potions, oils & concoctions


Gathering Herbs for Potions

To obtain herbs that are highly energized, pick them according to the phases of the Moon. During the waxing of the Moon, the vital energies flow upward into the leaves and stalks and flowers of the plant. Leaves, flowers and seeds should be picked during this time, as the Moon is growing from New to Full. As the Moon wanes, the energies travel to the roots of the plant, and therefore all root crops should be collected during the waning Moon, from Full to New. Use your magick knife to cut the plant or dig up the root, and leave a piece of bread to pay back the earth for its sacrifice. 

Drying and Storing Herbs

To dry herbs, first discard all brown or insect-eaten leaves. Wash all cuttings or roots with pure water. Pat dry with a cloth or paper towel, removing all dirt and contaminants. Place herbs on bed of paper towels spread on baking sheets to dry the leaves. Keep in a warm, dry room with no direct sunlight or open windows and turn the stalks each day, to make sure no mold grows on them. When leaves are dry, strip them off the stems and pick out the woody matter.

To dry seeds, gently tie together the stem ends and place in a paper sack. Tie the open end around the stem ends. Bag may be kept in full sunlight or near the chimney. When dry, shake or roll the heads between your fingers to remove the seeds. Pick out and discard stems. 

To dry flowers, set on paper towels after washing.

To dry roots, hang them next to the chimney or near the fire. Roots dry very slowly and must be kept in a very warm spot. Herbs that are not completely dry will mold in storage jars. 

If dried herbs are needed in a hurry, hold them over an open fire, near the flames, or spread them on baking sheets and place in oven (about 200 degrees F.) for a few minutes. Do not let them turn brown or catch on fire.

To store, fill clean jars with dried herbs and label jars. Cork and seal tightly and store in a room with no direct sunlight or in a wooden cabinet. Herbs can last up to seven months. Unused herbs should be returned to the earth.

Potion-Making Methods

Fluid condenser: a substance that concentrates and stores natural energies or “fluids.” Liquid fluid condensers are often used to concentrate the power of a specific herb for magickal use. They can be made by either the simple (one-substance) method or the compound (two or more) method. 

To make a fluid condenser, take two handfuls of fresh or dried herb (one type for a simple, or a combination for a compound – make sure to use an odd number of plants for a compound) and put into your pot. Pour cold water over so that the herb(s) is covered. Put a lid on the pot and boil the herb over flame for about 20 minutes. Cool, without removing lid, for 13 minutes. Strain the liquid, then return it to the pot and boil until it is halved in quantity. Leave the lid on during this process, but check it every few minutes to see how it is progressing. Let cool, covered, and then add the same amount of spirits, or fuel alcohol, as the water in the pot. Shake condenser vigorously, then strain again through four layers of fine linen into a small dark glass bottle and cork it. Label the bottle and store in a cool, dark place until needed.

Infusion: an herbal potion or tea.

To make an infusion, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb (or 2 to 4 teaspoons of fresh herb) to a cup of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes before straining. Bottle and store. Never prepare an ingestible infusion more than 24 hours in advance.

Another type of infusion is an oil infusion. Oil infusions are for external use only. They can be prepared by hot or cold methods.

For the hot method, fill a jar with fresh herb and cover with olive, sunflower, or almond oil. Place the jar up to the neck in a saucepan of water and bring to a medium temperature. Simmer for up to 3 hours. Strain through filter paper or cloth into a brown glass bottle. 

For the cold method, follow the same instructions to fill the jar, but the oil should be placed on a sunny windowsill instead of being heated over a flame. The process can be repeated with the strained oil infusion and a fresh supply of herbs to make a stronger oil.

Tincture: an infusion made in alcohol or apple cider vinegar. 

To make a tincture, grind about 4 ounces of herbs with your mortar and pestle, and then put the herbs in a jar that can be sealed with a lid. Slowly pour in eight ounces of alcohol, such as vodka, and then four ounces of water. Close the jar tightly and shake a few times. Leave mixture in the jar for two weeks, gently shaking the contents once a day. Then strain through linen or cheesecloth and pour the filtered liquid into a separate bottle that can be tightly sealed to avoid evaporation. Label and store.

Decoction: used for herbs that are stringy, rough, woody, or are roots. 

To make an herbal decoction, take 1 ounce of the dried herb (torn or cut into pieces) and 1 ½ pints water. Place the herbs into an enamel, glass, or stainless steel pan and add the water. Do not use aluminum or any other type of container as it may affect the herbs. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about one-third, then strain.

Simple Potion-Making Terms

Simple: a one-herb potion or infusion

Compound: an infusion of several herbs

Steep: to soak in a hot liquid, such as water

Macerate: to soak in alcohol or oil


Simple Recipe to Make an Oil:

– 2 cups or 16 ounces of olive oil

– 8 ounces of the desired herb

Place the herb and olive oil in a pot and heat to 100 degrees F. Remove from heat and cover. Repeat this procedure daily for one week or two. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. Fill a glass container with the infused oil and close tightly.

Oils for Spells and Charms

Love: rose, lavender, vanilla, jasmine

Cleansing and Healing: eucalyptus, sandalwood, peppermint, lavender

Banishing and Exorcism: frankincense

Prosperity: almond, honeysuckle

Energy: cinnamon, vanilla

Masculine and Feminine Specialty Oils

Satyr Oil: Should be blended on a Tuesday and should only be worn my men. Gives a masculine scent.

Start with a base of musk and patchouli. Add cinnamon, carnation, and vanilla oils. Blend until scent suits your liking.

Fragrance of Venus Oil: Blend on Friday and should only be worn by women. Gives a feminine scent. 

Blend together jasmine, red rose, a drop of lavender, a bit of musk, and ylang ylang oils.

(*Most of the above information on potion-making and oils was taken from “Magical Herbalism” by Scott Cunningham)

Ink-Making Formulas

Dragon’s Blood Ink:

– 1 part Dragon’s Blood resin

– 1 part Gum Arabic

– 15 parts alcohol

Grind resin and steep in alcohol until dissolved. Add ground Gum Arabic. Filter and bottle.

Dove’s Blood Ink:

– 1 part Dragon’s Blood resin

– 1 part Gum Arabic

– 2 drops Cinnamon oil

– 2 drops Rose oil

– 2 drops Bay oil

– 12 parts alcohol

Grind resin and steep in alcohol until dissolved. Add oils and ground Gum Arabic. Filter and bottle.

Bat’s Blood Ink:

– 2 parts Dragon’s Blood resin

– ½ part Myrrh resin

– 2 drops Cinnamon oil

– 2 drops Indigo color

– ½ part Gum Arabic

– 12 parts alcohol

Grind resins and steep in alcohol until dissolved. Add cinnamon oil, Indigo, and ground Gum Arabic. Filter and bottle.

(*Resource for the above ink formulas: Unknown)