Made in England from the 18th century onwards and finding popularity in America in the 19th century, witch balls were the 'pretty' way to fend off witch's spells or bad luck.
The balls were hung in windows and could measure up to seven inches in diameter.Made of blown glass, they are usually decorated in blue or green (sometimes with coloured ornamental enamel swirls), or silvered to produce a convex effect. They look similar to the balls on fishermens nets, and are found in some sea legends and superstitions.
These blown glass witch balls are still sold today, from $10 to upwards of $200, although they are probably prized for decoration rather than their ability to ward off evil these days.
The American Ozarkians have their own take on the witch ball - a far less appealing one. They call a mass of black hair that has been rolled in beeswax into a hard pellet a witch ball. These highly superstitious people feel that a witch will throw the marble sized ball at someone she wishes to hurt or kill, effectively cursing them.Ozark folklore says that when a person is killed by a witch's curse (and I'm sure they often are) a witch ball will always be found nearby.
If someone tells you they got you a witch ball for a gift, know which one you're accepting. If it's slightly suspect that they're even giving you a present, you'd be best to back away.That's just common sense.
A witch ball is also the colloquial term for a kind of puffball fungus found in America. It burns for some time and was used by Indians to carry fire from one location to another.