What Is It?

The brass rod with "horns"
Close up of the hand — or grip

Sometime in the late 1970s I read in a book by Doreen Valiente how she found discarded ritual artifacts in a Brighton antiques shop.

Unfortunately, I did not visit Brighton until shortly after her death, and while palling around with Evan John Jones, the only antiques shop I visited was one specializing in militaria, tucked away in The Lanes.

But back in the 1970s, still wet behind the ears, I edited a monthly magazine for antique collectors and made the round of many shops. I never found any obvious ritual artifacts—but there was this.

It looked magical—but what was it? I asked various senior Witches, particularly those born outside the United States, and got various answers, none of which was particularly satisfying.

Was it some kind of indicator of cuckoldry? A swizzle stick for a Really Serious cocktail? Or—and this one I could almost accept—part of an antique toasting fork, lacking the part with the tines? (Compare this brass toasting fork from the 1940s.)

Alas, it probably is not the artifact that will prove the existence of a pre-Gardnerian Pagan Witchcraft.

6 thoughts on “What Is It?

  1. I love this post because I am cramming in a “leisure read” (I must be insane) of Ronald Hutton’s “Triumph of the Moon” between my summer and fall university semesters.

    I picked up a 1st US printing (1971) of Farrar’s “What Witches Do” at a local book resale shop on chance… for $6. Couldn’t resist.

  2. I can’t make out if the other end of the rod is pointed at all. If it is, I’d guess that this is an atelette. These are ornamental skewers that were used to decorate hot and cold display pieces on banquet tables. They have rather fallen out of use now, but you can still find them at some restaurant supply stores. Here is an illustration from Le Patissier Royal Parisien showing them in use.

  3. I don’t think it is a skewer. The small end has some shallow threads (?) but no point. If they are threads, then something is missing, perhaps the toasting-fork tines.

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