Blood Breaks a Spell
Enid Porter, Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore
Drawing a witch’s blood by cutting or pricking her was an effective way of breaking a spell and making her powerless to do any future harm. W.H. Barrett was told in his youth of how a farmer’s wife, near Littleport, was busy hanging up holly one Christmas Eve when an old woman, whom the neighbourhood was sure was a witch, came to the house begging for food. The woman forced her way into the kitchen and sat down in a chair on which the farmer’s wife had hastily put down a sprig of holly on the arrival of her unwelcome visitor. The old witch leapt up as if she had been shot and hastily departed, clutching her buttocks. The farmer, told of the incident on his return home from work, remarked that if there was no knife handy then a sprig of holly was as a good a way of drawing a witch’s blood as any he knew.