Creating Botanical Infusions for Spellwork
An infusion is the process by which one medium (or power) is encouraged to permeate another. The most common are botanicals infused in water or oil. The most famous infusion in the world is a cup of tea. If you make tea with loose leaves rather than a tea bag, you already know a lot about infusions. Infusions allow you to insert specific botanical power into potions, baths, floor washes, and magical oils, among many other things.
The standard formula for a water infusion is one teaspoon of dried herb, or one-and-a-half teaspoons of fresh herb for every cup of boiling water. Unless otherwise advised, maintain those proportions even when using multiple herbs, adjusting the proportions of the individual ingredients rather than the whole.
1. Place the botanicals into a non-reactive pot or container (glass rather than plastic, for instance). 2. Pour the water over the botanical material. 3. Allow it to brew, usually for between five and fifteen minutes. 4. The plant material may be strained from the liquid or allowed to remain, depending upon the purpose of the spell. For a floorwash, you’d want to remove the botanical; for a particularly potent magical bath, it may be more powerful to retain the botanicals, even though this may leave a mess to clean up.
Sometimes a stronger, more concentrated infusion is desired for a bath or floorwash, but not for drinking.
1. Place a more substantial quantity of botanical material into a non-reactive pot or container.
2. Pour only enough boiling water over the botanical material to cover it.
3. Allow it to brew for as long as it takes the water to return to room temperature.
4. Strain the botanicals from the liquid or retain, as desired.
The process of creating infused oils is slightly more complex, however it is still easily accomplished in the home kitchen. The standard proportion suggested is that for every cup of oil, one ounce of fresh herb or one half-ounce of dried herb is required. Unless otherwise advised, do not exceed these proportions.
1. Place the botanical material in a stainless steel bowl.
2. Cover with the oil.
3. Gently heat over simmering water, either in a true double boiler or in an improvised water bath—a saucepan one-quarter filled with water. The bowl with the herbs must not sit on the bottom of the pan but float in the water. As it is very easy for oil to scorch and burn, this process needs constant supervision for safety. Keep the oil covered.
4. Stir once in a while. Simmer gently for thirty minutes. The oil should not be allowed to get too hot because if it smokes, bubbles or burns, an acrid fragrance will develop, spoiling the infusion.
5. Allow the oil to cool. Then all the botanical material must be strained out through multiple layers of cheesecloth or a fine non-metal strainer. Strain twice, if necessary, or more. If the plant material is not removed, the oil may turn rancid.
6. If an infusion spell includes essential oils or flower remedies for enhancement, add them now, once the oil is strained and cooled.
7. Store the infused oil in an airtight container.
You can substitute a crock-pot for the water bath. Maintain the same proportions. Leave the pot on a low heat for approximately two hours, then strain as above.
If you can depend upon consistent warm, sunny weather, extremely powerful infusions may be created via solar power. These infusions contain the power of the sun as well as that of botanicals.
1. Place the botanicals inside a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
2. Pour oil over them (make sure the botanicals are completely covered).
3. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
4. Leave the jar to sit exposed to warm sun all day and in a warm cupboard (or exposed to moonbeams, if it’s warm) all night, for two weeks. Strain as above.
Flower Oil Infusion
There is also another method of infusing oil that does not require heat. This method is usually used to capture the power-transmitting fragrance of delicate flower petals.
1. Separate the petals.
2. Place substantial quantities of clean, dry petals into an airtight jar and cover with oil. (An oil with minimal fragrance of its own is usually preferred to allow the flower’s scent to transmit most powerfully.)
3. Let the petals steep in the oil for three days, shaking the jar occasionally, keeping the jar in the sun in the daytime and in a warm cupboard at night.
4. Strain out and discard the petals, ideally using some cheesecloth or another non-metal sieve, but retain the oil.
5. Fill the jar with a substantial quantity of fresh, clean dry flower petals and cover them with the reserved oil.
6. Again allow the petals to steep, repeating all the previous stages. The oil will retain the fragrance; repeat until the desired intensity of the fragrance is achieved (usually three repetitions is needed), then carefully strain out all the solid botanical material and reserve the oil.
If you are creating large quantities of infused oils that will not be used up quickly, it’s best and safest to add a natural preservative. One-quarter teaspoon of simple tincture of benzoin, available from many pharmacies, may be added per cup of infused oil. Benzoin is derived from styrax gum, believed to have sacred properties and to create a cleansing, protective action. (Make sure you have simple tincture, not compound tincture, which is also known as Friar’s Balsam.) Vitamin E may also be used as a preservative. However, be aware that much of what is readily available is synthetic. Pierce one Vitamin E capsule and add the contents per every cup of infused oil. Jojoba oil is not a true oil but a plant lipid with antioxidant properties. Blend it with other oils to discourage them from turning rancid. (Maintain the basic proportions of oil to botanicals, however, even when using multiple oils.)