When the subject of Witches’ ointments is mentioned, the infamous “flying ointments” immediately come to mind, at least to those with some interest in the history of Witchcraft and magick. These salves, consisting of psychoactive plants steeped in a fatty base, were rubbed onto the skin to aid in what is known today as astral projection.
These are not the only types of ointments known to Witches and magicians, however. Many others have more earthly uses that correlate to those of oils. In fact, any of the oils mentioned in our Oil and Ointment section can be converted to ointments simply by adding them to melted beeswax, lard or (in today’s world) vegetable shortening.
However made, ointments should ideally be kept in crystal or porcelain containers. Realistically, any jars with tight-fitting lids will do fine. Keep ointments away from heat and light. These ointments form a part of herb magic of long-gone days, and so are included here solely for their historical interest.
Ointments are easily made. They consist simply of herbs or oils and a base. In the past, hog’s lard was the preferred base because it was readily available, but vegetable shortening or beeswax produces the best results.
The base must be a greasy substance that melts over heat but is solid at room temperature. Some herbalists actually use dinosaur fat (I.e., Vaseline, which is prepared from petroleum)!
There are two basic ways to create magical ointments.
THE SHORTENING METHOD
Gently heat four parts shortening over low heat until liquefied. Watch that it doesn’t burn. Add one part dried herbal mixture, blend with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed, and continue heating until the shortening has extracted the scent. You should be able to smell it in the air. Strain through cheesecloth into a heat-proof container, such as a canning jar. Add one-half teaspoon tincture of benzoin to each pint of ointment as a natural preservative.
Store in a cool, dark place, such as the refrigerator. Ointments should last for weeks or months. Discard any that turn moldy, and lay in a fresh batch.
THE BEESWAX METHOD
This process creates a more cosmetic ointment without a heavy, greasy feeling. It is best to prepare it with oils rather than herbs, as it is difficult to strain. If possible, use unbleached beeswax. If not, use what you can find.
Chip it with a large, sharp knife so that you can pack it into a measuring cup. Place one-fourth cup or so of beeswax in the top of a double boiler (such as a coffee can set into a larger pot of water). Add about one-fourth cup olive, hazelnut, sesame or some other vegetable oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until the wax has melted into the oil.
Remove from the heat and let cool very slightly, until it has just begun to thicken. (This step is taken so that the hot wax won’t evaporate the oils.) Now add the mixed oils to the wax. Stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon and pour into a heat-proof container.
Label and store in the usual way.
In the recipes that follow, the recommended method of preparation will be mentioned.
Once the ointment is made and has cooled in its jar, empower it with its particular magical need.This vital step, remember, directs the energy within the ointment, readying it for your ritual use.
Ointments are usually rubbed onto the body to effect various magical changes. As with oils, this is done with visualization and with the knowledge that the ointment will do its work.