I had a request recently for magical herbal recipes that I use frequently, and I thought I'd oblige. I haven't spoken a lot on this blog about practical hands-on Witchcraft, preferring mostly to wax spiritual on deity and nature and my own spiritual unfolding, but we should not forget that for many of us the Craft is a vital part of our path as Wiccans, and deserves attention of its own. Therefore I will endeavor to do a few more posts on these sorts of practical magic, starting with herbal recipes.
I've been working with herbs in magic almost as long as I've been a Witch--from the time I realized there was more to my spice rack than making taco seasoning, I've been fascinated with the metaphysical properties of herbs, resins, spices, and woods, as well as with the ways in which their metaphysical and medicinal properties intertwine. Like any Witch I have my favorite methods and ingredients. I wrote about my ten favorite magical plants here on the old version of DDtM.
My two basic rules for herbal blends are a) they must be safe for pets and humans and b) they must smell good. I work by the principle of "like attracts like" as well as with the properties of the four Elements. For example, if I were creating a blend for love, I could work from a Water perspective for romantic emotional love and use floral scents, watery plants--lavender, rose, jasmine. If I were working for love from a Fire perspective, say for red hot monkey love, I would use fiery plants: spices, peppers, anything with a bite and a flame beneath its scent, like cinnamon; or a known aphrodisiac like damiana. Ideally I would work with both elements, combining emotional love and passionate love, and use cinnamon, rose, damiana, and lavender to create a balanced energy to bring a balanced mate into my life. Too much of any one Element in magic can lead to unintended, and sometimes unfortunate, consequences.
My favorite methods include oil blends and powders. Both can be used for a variety of purposes: an oil can be used to anoint the practitioner in ritual, to anoint the objects of a spell, to blend into the soap or shampoo of one who desires its effects, blended with mop water to cleanse a kitchen space, and a dozen other uses. Powders can be sprinkled as they are, burned as incense on a charcoal tablet, tossed into the winds to release your intent, or my personal favorite, blended with baking soda and salt and sprinkled liberally over the floor, then vacuumed up to bless and scent the home.
Most of my herbal work is done to cleanse, protect, and empower my hearth. I have long considered myself a hearth-priestess; the magical side of my life is focused primarily on the health and well-being of those whom I consider a part of my hearth. My friends, my lovers, their families, my companion animals and theirs, and my own immediate family are all a part of my hearth even if they don't set foot in my house more than once a year.
Over the years I've developed...not recipes, precisely, but combinations of scents and substances that yield the desired results without being too specific on amounts. I use a dash, a handful, a pinch, a spoonful; I make magic like my grandmother made pie.
Each of these recipes you can consider tried-and-true formulas of the EarthDance tradition. They're among those I passed to my students. I use all of these in my own practice--in fact I whipped up a batch of the first one this evening for some house cleansing work I have planned for this week.
This blend protects, purifies, seals, and freshens your carpets. Can't beat that.
Grind the following together in a spice mill or using a mortar and pestle:
1/4 c sea salt
1/4 c lavender
1/4 c rosemary
2 Tablespoons peppermint
1 tsp angelica
A small pinch of dragon's blood resin and/or sandalwood
Try to get as fine a powder as you can. Combine with 1 cup baking soda in a jar and shake until thoroughly combined. Scatter over your carpets and allow to sit for several hours and absorb negative energy (as well as funky smells from pets and what have you) before vacuuming up. On a wood or tile floor sweep the debris into a single bowl and then flush down running water if possible.
Sea salt, of course, gives its grounding energy to the mix, and is a basic purifier as well as a consecrating agent. Lavender is known for its loving properties and healing compounds, as well as its peaceful scent. Rosemary is much the same, but also has a strong protective component. The peppermint further strengthens the mix; all three together are antimicrobial and anti-critter but won't bother your companion animals. Neither will the angelica, which is edible--but also a strong banisher of negative energy. The dragon's blood resin or sandalwood pack a good hard energetic wallop; I call dragon's blood the Cosmic Can of Whoopass. A little goes a long way, and it can stain your carpets so go easy on it.
All Purpose Ritual Anointing Oil
Blend the following in a 2-dram bottle (that's 1/4 ounce, or 7.2 milliliters) of sweet almond or other light carrier oil (grapeseed, jojoba). If you have a larger bottle, use more carrier oil and up the amounts of everything else one drop at a time.
6 drops carnation oil
4 drops sandalwood oil
4 drops frankincense oil
2 drops rosemary oil
2 drops rose oil
1 drop lavender
Now, sandalwood and rose oils can be ungodly expensive, so if skin irriation isn't a problem for you, you can substitute cinnamon oil or cardamom for the sandalwood, and more lavender or possibly rose geranium for the straight-up rose.
Kitchen Cleansing Oil
This one I blend just like the above, and then use a few drops in the mop water each time I clean my kitchen. You can also add it to your all-purpose countertop and surface cleaner to give the product a magical boost.
4 drops each lemon, orange, lavender oils
2 drops eucalyptus oil
2 drops peppermint oil
These are all purificatory oils with cleansing properties that also smell fresh and kitchen-y.
Star of the Sea Blend
You can use this combination of herbs in a powder, incense, charm, et cetera, or use the same proportions to blend an oil out of essentials. The "p" stands for "parts".
7 parts lemon
3 p each lavender, carnation, sandalwood
2 p jasmine
3 p rose
1/2 p patchouly
If blending an oil, assume a part is a drop, and blend just as you would the Anointing Oil. This blend is designed to call the Goddess in Her guise as Queen of Heaven; it has a very pure, celestial scent barely tempered with the earthiness of the patchouly. If you're blending by drops, use a very tiny drop of the patch compared to regular-sized drops of everything else.
Forest Lord Blend
Another formula like the above, but this time to evoke the presence of the masculine Divine.
1 p patchouly
1 p cedar
1 p sandalwood
1 p pine
1 p oakmoss
1 p sage
1 p juniper
1 p deer's tongue
a pinch of cinnamon
Deer's tongue, also called wild vanilla, is my particular God's favorite offering--it smells, literally, like wild vanilla, sweet and musky and somehow deeply masculine. It's a bit hard to find (I'm almost out and need to find a new supplier), but it lasts a long time and is worth every penny. And, I might add, it's a mild aphrodisiac. I can attest to this personally.
Remember that these amounts are recommendations only; if you hate the smell of juniper or don't have any sage, feel free to substitute a similar herb or spice that you think would contribute the same kind of energy and scent. The Forest Lord blend, for example, could contain any of dozens of woods, resins, needles, and woodland plants. Generally I use this blend more for incenses than oils, as it smells fabulous when it's burned. Just go easy on the cinnamon if, like me, you're allergic. Inhaled allergens suck.
Dance Priestess Anointing Oil
I use a blend like this one to anoint my feet before I dance. It has a tiny bit of cinnamon in it, which doesn't hurt me because it doesn't go near my face, but if you wanted to be safe, substitute black pepper or cardamom oil. Blend into sweet almond oil and then rub a tiny bit into your instep, your toes, or your ankles--obviously you don't want to use much or you'll be slipping and sliding all over the place. You just want the scent and the release of the essential oils to bring their power to your dance.
The formula is based on Gabrielle Roth's 5 Rhythms. If you have a different understanding of the rhythms by all means create your own blend; this one is hardly definitive.
4 drops each:
cinnamon or myrrh (staccato)
carnation or cardamom (chaos)
No, this isn't to banish unwanted bitches, it's to banish--or rather, ground out and transform into peace--negative feelings you yourself have, usually at work or in other circumstances where your anxiety level and desire to choke someone bare-handed rise as does your blood pressure. I keep a jar of this stuff in my desk and inhale its scent to alleviate bad moods, surliness, PMS, and other I-hate-my-species feelings.
pinch of catnip
pinch of amber powder
pinch of sandalwood powder (big pinch)
3 drops honeysuckle oil
several dried rose petals
rose quartz chips or a chunk of rose quartz that will fit in the bottom of whatever jar you want to use
pinch of cinnamon or apple pie spice blend
Blend together and grind into a mush, using the essential oils to intensify the smell and bind everything together so it's moist and pasty. If you can't find amber powder add a little more sandalwood.