19th c. Egg Nog
1 pint brandy
1 qt. bourbon
1 pint dark rum
3 qts. heavy cream
1 lb. sugar
Separate the eggs. Stir the liquors with the egg yolks. Mix in the cream and sugar; blend together.
Beat the eggs whites until stiff. Fold them in gently with the yolks and liquor mixture. Garnish with cloves and nutmeg.
AN ANCIENT WASSAIL BOWL (ca. 1602)
6 whole cloves 6 egg yolks
1 c. sugar 6 apples, cored, not peeled
3 egg whites 2 t. powdered nutmeg
1 in. cinnamon stick ¼ t. mace
1 t. powdered ginger 2 qts. Madeira or Sherry
Cover spices with cold water. Bring to a boil; add wine and sugar. Simmer.
Filled cored apples with sugar, sprinkle on a little spice and roast about 20 minutes (until nearly done). In your wassail bowl or punch bowl beat together egg whites and yolks. When wine is warm, not boiling, mix a teacupful with the eggs. When a little warmer, add another teacupful with the eggs and repeat until 5 cups have been used. Let the rest of the wine boil up well. Pour it into the bowl, stirring all the while so it froths. Toss the hot apples into the bowl and serve the whole very hot. If desired, decorate the bowl with holly.
Note: Be sure to use an enameled stockpot for warming the wine and spices, since alcohol can react badly with metal. You can use a large whisk to beat the eggs in the bowl rather than an electric beater. A teacup would be about 2 oz.
GLÖGG (Yule and Imbolc)
1 qt. dry red wine 3 cardamom seeds, crushed
1 qt. port 9 whole cloves
1 c. seedless raisins 1 stick cinnamon
2 T. grated orange peel 1 ½ c. aquavit
1 c. sugar 1 c. blanched almonds
In a 6-qt. enameled pot mix together the wines, raisins, orange peel, cardamom seeds, cloves, and cinnamon. Cover and let stand for thirteen hours.
Just before serving add the aquavit and sugar, stir and bring to full boil over high flame. Remove from heat. Add almonds; stir and serve in mugs with spoons.
1. From my first Book of Shadows, ca 1978.
2. Recipe from the first edition of Witches All, ed. Elizabeth Pepper and John Wilcock, published about 1976-77. The revised edition, ed. Elizabeth Pepper, includes the recipe.
 From my first Book of Shadows, ca. 1978.
 Ibid. Also found in Witches All, revised edition, ed. Elizabeth Pepper, p 95. The Witches Almanac, Tiverton, RI 02878. I first copied this recipe from the first edition of Witches All, ed. Pepper and Wilcock ca 1976-7.
Elixirs are classified as an alchemical process, the result of which is used to trigger internal changes in the user on the physical, astral, and spiritual levels. They fall under the realm of ceremonial magick rather than Craft, but there may still be times when a major change is desired within oneself. Such times call for an elixir.
A Success elixir is a good place to start. It will help you with your job, with attaining health improvement goals, and any major goal you are working toward achieving. You will need a handful of Jupiter-ruled hyssop and a handful of Solar rosemary, a pint of vodka or brandy, a pint of spring water, cheesecloth, two clean glass jars with lids, a medium-size enameled saucepan (easily found at flea markets), a crème bruleé torch, a small glass or ceramic plate, and a brick.
When the Full Moon is in Capricorn or Virgo place the herbs in the glass jar and add all of the alcohol. Allow it to soak until the New Moon, then open the jar and strain out the herbs through cheesecloth. Set aside the alcohol in the other jar. Put the spring water in the enameled saucepan and bring it to a boil, then pour the water over the herbs in their jar. Allow the herbs to soak until the next Full Moon. Then strain the herbs from the tea. Put the herbs on the ceramic plate and spread them out as evenly as possible. Pour the tea and the alcohol mixture into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the liquid is at a low rolling boil and allow it to reduce to half its volume. Pour the mix into one of the glass jars, allow to cool, cap it and set it aside. Leave the herbs on the plate to dry out thoroughly, which should take only three days or so, depending on the humidity level where you live.
When the herbs have dried out, sometime during the next twelve or thirteen days before the New Moon place the plate on the brick. Using the torch burn the herb mix until it is completely consumed and reduced to gray ash. (Be sure you have ample ventilation.) On the night of the New Moon, add the ash to the liquid blend and shake. Shake the mixture once a day until the Full Moon then strain out the ash—make sure you get all the material—and place the finished elixir in the container in which you intend to keep it. Discard the ash. During your Esbat ask your deity to bless your elixir.
Use it by taking a teaspoon every day before meditating on your goal until the entire liquid is consumed.
 Excerpted from my Workbook, ca. 1981.
Happy Samhain, everyone! Today I’m changing it up a bit and sharing the process of making loose incense and oil blends.
Creating your own blends requires concentration on its use: will it be for Moon or Sun rites, for a Sabbat, meditation, or purification? By focusing on its purpose you charge the incense with intent and so empower the blend. Incense can be made during a particular Moon phase, and/or a certain day and hour if you like to use such correspondences. The herbs in the recipes are magickally connected to the planets or deities for which they are used. All ingredients must be natural—essential oils, not synthetic. The only exceptions are musk, civet or ambergris, though humanely collected oils are available online. Your herbs and resins will work best if in chunk form rather than powdered.
Note: Cinnamon oil is corrosive and can burn your skin. Be careful when using it! Also test other oils such as pepper before putting it into a blend you plan on wearing.
What you will need for your work: a mortar and pestle and the ingredients called for in the recipe. It’s better to measure the amounts by hand if you can. If that is too awkward for you, measuring spoons and an eyedropper is also needed, plus a small bottle of rubbing alcohol and some paper towels.
Start by blending resins first. Grind the resin while concentrating on its attributes, then add the next resin (if you are using more than one) and grind it in turn, again focused on its qualities. When you are finished with your resins, add an herb. This is ground just as you did with the resins. Add each herb in turn and continue grinding them into the mixture, staying focused on each one so it is charged and adding its qualities to your incense.
Finally, add a few drops of essential oil to the herbs and resins. Grind it in. Next, clean the dropper inside and out with rubbing alcohol and paper towel to prevent mixing the oils in their bottles. If you have several droppers this can make the process quicker since you won’t need to clean them until you are done. If you like, you can mix the herbs apart from the resins, then set aside a small amount of the herbal mixture and add the oils to it. The blend is then added to the remaining herbs, ground together, and added to the resins.
Use whatever method you like to empower your finished incense: visualization, singing, chanting, etc. Put the blend into a container that has a tight lid. Clean and cleansed glass jars are fine. I like apothecary jars since they work great and look nice on a shelf with a vintage-style label. Ceramic jars can be used as well but stay away from plastic. It is an artificial material and oils will etch into it. Clean your mortar and pestle with the alcohol and paper towels.
Your new incense needs to sit for twelve hours before use to allow everything to mix.
Ritual oils are much easier to make. Put an equal amount of each essential oil into a clean, cleansed glass bottle while focused on the oil’s attributes. Twist the lid on and shake the oil mixture, concentrating on its purpose. As with your incense allow the blend to rest for at least twelve hours before using it.
Here are some recipes to get you started. I’ve included measured amounts on two of them as they are what I found to work well. You can, of course, change it to suit your preferences.
Moon Incense Exorcism Incense Yule
2 T. lavender 1 T. Asafoetida Pine needles
2 T. sandalwood 2 T. bay leaves, crumbled Mistletoe
1 T. myrrh gum 2 T. vervain Saffron or Safflowers
1 T. poppy seeds ½ T. mullein Frankincense
½ T damiana ½ T. vetivert Rosemary oil
½ T. anise seed 4 drops patchouli oil Spearmint oil
1 t. nutmeg 7 drops cedar oil
4 drops lavender oil
4 drops camphor oil
2 drops cinnamon oil
Moon Oil Sun Oil Blessing Oil
Sandalwood Frankincense Jasmine
Wild lily (or lotus) Pine Frankincense
Rose Juniper Cedar
Cypress Civit Ambergris
The information about incense making and the recipes are from my Workbook, ca. 1980
A condenser starts of with a certain volume of fluid which is boiled until that volume is half the original amount—it is condensed, hence its name.
Potpourri simmer pots work very well for small amounts of condenser material. They are still obtainable at a good price; I see them in second-hand stores a lot. I prefer the type that uses a tea light candle because it brings natural fire into the process. It is not, however, a hard and fast rule. You can do this on the stove. A small steel or enameled saucepan is best. Aluminum or Teflon-coated pans will leach unwanted metal or chemicals into your brew. You can make larger amounts on a stovetop; if you happen to have a gas stove you can have a bit of fun by using an iron cauldron with legs. It’d have to be large enough to straddle the burner. Such a size is appropriate if you are making enough condenser for others to use, such as your coven.
Spring water is always the best choice for potions and condensers. Since I don’t live near a natural spring I buy mine—I like Evian water the best but any artesian water works fine. Rainwater is another excellent source. You can collect your own by placing a large bowl out in the rain. Store it in a clean, tight-lidded jar.
Decide on your purpose for your condenser and choose the appropriate Moon phase/day/magickal hour in which to do your work. Gather your working tools and the herbs you will use. One at a time take up each herb in your hand, hold it and charge it with its purpose. Add it to the pot. Then measure out the amount of water you plan to use; pour it into the pan. Light the candle or turn on the burner; mix the herbs and water with a wooden spoon or a wooden chopstick (please do not use your Wand! Such a Tool is for ritual.) Bring the brew to a boil and, if using your stove, turn the heat down enough so it is on a low rolling boil. Allow it to cook for up to five minutes. Smaller amounts of condenser don’t need as much time; two to three minutes is plenty. If you are using dried root material you will need to increase cooking time by five minutes in order to extract the root’s properties.
Remove the pot from the heat, strain the liquid through clean cheesecloth into a clean glass or ceramic bowl (again, no metal!) and discard the herbs. Put the liquid back into the pot and allow it to continue boiling until the volume is reduced to half.
Strain again through clean cheesecloth. If you want to add a small semiprecious
gemstone to the liquid to include appropriate gemstone energy, do so now. Stir the condenser, focusing on its purpose. Leave it to cool.
When you can handle the liquid comfortably remove the gemstone. Add a teaspoon of brandy or vodka to the condenser (Large amounts of condenser will need a half-tablespoon of alcohol.) If you prefer, a small pinch of powdered gum benzoin may be substituted. Alcohol or benzoin both work as a preservative. Stir well and leave it to cool. When it’s ready pour the condenser into your glass measuring cup and, using a small funnel if necessary, pour the brew into its bottle(s). Cap it, make sure it’s properly labeled, and you are done!
Below you will find a brief list of herbs and their Planetary associations if you don’t yet have access to such information. Lately my favorite go-to source is Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs; his information is reliable. I am including a Table of Magickal Hours as well in case you need one.
Merry meet! Welcome to The Burning Cauldron. I’ll be writing about how to make potions, elixirs, condensers, ritual incense and oils. From time to time I may post information about other items you can create for use in your practice and worship. For today I thought I’d start with how to make potions.
“That’s great,” you say, “but what is a potion? What does it do?” Glad you asked.