Weird and Scary Rituals Performed Around the World

Over the years, it is no secret that many weird and scary rituals have taken place. In fact, some still take place today. Historically, many of these weird and scary rituals, performed in order to protect one’s home, seem to have been quite similar to one another. So let’s check out 5 weird and scary rituals that are being performed around the world, even today.

5. Witch Bottles

A ceramic Witch Bottle used in weird and scary rituals

A witch bottle is a unique ritual. Despite their name, they are one of the few weird and scary rituals that aren’t actually made by witches. Average people typically create witch bottles to find protection against unknown energies and spirits.

They are usually filled with vile ingredients. Historically, these bottles have either been made by folk healers or a trusted witch. If one believed they knew someone possessed by a spirit, that person’s urine, nail clippings, or hair were a pivotal ingredient of the witch bottle. These bottles were also filled with needles, pins, rosemary, and red wine.

The belief is that the spirits will be attracted to the victim’s ingredients, trapped by the pins and needles, forced to drown in the wine, and banished by the rosemary. These bottles were typically hidden away in the furthest corner of one’s property.

The first mention of a witch bottle appears in a 1681 book by one Joseph Glavill, “Saducismus Triumphatus”, or “Evidence concerning Witches and Apparitions”.

These bottles were constructed to bring peace to a household and to drive away malicious spirits. They are quite complex to study since they were sometimes made by witches, and other times made to drive witches away.

A more recent example of witch bottles being used in the United States dates back to the Civil War. It is said that Union soldiers may have buried witch bottles in order to keep themselves safe from Confederate troops. This is only a theory, as it is highly possible the troops would have no other way to dispose of common witch bottle ingredients, such as urine, without creating a historical misnomer.

4. Mysterious Frog Coffins

Frog Coffins, Finland. Used in weird and scary rituals.
TMK/Mikko Kyynäräinen

Frog coffins are a form of folk magic performed in Finland. Just as the name implies, frogs were put into tiny coffins and often buried in secret locations.

These weird and scary rituals were actually meant to work as counter-magic, just like witch bottles. Dating back to the early 20th century, there are some scary rituals involving frog coffins that have managed to be recorded. However, these more malicious rituals make up a smaller percentage.

Generally, frogs are chosen to represent amphibian and aquatic life. The initial lore of the frog coffin involved taking the luck of successful fishermen and harnessing it for the folk magic of the frog coffin. That luck is then diffused into magic and reflected back at malicious spirits.

The recorded uses of frog coffins range from benevolent attempts to cure epilepsy, to malevolent intent to kill. It was thought that the magic generated by such coffins was powerful enough to accomplish a wide range of effects.

Folklore archives from all over Finland document the many instances of these coffins having been buried for multiple purposes. The consistent factor between them is the importance of the coffin itself. Some similar coffins have been found in the area containing other animals and objects. However, because their method and intent seem to be the same, these objects are often grouped together with frog coffins.

It is worth noting that many of these coffins have been found in churches all over Finland due to the structural integrity and longevity of such buildings over the years.

3. Weird and Scary Rituals: Feeding the Dead

Food and drink offering on a grave.

The practice of offering food and libations to the dead is widespread. The form and method may have changed throughout history, but it is a common pastime.

It is noted that the practice of pouring a small amount of wine on a grave has long been popular between Egypt and Greece. In ancient Rome, this process was taken to an entirely new level. Libation tubes were made to flow directly to the inside of graves. This meant the dead could partake in food and drink in a purer form.

These offerings typically first came during a feast known as cena novemdialis. This marked the end of the nine-day Roman grieving period after a loved one’s death. The family would share a meal at the loved one’s grave, pouring food and drink down the libation tube. This and other Roman celebrations were later put to an end by Christian leadership. These rituals were considered pagan and offensive.

A tradition of pouring vodka onto the graves of loved ones lives on in Russia today. Some Chinese cultures offer wine or tea at the tombstones of the deceased. Japanese culture puts particular emphasis on making careful offerings at the shrines of the dead.

The Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is well-known for its offerings. The graves of loved ones are populated with large amounts of their favorite food and drink. These are later enjoyed by the living.

These practices typically involve sharing food or drink between the living and the dead. The ideas is to replicate the feeling of sharing a meal with a loved one, even in death.

While these practices are so widespread, the slight cultural differences in how they are carried out is worth noting.

2. Hidden Shoes and Boots

Old shoes hidden as a protective ritual.

Like many of the weird rituals mentioned on this list, the tradition of hiding shoes and boots was carried out for different reasons.

Shoes were often hidden in order to protect a home against spirits. For some, it was was a chance to perform benevolent magic, working as fertility charms. The practise dates back to the 14th Century and was widespread in Britain.

These shoes and boots were typically hidden in homes, often inside of walls. But they were also hidden in businesses or factories in order to bring them good luck, or to ward away any accidents.

Whether or not they worked, we can’t be sure. Though these shoes have provided historians with an accurate picture of shoes through the ages. The hidden shoes were typically worn out and in need or repair, discarded because they were of no use anymore.

Like many seemingly weird and scary rituals, this one has been deemed to be protective in origin. They believed witches and spirits were attracted to the human scent attached to the worn out shoes.

By hiding a worn and scented shoe in one’s home or business, it was thought it would act as a lure for malevolent spirits. It was then thought that the spirit would find itself trapped. Other theories propose the practice to be related to the idea of benevolent house spirits.

In the latter instance, the shoes were meant to be thought of as offerings to the benevolent spirits. In turn, the spirits would act to protect the home.

Either way, the ritual was so widespread that thousands of such shoes have been discovered over the whole of Britain.

1. Weird and Scary Rituals: Hiding Dried Cats

Mummified cats hidden in walls as part of scary rituals.

Perhaps the weirdest of the weird rituals is the historical practice of hiding dead or mummified cats in the walls of buildings. Oddly enough, these cats seem to be widely found in the same buildings as boots and witch bottles. This suggests superstitious people of the time often found themselves doubling, or tripling down on protective charms for their home.

It is thought that the idea of mummifying cats was lifted from the ancient Egyptian practice. Cats were deified in Egypt, so some of that reverence made its way over to Britain.

Associated with fertility, justice, and power, it is thought that this reverence was reflected in these slightly weird and scary rituals.

What is interesting about this ritual is that there is often debate amongst scholars in regard to particular instances. In many cases, it appears highly likely that a household cat had simply gotten stuck in a crawl space and died, making it seem as though a ritual had taken place.

However, in the hundreds of other cases in question, these cats appear to have been posed on purpose. They have been made to appear as though they are on the hunt or in a defensive position. In this instance, it seems clear the cat has been posed to take on the role of the protective deity of one’s home.

Perhaps even more apropos, it is thought that in addition to driving away witches, these cats were meant to ward off the familiars of witches, who were often said to take the form of cats.

Love hear your opinion on some of these rituals in the comments below.