If you’re trying to learn Witchcraft—or anything really—a base of know Potion, brew, philter, bath, infusion, sachet, charm or mojo bag, Witch’s bottles and jars—there are so many different kinds of things Witches seem to make, aren’t there? Well, they don’t call it “The Craft” for nothing. Witchcraft and spells often involve actually crafting and enchanting different types of items.
Magical Concoctions,Brews and Teas was originally presented by Juliette Kula for White Oak Grove CUUPs. Here’s a little guide to help you learn what many of these things are, what the difference is, and how you generally go about making them.
An infusion is essentially a tea—it’s when you steep something (usually herbs and plants) in liquids. You can use water as the base of your infusion, or you can use other liquids—wine, juice or even oil.
Some people will tell you to never make an infusion in a metal pot, as it disrupts the energy of the herbs. I have to say, I disagree. I have a lot of great results making all kinds of infusions in my cast iron pots (cauldrons). It seems to me that the iron practically vibrates and reverberates the energies within, and lend the grounding of the Element of Earth.
I find stainless steel fairly neutral when it comes to brews, and copper seems to infuse any infusion with a boost of energy, which gets it from the Element of Fire (the Element associated with copper).
You just have to keep in mind that certain acidic ingredients will react with metal—so if I’m including anything acidic, such as citrus slices, I will use a glass, enamel or ceramic.
I do avoid nonstick-coated pots, aluminum, and pewter—I won’t use pots or vessels made of these materials at all. This is particularly true of pewter, because toxins can be leached from it. Infusions are used for drinking, bathing, or washing things.
A potion is an enchanted infusion that can be drank or used topically in a variety of ways..
It’s usually (but not always) made of herbs. Usually it’s made in a base of liquids like wine or juice.
Sometimes non-edible elements are added to potions to lend them power, then removed before drinking. For example, you might put a crystal in the potion while making it, then remove the crystal before drinking (please make sure your crystal won’t leach toxins into the liquid.
- Philter: A potion; usually a love potion specifically.
- Draught: Pronounced draft, it’s synonymous with potion. This version of the word is more often found in video games and fiction, however.
- Brew: Potion and brew are often used interchangeably because potions are brewed. Brews can be enchanted infusions or mixtures meant to be consumed. Usually when you’re talking about something very thick, or something fermented, you would use the term brew rather than potion. So a brew can essentially be a drink or a food. For example, your coffee is a brew, beer is a brew, and stews are brews.
Elixirs refer to drinks meant to give health and vitality, only they are not infused. Rather, powders and extracts are dissolved in a water and/or alcohol base, and it’s usually sweetened with honey, syrup, mashed fruits or other sweeteners. Elixirs can be enchanted—and of course, but a lot of non-magical health-conscious people make elixirs.
- Suspension: A suspension is like an elixir in which the particles can’t fully dissolve. They should be shaken to disperse the ingredients before drinking.
- Oil: An oil extraction is when you extract the natural oils from a plant. Essential oils are pure extracted oils with no other additives, hence they are more expensive. Fragrance oils or cosmetic oils contain additives, or can be outright artificial chemical creations. An oil infusion is when you steep herbs in oils. An oil blend is when you blend essential oils, and usually dilute them in a base oil (olive oil, vegetable, jojoba or grape seed, for example).
A powder is a blend of ground herbs, woods, spices, perhaps even ground crystals or minerals. They are enchanted and their power is released by sprinkling them around. Always be careful not to inhale powders, or let them blow into your eyes. Powders are generally kept in a jar, or you might put them in a pouch to carry them with you. I find powders great for outdoor use. Grab a handful, infuse it with your intent, then toss it into the wind. Sprinkle an area to purify it and cleanse it of negativity. Make a protective circle by sprinkling powder around. It’s very useful.
- Sachet: A piece of porous fabric or netting that’s been filled with herbs and other aromatic ingredients so it emits a scent.
- Pillow: A sachet that’s a bit more tightly woven, but still emits scent. Place it over the head during meditation or for healing.
A bath into which an infusion or sachet has been added. Usually these would be enchanted for a magical bath, it can be done for the aromatherapy benefits, or just because it’s refreshing.
- Tincture Infusions: using pure ethyl alcohol, which captures the scent of herbs. These can be added to other concoctions, such as baths and washes, or it’s used to anoint—this can be particularly great for people who have skin reactions to oils. It’s not recommended that you drink tinctures. Don’t use rubbing alcohol, which is made from petroleum products; it should be 140 proof pure ethyl.
- Charm Bag or Mojo Bag: Enchanted herbs and other items placed into a small pouch or bag and tied tight. It’s worn or carried as an amulet.
- Ointment: A salve, or fatty-based lotion, that’s been made with enchanted herbs and other ingredients. It’s rubbed on for magical effect, usually used for healing purposes these days. One of the most famous types of witch ointments is the flying ointment. There are many ancient sources found for these kinds of recipes, and folklore said that Witches used it to fly on their brooms to their Sabbath celebrations. Flying ointments are now believed to have been hallucinogenic ointments made with powerful (often toxic) herbs to induce trance and astral projection. Please do not make flying ointments, if you find recipes on the internet. They can be quite dangerous.
Sometimes called a witches jar, a Witches bottle is a magical tool used for protection or curse breaking. It was filled with things like old rusty nails, razor blades, pins, glass shards and urine. It would be buried or hidden on the property, and if anyone sent evil forces your way the bottle would absorb them. If you were afraid you were cursed already, you might cast it into a fire, and when the bottle exploded it meant the curse was broken.
The earliest mention of a Witches bottle is found in “Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions” by Joseph Glanvill, and an intact bottle has been uncovered in England that is believed to be from the 17th century.
Modern Witches have taken to using bottles for spells that involve more than just curse protection. Many people will put specific ingredients matched to their intent into a bottle. For example, if you wanted to draw love, you may fill a bottle with things like red wine, lavender buds, apple slices and rose quartz, then after enchanting it one would leave it uncorked in the bedroom to attract a lover. Likewise, a bottle may be placed in the room of someone ill to absorb the illness, then the contents dumped and buried to disperse it. If you wish to attract wealth, happiness, friendship, etc., a spell bottle is a great method.
Sometimes, the simplest acts can work potent magic when done with the correct intent and attention. A doodle on a notebook can double as a sigil,lighting a candle,can serve as a spell, and brewing the right cup of tea can be witchcraft incognito. This innocuous form of magic is a prime example of how a little ingenuity can squeeze magic out of the most mundane daily rituals. Witchcraft worked with tea is both discrete, allowing you to work magic comfortably in any environment, and accessible to almost everyone.
There are a ton of ways to use tea in your witchcraft, from divination to casting spells, to adding a magical oomph to crafts, altar work, and more. Here are some of the most common ways to practice the craft using tea.
Tea Leaf Reading
This is easily the first place everyone’s mind goes when it comes to witchcraft and tea. Reading tea leaves, or tasseography is a form of divination done by interpreting the patterns of tea leaves left in a teacup after the tea has been drunk. This form of divination dates all the way back to the 17th century shortly after the introduction of tea to Europe. Some diviners use specialized teacups for reading tea leaves but you can read tea leaves just as easily with a regular teacup from your cupboard. Just don’t go using a coffee mug as the shape makes reading the leaves quite difficult!
Reading tea leaves is a fairly simple process. Add your loose tea leaves to the teacup and pour hot water into the cup. Allow the tea to brew to your liking and enjoy it as you normally would. Some diviners say that the tea should be taken without milk or sugar but I don’t find that these things alter my results much. Next, place a napkin on the saucer and when you’re finished drinking your tea, swirl the cup 3 times and turn it upside down on the saucer. Make sure that you have only dregs left when you do this, enough liquid that the tea leaves can move but not so much that the leaves will drain right out of the cup when it’s upturned. It can take a bit of practice to figure this part out but it isn’t terribly difficult once you’ve developed an eye for it. Now you can turn the cup right side up and interpret the shapes and symbols left in the tea leaves!
There are many ways to analyze the leaves left in your cup and everything from the direction your cup handle is facing to the height of the leaves on the side of the cup can influence an interpretation. If this form of divination interests you, I would suggest picking up a book on tea leaf reading that contains an explanation of the various ways to interpret your cup and an extensive symbol dictionary.
Crafting Your Own Tea Blends
Pre-made tea blends are typically designed with taste in mind but you can craft your own tea blend with a more magical purpose. Combining herbs for their magical properties and brewing them into teas allows you to create homemade potions and spells with ease. You can even build a repertoire of magic herbal tea recipes that you can use to quickly and easily case a wide variety of spells. Here are a few of my favorite herbs and spices to use as well as a few of my own tea spells.
- Chamomile – Healing, attracts abundance and opens the energy to be more receptive.
- Rose hips – Very healing, draws good luck
- Ginger – Draws success, prosperity, confidence, sensuality, and a sense of adventure.
- Orange peel – Draws luck and money
- Cardamom – Good for love, lust, and keeping a lover faithful
- Dandelion root – Good for dream magic, divination, and spirit work
- Ginseng – Used for love, beauty, and protection
- Hibiscus – Used for attracting love, divination, and dream magic
- Honeysuckle – Draws prosperity and quick abundance
- Lemongrass – Cleansing and psychic opening
- Lemon – Cleansing and removing energetic blockages
- Bergamot – Protection from evil and illness, stops magical interference
Protection & Cleansing Tea
● 1 pt bergamot ● 1 pt black tea ● 1 squeeze of lemon (note: this is essentially just earl grey tea with lemon which is why I LOVE this blend for quick cleansing)
Love Drawing Tea
● 1 pt hibiscus ● 1 pt ginger ● 1 pt ginseng
● 1 pt orange peel ● 1 pt rose hips ● 1 pt chamomile
Adding Magical Tea In Other Parts Of Your Life
As much as I’m sure many of us love drinking tea, there are also people out there who are decidedly NOT tea drinkers. For those of you who cringe at the thought of sipping on a mug of hot leaf water, there are still ways you can incorporate these kinds of herbal infusions into your craft.
Use tea as a base for recipes
Does your recipe call for water? You can substitute a weakly brewed tea for water in many cases without affecting the taste of the food overmuch. If the food you’re cooking is particularly light flavored, you can even use a cold infusion. Simply place your herbs into the desired amount of water in your fridge for an hour. This allows the energy of the plants to infuse the water without imparting too much of the taste. Cold infusion is actually the ideal way to extract the greatest amount of plant energy from your botanicals since cool or cold water is able to accept more energy than warm or hot water.
Be warned though! Stronger tasting ingredients like ginger and citrus will likely come through in the flavor of the water despite cold steeping. If you want your infusion to still basically taste like water it’s best to avoid these more intense ingredients.
Adding tea to baths
Using teas in cleansing baths is a perfect way to add magic to your self-care routine! You can use a cold or hot infusion for this method and incorporate herbs that you might not normally put together due to taste conflicts. Since you’ll be soaking in this tea rather than drinking it, it won’t matter what it tastes like! For baths, I recommend brewing up a fairly large amount of tea, typically I use about 8 cups of boiling water and 1/2 – 1 cup of herbs. I let the herbs steep until the water is a comfortable temperature (20-30 minutes depending on the time of year) and then add it to my bath water.
Using tea at the altar
There are many ways to use tea on your altar, using tea as an offering is a simple and very homey way to show respect to a spirit or deity. Choose herbs that your particular being prefers and brew up a cup for them once or twice a week. If you like to be sociable with them, you can even brew a cup for yourself as well and have tea with them! This can be a lovely way to build familiarity and closeness with the important spirits in your life.