The witches burr (also called witch balls, spike balls, and sweet gum balls) has been an integral part American Folk magic and Hoodoo for centuries. They are used as the base for amulets, charms, as alter icons, and for spell work. One look at the rows of sharp spikes says all you need to know. These are for protection magic. They are also used in several others ways and have a litany of properties. But before we look at the different magical uses for witches burr, let’s take a quick trail down biology lane. If you are a practicing witch, you’ll agree that it’s always good to understand as much as you can about any tree, plant, or living thing that you will incorporate into your personal practice or spell workings.
Witches burr are actually seed pods from the sweet gum tree, which is found in the southeastern part of the United States, Mexico, and Central America. The tree is a deciduous fast growing tree in the witch hazel family. It can reach heights ranging from 60 feet to 100 feet tall. The foliage is palmate, like a maple leaf, but more star-shaped. The sweet gum is considered a “must have” for many landscapers throughout the south, mainly because it has such character. The leaves are a glossy green in the spring and summer, before turning to vivid red, yellow and sometimes purple in the fall. The tree flowers in the spring, and those flowers quickly develop into round, brown seed pods that are covered with tiny, wicked-looking spikes; behold, the witches burr. Each of the hard balls have between 80 and 120 spikes, which are actually the terminal ends of the numerous seed capsules clumped together.
Magical Uses of Witches Burr
Witches Burr are associated with protection. They are essentially seed pods that have evolved to grow spikes to protect the seed.
On the Altar or in the Household:
Some practitioners keep witches burr on their altars as they are believed to keep negativity away, bring good luck, and keep unwanted company away from your house. They are also said to add power to any altar that they sit upon, which means they increase potency of any magical workings done on that altar.
They are said to attract good spirits. Some people hang them in entrance ways to serve as a protective energy block to the open space. Others hang them in windows, just as you would a witch ball.
Some believe witches burr can be used to create a magical gateway.
You can carry a witches burr in a mojo bag or on your person for protection.
In Spells, Charms, and Rituals
They are used in spells and charms for breaking curses and hexes, burned in ritual fires for protection within the circle, and purported to add power to any spell or magical working.
Grind the entire witches burr into a powder using a mortar and pestle, and use for protection as you would Black Salt. Also used for fertility spell work.
Witches burr are made into amulets for prosperity, wealth attraction, protection, and fertility.
Used in protection charms, to charge other items with positive energy, and to remove negative energy.
They are also used to stuff spell ingredients into. Once stuffed, they can be sealed with wax and placed anywhere as a long-term spell of protection. Conversely, they can be filled with nastiness, sealed with black wax, and with the right intention and casually dropped near your house, you may find yourself cursed.