From the Introduction
The Magick of Essences
There is something really mysterious about flower essences. There are lots of theories and models for how they work, but the truth is that we cannot truly measure what makes them effective. In spite of that, they really do work. Studies formal and informal alike show that flower essences work better than a placebo. The inherent mystery of flower essences lends to their use beyond the healing arts.
I started using essences in my own spiritual practice outside their traditional role in flower essence therapy. I meditated with them, used them to facilitate journeying and dreamwork, and combined them with other ingredients in spellcraft and ritual. I did this with an investigative spirit and an open heart. The essences themselves, and the consciousness of the plants that works through them, led the process. I found other practitioners using essences in magick and ritual, too, which validated my exploration and motivated me to continue.
Whether we use essences as medicine or magick, therapy or thaumaturgy, they always bring balance to the mind and spirit, eventually grounding this into our bodies. Essences offer more radiant health and a deeper connection to the parallel worlds of nature and spirit. They remind us that our very lives are equally as mysterious as the mechanisms by which they work, and they offer us tools for embracing the mystery and magick of everyday life.
From Chapter 8. Flower Essence Magick
Plants are at the heart of many traditional practices in witchcraft and magick, and that includes the making of charms, talismans, and amulets. Whether steeping herbs into a tea or potion or wrapping a root in red cloth to create a protective amulet, plants are essential to magick. Initially, I thought this was merely the principle of correspondence in action, but over the course of my studies I learned that the plant spirits themselves play a role in all magickal uses of botanical ingredients, although not every magician may be aware of this spiritual interaction. Because flower essences are such intentional products of communing with plant spirits, they are potent materia magica that can be incorporated into magick and spellcraft in a variety of manners.
Although flower essences are still primarily used in therapeutic practice, they are gaining popularity in occult circles for a wide variety of uses. Flowers and other botanicals have always played a valuable role in magickal and spiritual traditions the world over, and flower essences offer sustainable, safe, and effective means for working with plant spirits in magick and ritual. Throughout this chapter you’ll find inspiration for ways to incorporate essences into your magickal practice.
Making Flower Potions
For many people the word potion conjures images of bubbling cauldrons and alchemical laboratories. The word is derived from the Latin potio, meaning “drink” or “poisonous draught,” and nowadays refers to liquids of many types used in magick-making. From medicinal tinctures and teas to essential oils and flower essences, potions are composed of natural substances derived from plant, stone, and animal alike, often made to correspond to specific astrological timing. They can be used for internal or external use, and safety can vary contingent upon ingredients. Flower and vibrational essences are among the safest varieties of potions available, since they contain little, if any, botanical material and seldom have unpleasant effects.
The process of making flower essences is itself an act of potion-making. Essences can be further incorporated into other potions for virtually any use, from teas and tinctures aimed toward healing to magickal baths and anointing potions. Flower essences offer profound effects and potent spiritual energy in just a few precious drops, which makes for an economical way to produce potions. Essences enliven your magickal brews, since they contain the pure imprint of the consciousness or spirit of the plants from which they are made. They also blend easily with other essences, as well as with other, more traditional potion-making ingredients.
While all flower essences and blends of essences constitute potions from a broad definition, I tend to differentiate flower essence potions of a more magickal nature from therapeutic applications of essences in my healing practice. Generally speaking, when consulting with a client or student about an essence combination I use a more clinical approach. Making flower essence potions is something I generally reserve for a more magickal and spiritual setting. For me, an essence combination is truly a potion when blended and empowered with magickal intent; in other words, flower essence potions, with or without other magickal ingredients, are those blends made in a ritual setting and are magickally consecrated or charged with a purpose in mind. Sometimes after consulting with a client using traditional methods for essence selection I’ll blend their dosage bottle in a magickal setting to create a highly potent and charged blend combination. You will find instructions for charging flower essence potions in chapter 9. Note that while this distinction is the one I use for my own practice, I invite you to create your own definitions based on your own experience.
Essences offer alternatives to working with raw botanical ingredients. They can allow access to plants that are otherwise hard to get, and offer a much safer route for working with the traditional baneful herbs of witchcraft. Flower essence potions can be crafted from essences alone, or you can blend essences with herbal infusions, tinctures, oils, spirits, and other ingredients to achieve the desired magickal or medicinal outcome. Using essences as potions and potion-making ingredients is economical in the long-run, as very little essence is required. Potions may be used internally or externally (depending on the non-essence ingredients you’ve added). Use them to anoint yourself and your tools, and employ them in dressing candles, charm bags, and other magickal creations. Essence-based potions can be used to sanctify your ritual space, ward your home, and offer healing. Consult chapters 9 and 10 for inspiration to create your own flower essence potions and spagyrics.
Dressing Candles with Essences
Incorporating flower essences into candle magick was one of the first ways that I explored using flower essences in spellcraft. It is a simple way to forge a connection to the plant spirits who are best suited to assisting you in your work, and it is a simple, effective way to augment your candle magick. I started by adding a couple drops of an essence to candles lit in my devotional spaces, like household shrines and altars to deities. In cases where I didn’t have the appropriate herb in my magickal cabinet, I started to use the essences as a means of offering that plant’s gifts to the beings enshrined: rose for Aphrodite, violet for Yemayá, and so forth. In time I noticed how it was effective not only as an offering to gods and spirits, but it also infused the room with the energy of that essence. Soon I moved to pair the essences with candle spells with good results.
There is an art to dressing candles (also called “fixing” candles), with many magickal traditions prescribing their own sets of rules and regulations. Typically, this is done with some mixture of herbs and oils as a means of ritually charging a candle with your magickal intention. Freestanding candles, like taper, chime, and pillar candles, are usually rubbed with oil and sometimes rolled in herbs. The direction in which the oil is applied is carefully observed. Candles imbued with the goal to draw something toward you require that the oil be applied from the top to the bottom or from the ends toward the middle, effectively mimicking the act of attraction. Candles meant to remove or otherwise send away some influence will have the oil rubbed from bottom to top or from the middle outward to each end. To use flower essences in candle dressings such as these, a couple of drops of a single essence or combination of essences can be added to the magickal oil.
I often prefer to use jar candles, like the three-day and seven-day variety in my spiritual practice. I usually dress them with herbs and oils by simply sprinkling a small amount of the ingredients on top of the wax. Using flower essences in these candles is quite easy, too; you need only dispense a couple of drops onto the surface of the wax. Just be sure to avoid the wick, as it may not light if it is saturated with the essence. I usually let the candle sit for several minutes and visualize the energy of the essence expanding to fill the wax before I light it.
Candle dressing with essences is an alternative to using toxic plants and baneful herbs, as well as being a scent-free option for people with sensitive respiratory systems. It is also a discrete way to augment the power of any candle without attracting any attention from others in your space, as the essence will not be visible, unlike herbs and oils. I find that although essences have a much subtler presence than dried herbs and essential oils, they produce wonderful results, often by working on our interior landscape and helping heal the underlying patterns of the psyche that might otherwise stand in the way of manifesting our goals. Additionally, using essences in your candle dressing helps to forge a much stronger bond with your plant spirit allies or familiars.