91. A Pair of ‘Witch’s’ Mirrors

Not illustrated
Italy, late 18th century
Size: 61 × 47 cm

There are many interpretations of the purpose of such mirrors, and indeed the methods for their use. Look on the internet and take your pick! Nevertheless, these are unusually elaborate examples. While continuity between pre-Christian religion in Europe and modern paganism is unlikely, an underground survival of paganism was claimed by the Egyptologist and folklorist Margaret Murray in The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921). It was she who donated to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford a small glass bottle, the accession label to which says: “‘This is reputed to contain a witch, and the late owner, an old lady living in a village near Hove, Sussex, remarked, ‘They do say there be a witch in it, and if you let ’un out there’ll be a peck o’ trouble.’”