Friday, February 17, 2012
They weren't always known as Bellarmine jars, though. "Bellarmine" is a reference to an unpopular 16th Century Cardinal whose face appeared on the jars. Originally, though, these jars were manufactured in Frechen, near Cologne, in Germany. Here, they were called Bartmann jars -- "bearded man" jars, in reference to the bearded face who always appeared on the side.
When creating a Bellarmine jar as a spirit house, the old, customary face can be a useful depiction of the spirit to whom you've provided a vessel. You can find potters and artisans who make contemporary versions of the old jars, or you can paint/carve/engrave your own.
Common contents of Bellarmine jars, for both spirit houses and curse/protection bottles, are hair, nail clippings, and charms/figurines. A spirit jar might also contain a few drops of blood and offerings related to the spirit housed within. A jar with the aim of both cursing and protecting might contain pins, broken glass, urine, etc. (Let's hear it for the power of intent in spellcraft!)