Crafting New Witches’ Salves

Magical Salves in the Making

There’s more magic cooking in the witch’s kitchen. I’m making more of my Toadman’s Salve for shapeshifting, hedgecrossing, and communing with a toad familiar. I’ve started another batch of my Genius Loci salve for materializing and communicating with nature spirits – mainly those of forests and wild places. I’m also working on a crafting a 17th century fairy ointment recipe. I just need to find one more ingredient before I can complete it. I found the instructions in the classic work Fairy Tradition in Britain by Lewis Spence. The making of the fairy ointment is quite ritualistic, but not nearly as elaborate as crafting Medea’s Salve.

Medea's Salve

Supposedly Prometheus taught Medea how to make this salve from Mandrake root. Mandrake sprung up from the ichor, god blood, of Prometheus from his time in punishment for bringing us fire. Gods’ blood is poisonous to mortals like the Mandrake, but in small doses the root is very useful medicinally and ritually. It would be good for channeling gods as Prometheus is the Gods’ telephone pole – this salve is like a phone you can use to dial a deity’s number with an invocation. Even being tortured and bound, Prometheus as trickster still covertly gifted we mortals.

Water from seven springs

A simple blend of precisely measured genuine Mandragora root, rich extra virgin olive oil from Greece, and high quality filtered beeswax. However, this salve is not so simple to make. Following the ancient recipe with the help of my lovely apprentice, we left a sacrifice of an apple and a healthy dose of my home brewed pomegranate-apple mead in a pit at a crossroads to Persephone. Then we lit the altar candles and created sacred space to work within. Next we cleansed ourselves in the waters of seven springs (as many local ones as we could find) before invoking Hecate with an offering of my Hecate incense and more mead. Then we were able to work with the Mandragora and craft the salve of Medea which can be used in honour of  Prometheus, Persephone, Hecate, or Aphrodite depending on your intent. This salve will allow you to take on the powers of a god, is what Medea says to Jason. Use for channeling and for rites needing abilities beyond your ken such as shapeshifting, travelling between worlds, or communing with spirits. My apprentice and I tested it out when we were done and I made sure to take notes. We rub a small amount of the salve on the back of our necks, behind our ears, and inside the elbows. Then wait around twenty minutes…

Heat, waves of heat like a hot flash, but not a flash – waves. It is pleasant. My hands and my neck are warm, but the rest of my body feels cool to the touch even though I feel hot from the inside. I feel this same heat when I sing charms, invocations, and when performing certain rituals. We went outside on the deck to sit with my poisonous plants and the cooling night air made the heat balance and I felt comfortable even though I should have been cold. Definitely mind altering. Time goes by quickly. No fuzzy mind or clouded thoughts. Sight is very focused and sharp with clearer detail. Young crows fly by in mass numbers to roost for the night. The tiny purple bittersweet flowers with their tiny tufts of pollen. It makes one silly and giggle a bit like pot. Saliva builds up in the mouth and words become confused to speak. I touch the datura. I’m thirsty it says with no words. I feel this strongly. I touch the earth and it’s quite dry. Suddenly, it starts to rain.

Nine Sacred Herbs Salve

Around the same time my apprentice and I also made the traditional Nine Sacred Herbs Salve. The recipe for this salve is taken from an 11th century manuscript which also contains the charm sung along with its use to empower the herbs.  The nine sacred herbs were discovered and shared with us mortals by the god Odin and are traditional to Germanic and Anglo-Saxon lore. They are chamomile, chervil, crab apple, fennel, mugwort, nettle, English plantain, viper’s bugloss, and watercress. This is a magical healing salve used for healing both physical and metaphysical illness. Out of the nine herbs, the ones still used medicinally in salves today are chamomile, mugwort, and plantain – not bad for thousand-year old herbal knowledge.

Crafting the Nine Sacred Herbs Salve

To enhance its healing powers, the charm is  sung three times while applying the salve to heal ills beyond the herbs’ medicinal abilities such as painful arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, carpal tunnel, infections, diseases, or even to cure someone of the evil eye or other curses. It is a long charm, but it is traditionally to say or sing it all three times:  Nine Herbs Charm with Translation.

Nine Sacred Herbs salves cooling

Comments

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  1. Célie says:

    So inspiring!
    I also read the Fairy Tradition in Britain by Lewis Spence, and I can’t wait to see the ointment you’ll make from his receipe.
    Is it possible to reserve one?

    • That book is so full of wonderful treasures. The author’s written so many other books that now I want to read them too!

      No need to reserve, there will be plenty! I’ll put a notice up on Facebook when the fairy ointment is added to the shop.

      Slainte,
      Sarah

  2. Lynn says:

    A lovely post – as ever, it makes me want to break open my beeswax and do some salve making myself this week. Nice to have the references also.
    Many thanks,
    Lynn

  3. Eric says:

    Wassail!

    An interesting report on the Medea Salve. Was the recipe written in lore, or did you find it elsewhere? Like in the Greek magical papyri? Which, in hindsight, has many excellent charms and potions and such things. There is an excellent sleeping draught consisting of apple seeds, the ivy, and the mandrake.

    Yours,
    Eric

    • The instructions are taken from Apollonius’ Argonautica. The recipe uses water instead of oil, but I chose oil for a longer shelf life.

      Lol, “sleeping draught” must be code for “drink this and die”.

      Slainte,
      Sarah

      • Eric says:

        Wassail!

        It is possible, but the measurements for the mandrake and ivy are very minuscule and mandrake was used in the past to put people into a sleep for amputations and such.

      • It’s mainly the apple seeds I was worried about as they contain arsenic… not a recipe I’ll be trying any time soon!

      • Wade MacMorrighan says:

        I shouldn’t worry about the arsenic in apple pips as it is so minute you’d have to ingest an awful lot just to get sick! :oP I commonly see people eat apples, pips and all, and they are as right as rain… Though, sometimes, apple pips are known to make one a bit drowsy depending upon how many is ingested.

  4. Scylla says:

    Odd question, maybe, but do you sort of homogenize the mandrake and test it at first (to ensure you know the general strength of the batch) or do you defer the testing until it gets to the individual salve stage?

    • I tested out the strength first with simple oils and tinctures so I knew the ratio of dried mandrake to a liquid for external use. The Medea’s Salve was very carefully measured!

      • Scylla says:

        Just curious about the process. I figured that was the approach.

        I respect the work you’re doing with entheogenic plants, because very few people are openly doing that work. I’m curious about the processes you use, because obviously the “pool” of people who are using the product is much larger than just yourself and your compatriots in BC – Clearly something is working, and it provides excellent topical points to discuss with others when Ye Olde “Drugs R Bad, M’Kay?” rears it’s head.

  5. Aelwyn says:

    Hey, you got three awards! :) Check ‘em out here: http://hedgewitchhollow.blogspot.com/2010/10/3-blog-awards-holy-cow.html

    Cheers!
    Aelwyn

  6. Wade MacMorrighan says:

    Hey sweety, as I love to say, I’m a total Font Whore, here. So, I gotta’ ask you (if you could find out for me): What fonts are you using the “The Sacred Herbs Salve”?

    BTW, thanks for the recommendation of Spence’s book! Keep forgetting to look about for a copy of that one. ;o)

    Also, as a HISTORY whore, I’d love to learn where Prometheus taught Medea to create the mandrake salve for a research project. I can’t seem to find that anywhere. And, which 11th. C. manuscript do you speak of? My forte is in Celtic studies so, my Saxon and Norse knowledge are comparatively weak.

    Take care dear,
    Wade MacMorrighan

    BTW, my patron goddess 9the genius loci of Sovereignty), The Morrighan, is also the personification of Samhain, according to some translated medieval texts in which she gives “Samhain” as an epithet.

    • It’s the same font you drooled over last time – Parchment. Microsoft Office has it as does Paint.net

      If you think of how gods operate, it didn’t have to be a place where he taught Medea – he could’ve whispered the instructions inside her mind after all.

      The manuscript is the Lacnunga (“the remedies”) ;)

      Slainte!
      Sarah