed. Blessings.

    P.S. Love the new sidebar.
    P.S.S. Is there something going on with the blog? I received an email with the new post so I read it there but when I came to the blog (by selecting the link in Faves) it shows me your last post on Alignment.

  • greycatsidhe says:

    Very neat idea. This reminds me of something a friend who went to New Orleans came home with. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is ever since. It was a similar idea – layers of dried herbs, beans, sea salt, etc… But it was in a plastic pyramid shape. I know there are a lot of hokey things down there for tourists, and plastics would make them a much cheaper purchase… It used to have a plaster sun attached to the top of the pyramid. Perhaps a home/fetish for a solar deity?

    I recently made myself a skull fetish for my ancestral altar. I made the skull out of polymer clay because that’s what I had on hand. It turned out well and my ancestors seem pleased with it. Your post gives me an idea of making a glass vase for it to sit in.

    • You gotta love the tourist stuff, the things they come up with!

      Never put salt on an ancestral altar, in anything having to do with ancestors, or in food offerings to ancestors – salt repels and banishes them. If you’re trying to get rid of a troublesome ghost or have a haunted object though, then salt is your friend!

  • Beautiful! I love your handiwork & creative drive, Sarah.

  • Laurel says:

    These are really lovely. πŸ™‚

  • Dominic says:

    Would you still recommend using a skull to top it if the vessel wasn’t for a spirit of the dead, but rather of a servitor or entity to manifest through ? I have seen several posts on spirit pots on blogs recently and the general makeup is the same, yours seems to be the clearest setup and the one looks great too. Would you use some other kind of symbolic carving to cork the bottle with ?

    • These instructions are specifically for ancestral spirits vessels, but yes, you could put just about anything on the top of the bottle. I’ve done animal spirit vessels before too. If it’s for a spirit or entity you could simply have no topper and draw its sigil on the vessel or use feathers or even a rock crystal to top it. As “new age” as some people think it is, rock crystal (aka quartz) has been used to ground spirits in this realm by different cultures around the world for hundreds of years.

      • Dominic says:

        I was thinking of adding quartz and maybe a clay animal head. I wanted to make up this type of spirit bottle to ground a familiar mouse spirit. Would the contents be the same, eg, red ochre, graveyard dust etc for working with a familiar rather than ancestral spirit ?

  • Absolutely beautiful spirit vessels and informative to boot! Your projects are a major inspiration and I’ve found many of them applicable in my own practice.