DO asks: “What is a witch ball? Is it an object of the occult? Can it cause harm if used as a decoration innocently? Is it related to the glass yard ornaments called ‘gazing balls’?”
A witch’s ball is an ornament that is hung in the window of a house for protection against evil spirits and “negative energy.” It is part of the same family that includes “gazing balls” which are often used in outdoor gardens. Both have a history of superstitious and even occult use, such as a type of witch’s ball mentioned in Ozark folklore which is made of black hair rolled in beeswax and used by witches in curses or to kill people.
Witch’s balls have been around for hundreds of years, and have always been used superstitiously, even though the balls took on a more refined shape and craftsmanship in the Victorian era when they were often displayed as a symbol of wealth and prestige. They come under a variety of names, such as fairy orbs, pond balls, spirit balls, friendship balls, good luck balls, globes of happiness, gazing balls and butler globes.
The ball itself cannot cause harm unless it has some kind of curse attached to it, which is unlikely if it is purchased at a garden shop. However, be careful if you purchase one from a New Age shop. New Agers tend to subscribe to many neo-pagan beliefs, one of which is the idea that magic and other occult forces are not associated with evil but with science or as part of nature. Hence, they think they are doing people a service by putting their own kind of magical “blessing” on objects they later sell.
In my opinion, the only thing to be careful about is properly assessing your motives in hanging these up as a decoration. It’s a little like hanging up a rabbit’s foot. Are you really doing it because it’s a pretty glass ball, or because there might be some truth to the idea that it can ward off evil spirits.
But this is something only you and the Lord can determine.