It’s A Start

To a new site – after trying to sort out how to fit together the Suggested Rituals and the basic magical practice info, I decided they weren’t destined to fit together and that the info about magical practice needed to be separate from Quadrivium Supplies. The suggested rituals and the info on the history and practice of oil use will live at Ritual Oils and the intro to lots of things will live at Magical Basics.

We used to learn magic from books, and orders, and individual teachers. Basic info – how to prepare a candle for burning, how to ensure it burned correctly, how to use resin incense, how to use a table of correspondence – was taught before the more advanced ideas. There’s less of a path now, it seems. Information on magic is available from any number of sources, but it’s easy to jump into the middle without learning practical fundamentals.

The practical stuff is often skipped over because so many of us consider it instinctive – but it’s not. At some point, everybody had to learn how to prepare a candle for a first burn that wouldn’t result in tunneling. We had to figure out that the charcoal used for resin incense isn’t the charcoal used in the grill, and that it’s often available in smoke shops. We just don’t remember that we had to learn all these things. The Magical Basics site is supposed to be where you can find answers to basic questions. Fundamentals like how to prepare a candle, what’s behind the idea of sympathetic magic, why we use a table of correspondence in magic, and how to burn resin incense.

Everything on MagicalBasics is a draft, at this point. Questions and suggestions welcome.

Learning The Basics

Writing about ritual oil basics has reminded me that things I find “instinctive” about magical practice aren’t instinct at all. I had to learn it, at some point, but enough time has passed for me to forget that someone had to teach me.

On Twitter, I asked people about what very basic information they wish someone would have taught them about when they begin practicing. Thorn Mooney made a short YouTube video in response to the question, talking about the blind spots we have regarding information we’ve forgotten that we learned.

Electional Oils

If you’ve ever purchased any oils from Quadrivium Supplies, you know that we have two categories of oils: regular and electional.  Electional oils are more expensive, because they’re ritually made at certain times determined by an astrologer.  That’s the definition we give on our site, but since there’s this blog here, how about a more extensive explanation?

Electional astrology is the branch of astrology which identifies the most astrologically auspicious moments, the best astral configuration, for something to be done.  It’s distinct from horary astrology, where an astrologer will try to determine the answer to a question based on when the question was asked.  Electional astrology looks to find the most favorable astrological configuration possible for an event being planned.  It’s traditionally been used to plan battles, but also to determine the best date for weddings and other important life events. For example, when I was given a choice of three dates for my youngest child to be delivered, her birthdate was selected using electional astrology – the Quadrivium Supplies astrologer looked at the astrological configurations for each day and time, and I chose the most optimal one.

The ritual part of our electional oils comes in with the use of the Picatrix, which is a 12th century Arabic manual of ritual and astrological magic.  It has been suggested that the Picatrix is a handbook of “talismanic magic.”  Jean Seznac, a historian and mythographer, said of the book “[the] Picatrix prescribes propitious times and places and the attitude and gestures of the suppliant; he also indicates what terms must be used in petitioning the stars.”  There are four books to the Picatrix, and it uses what is known as “Chaldean” astrology to determine the position of planets and stars for the creation of talismans for particular purposes.

The Quadrivium Supplies astrologer, who is trained in Renaissance astrology and has studied and used the Picatrix extensively, created charts showing a number of “Picatrix elections,” or times when the planets and stars were in a particular alignment that, according to the Picatrix, was favorable to the creation of a certain kind of talisman.  Instead of creating talismans at this time, I modified the ritual talisman creation and created oils.  For example, during an election involving the star Antares that was favorable to the creation of talismans that would separate things or pull them apart, I created our Banishing oil.  The oil contains yew bark, which is considered an Antares-related substance, and the ritual was performed at the moment ordained by the Picatrix, using the ritual appeal from the text.  During a conjunction that involved the planet Venus, our Reconciliation oil was created, using ingredients that correspond to that planet, along with oils that are traditional for use in love and peace.

Electional oils are magical in their ingredients, like all magical oils, but also in their method and time of creation.  There is a huge amount of preparation that takes place in the creation of an electional oil, and one can only be created during the predetermined alignments – some of these alignments only happen every ten years or more.

So…..why bother?  Why get up at 3am and perform a ritual from the 12th century to create an oil?

For the same reason that the non-electional Quadrivium Oils are made on certain days at certain times, using planetary days and hours from Chaldean astrology.  It results in a more powerful oil.

Your Oil, Your Practice, Your Rules

Ever since Quadrivium started selling online, we gave examples of how to use the oils that we make.  Try carving something into a candle, anoint it in this direction, burn it for three-five-seven nights, etc.  It always comes as a surprise to get emails and phone calls from customers telling us they want to use a certain oil, but they have the wrong color or kind of candle, they think they anointed the candle wrong, the taper took too long and burned out in eight days,not seven, or the petition just smoldered and never caught fire.

The underlying problem is always the same – I didn’t follow the “instructions” on the website, what do I do??

The examples of use for each oil were never intended as a manual for oil use.  The blurbs are examples, ways other people or the oil maker or someone who tested the oil found effective, suggestions in case someone wants to buy an oil but has no training in actually using an oil.  The examples of use are intended to be used as a broad guide to spark the user’s own ideas about what to do with the little amber bottle once it arrives.  It might be easier to follow the suggestions on the website, but oil use should be about what the practitioner needs, how the user feels the oil is best utilized.  There’s no wrong way to use an oil – the most effective method may depend on your personal situation, your focus, your intent.

(Unless your idea is drinking it.  That’s the wrong way to use an oil.)

Maybe you only have a reddish candle someone gave you at an office gift swap and no other candles.  Maybe you don’t have any candles, because they’re not allowed in your room/dorm/house.   The moon is waxing, not waning, but you really need to address the situation or make the petition.  You’re not able to burn a petition.  The candle can’t gutter out safely, it will have to be extinguished after the final night.  You don’t want to write a petition.  You don’t want to use the oil anywhere but on your altar.  Your belief system requires petitions be made in a certain way, contrary to what’s suggested on the web site.

These are all actual problems people have written or called about, and the answer is always the same:

Do it the way that works for YOU.

Oils are not supposed to be scary or intimidating.  They’re supposed to be reasonably easy to use, even for people new to the practice. Our suggestions for use are suggestions, not instructions.  Use the oil in the way that makes the most sense to YOU.  The suggestions on our site reflect the various traditions and training people have been through, as well as being influenced by certain belief  systems.  If something doesn’t work for you, doesn’t make sense to you, or you don’t have the necessary tools to do what we suggest, do something else.

Don’t be constrained or intimidated by the suggestions for oil use.  Experiment with oil use.  Try different things.  While we might be the experts in obsessive-compulsive oilmaking, you’re the expert on how the oil is used in your practice.  Don’t let our lack of imagination make you think that there’s limits on how these oils can be used.

(Except about the drinking thing – don’t do that.)

 

Mix and Match, Part 2

First, let me thank the people who let me know via Facebook and Twitter what subjects they’d like to see discussed on this blog – further information on the planetary system used to make the oils, and the practice of leaving solid materials in the oil, and a few other topics will be upcoming.

(If you haven’t “Liked” the FB page or don’t follow us on Twitter, you’re missing out, because we give things away.  And talk about herbs and oils, as well as bad movies, politics, magic in general, ethics, baking,  and if it’s really okay to put a bay leaf from your supply closet into your stewpot.)

Back to mixing oils!  In the last post, it was all “DON’T CROSS THE STREAMS!” and reasons why you shouldn’t confuse your petition with multiple oils.

But there are some oils that work really well together.  The trick is to think critically about what each oil is for and how it might change or affect the petition if there is already an oil being used.  The example given before was “Get a Job” with “Fortune and Favor,” which sounds like a good mix, but the finding-fulfillment aspect of Fortune and Favor might keep you unemployed, waiting for your perfect job, when what you really need to do is pick up some seasonal retail work.

However, if you were to prepare your supplies and anoint your candle (or whatever you’re using) with Get A Job oil, you can still use a secondary oil.  Money Drawing would be an excellent choice – it’s an oil designed to pull money from any available source, and a job is certainly a source of money.  Those two oils will work together.  You could do two separate candles with one petition, mix them – very sparingly –  in a spray to use on your resume or even just to smudge on your belt or other non-staining fashion item.  The inside of your shoes is a terrific place to use an oil.  Remember to stick to just a drop or two.  Quadrivium Oils are not watered down, so the scent can be penetrating.

Other “money” oils that get along:  Steady Work and Get A Job (that’s kind of an obvious one),  Steady Work and Money Drawing, any of the “money” oils are good choices when you’re just looking for work.  When you’ve got a specific job you’re targeting, though, you’ll want to go with Road Opening and Get A Job.  For the purpose of landing a specific position, that’s the best combination you can use, and a very powerful one.

Rather than having a primary oil and a secondary oil, with this combination, you are using both as primary oils.   You will use an identical petition with two separate candles – or whatever else you’re going to use, candles are the most common items used with oils – and you’ll anoint each candle with the wick end towards you, covering the candle from base to tip, as you envision pulling that job towards you.  If you want to get lunar and planetary about it, you can, but normally this is done out of necessity and most people don’t have the luxury of waiting for the new moon or the Day of Jupiter to give the oil an extra punch.

Light the candles together.  If you’re ambidextrous, very ambitious, and have two lighters, you can do them at the same time.  If not, don’t set your altar on fire, just light the candles one after another.

So why does this work so well?  Road Opening is just as broad of an oil as Fortune and Favor, so why this oil and not that one?  Because of the type of oil – Road Opening is about clearing obstacles between you and what you want, removing whatever blocks there are between Point A, where you are, and Point B, where you want to end up.  Get A Job is a very focused oil that is about employment.  In this case, you’re using Get A Job to target a specific position, and at the same time, removing obstacles between you and what you want.  So right next to the Road Opening candle, burning helpfully, is the  candle for what you want.

Now that this post has far exceeded the 500 word length, it looks like there will be a Part 3, to cover love and relationship oils that can be used together.   As always, feel free to contact Quadrivium via Facebook , Twitter, or email to ask for more info or for assistance in ordering the best oils for your particular situation.

Useful Book Review

Spiral Nature has reviewed the “Herbal Alchemist’s Handbook,” which is probably of interest to people working with oil and herbs.
As always, a solid and intelligent review. The reviewer had the same problems with this book that I have with a lot of books on the same topic:

The author claims her work is based on the ideas of Paracelsus, but the book lacks citations, a bibliography, or even suggested reading list. This is highly problematic as many of her attributions are not explained. Sometimes they are attributions that are more or less occult common knowledge, and other times the numbers, colours, herbs and their meanings vary from the common or traditional systems.

If you’re not reading Spiral Nature, you should be.

Making A Ritual Oil – Part II: Selecting Your Essential Oils

This is the second in a series, which starts with Making A Ritual Oil, Part I.

Since you’ve decided on both your purpose and your table of correspondence already, considered your emotional reactions to certain scents, and determined if you want a solid component to your oil, you’ll be able to select the oil ingredients without too much trouble.
I’m still going to talk about selecting and buying oils, though.

oil bottle

Find pure essential oils. At first, this will probably mean buying from the major essential oil companies that sell in health stores and organic food markets. The brands that these places carry, in my experience, are perfectly serviceable for magical oil-making. You’re restricted to commonly available oils, but when you’re starting to make ritual oils, you probably don’t really need to be tinkering with things that cost $30 for 5ml. There’s a retail mark-up, of course, and you do pay for the convenience, but there’s something to be said for ease of access and uniform oil quality. These are the commercial oils least likely to have synthetics added to boost the scent, or solvents added to “stretch” the oil. Look at the back of the label to check the ingredients. Much as it pains me to say it, your local metaphysical shop is not the best place to shop for pure essential oils. Most of them carry the major metaphysical oil “blends,” which are largely synthetic.

What you’re looking for is 100% essential oil – with a few exceptions. Some very reputable sellers sell a Sandalwood blend, since true Sandalwood (Santalum album, or sandalwood mysore) is endangered and thus extremely expensive. Expensive as in roughly $85 for 5ml, or 1/6 oz. Most people, even those of us who own oil companies, can’t afford true Sandalwood oil. Several major essential oil makers sell a Sandalwood blend that consists of a different strain of Sandalwood (normally Australian, Santalum spicatum) in a base oil. It’s a way of stretching the oil, and as long as the consumer is informed up front that they are purchasing an essential oil in a base, it’s an ethical practice. Some companies also sell Rose essential oil blends, for the same reason. Check the ingredient list on the back of the bottle, if it says it’s a blend – it should have the Latin name of the plant, and the name of the carrier oil. If there’s anything else, it’s probably synthetic additives and that’s not an oil you want.

A lot of people buy their essential oils online, but for people just starting out making oils, I recommend choosing your oils in person. If you can, that is, as I’m aware that some people live in areas that don’t have much in the way of shopping options. Try to avoid eBay and similar sites. They may have perfectly good essential oils available but at this stage, you’re not going to know the good sellers from the ones marketing synthetic scents as essential oils. If you really feel the need to use eBay or another site, ask the seller specifically if this a pure essential oil with no additives, even if the listing seems to indicate that it is. I once got what I thought was an excellent deal on bayberry essential oil, only to discover upon receiving it that it was entirely synthetic. The seller had gone to great lengths to avoid claiming in the listing that it was a pure essential oil, using catchphrases like “pure anoining oil” and “pure ritual oil.” It was my own fault – I didn’t ask enough questions.

Try to avoid the MLM brands. They tend to be massively overpriced.

Now you’ve chosen your oils, based on your table of correspondence and your own instincts. For a simple mix for beginners, I tend to recommend no more than three separate oils. If you feel the oil needs additional attributes, consider adding solid herbal ingredients rather than more essential oils. The scents of the oils can interact with one another in unexpected ways.

In the next part of this series, I’ll actually get around to talking about mixing a ritual oil.

Three Versatile Oils

What are your goals, when you’re doing spellwork? This drives your choice of oil and for a lot of people, they want to buy one or two oils that’s going to give them the most “bang for the buck,” so to speak, the oils that are going to be the most useful for the work that they do.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that the reader mostly uses ritual oils for candle magick. I know lots of people use them for other purposes, but I can’t address everything in one blog post.

lit candle

If your spellwork focuses on seeking a magical boost for your activities or goals, Crown of Success is going to be the most useful oil for you. The ingredients in that oil are for promoting luck and success in financial, business, and academic matters, and contain ingredients to promote clear communication, financial gain, luck, protection and the domination and control of others. It works for success in everything you do, for your relationships and your job and your term paper, etc.

A lot of people do the majority of their spellwork around relationships. If your desire is to influence the people around you (family, friends, employers, etc.) to think kindly and affectionately of you, Love Drawing is the oil you’d find most useful. In theory, Love Drawing’s purpose is to attract a new lover of either sex into your life. The ingredients in the oil, however, lend themselves very well to a broader purpose. In addition to oils that are said to draw love and “heat up” your life, Love Drawing also contains ingredients that are believed to add to your persuasive power and promote good fortune in your personal life. These ingredients make Love Drawing more versatile than it might seem at first glance, since even if you’ve got a love life you’re perfectly happy with, you can use it to smooth out and positively influence all the relationships in your life.

Money is another topic that is the focus of a lot of spellwork. Finding money, getting money, increasing income, keeping the money you have, finding new sources of income, increasing existing sources of income, all of these can be addressed with Money Drawing oil. Some of the ingredients attract money from existing sources, other oils in mix are said to promote success in all endeavors, and the solid herbs promote good luck, good fortune, and new sources of income. While there are oils that are more specific in terms of finding work, keeping money that you have, and achieving a steady income, Money Drawing is the best all-purpose oil for anything that has to do with cash.

These are the three most versatile oils for spellwork in the Quadrivium Oils line. I’m not including Van Van in my list, though Van Van is an all-purpose jinx-breaking, luck-drawing and cleansing oil. It’s been my experience that while Van Van is incredibly useful to have in your cabinet and to use in your house, other oils are more powerful when it comes to spellwork. An upcoming post will concentrate on Van Van and its uses specifically, so don’t think I’m neglecting it or discounting it!

Caveat Emptor

Look, more Latin! Caveat Emptor is a Latin phrase meaning “let the buyer beware.” This is an important thing to keep in mind when dealing with essential oils.

Here’s the thing about essential oils, at least in the USA: they’re unregulated. There’s no governing body with minimum standards, there’s no organization or government entity checking essential oils purity, content, additives, or anything else. There’s no group that certifies essential oils or tests them, either. A company can claim pretty much anything about their essential oils – that they’re graded, pure, rarefied, certified, etc.

This presents a problem for the consumer – since there’s no one certifying or grading oils, the buyer has to be aware that they’re at risk for being swindled. Unless the consumer is very secure in the company they get their oils from, or makes the oils themselves, the “essential oil” that they buy at a store or online could actually be an essential oil…or it could be a fragrance blend oil, a synthetic fragrance oil without one whiff of plant material, some mix of all of these, or something entirely different. To be blunt, if you don’t know your vendor, you don’t know what you’re getting.

There are no regulations on the essential oil industry, and no standardizations. There are no requirements that an oil must meet to call itself an essential oil. It is up to the buyer/user to be aware of this.

So why do companies tell you that their oils are “therapeutic grade” and “aromatherapy grade” and “top grade?” Marketing. Companies can charge more money if they can convince the consumer that what they’re selling is somehow better, or more pure, than the other people selling the same thing.

Most buyers don’t know that there’s no regulation or licensing or quality standards for essential oils, that essential oil sellers can toss terms about grading oils and purity standards around with impunity because they don’t actually MEAN anything. One especially misleading multi-level marketing company claims that their oils are certified as pure by a regulatory entity in France….an entity that does not test or certify essential oils. Likewise, companies claiming that their oils are pure and they can prove it with gas chromatography or a mass spectrometer (a few companies do this) are misleading the consumer – neither gas chromatography or a mass spectrometer can tell you if an oil is a true essential plant oil, or a lab-created facsimile.

So how do you know what companies to buy from? The same way you learn about quality vendors of other items – you ask around. You order teeny-tiny samples and see how they work. You do your own research and your own tests and you educate yourself.

(As to why it’s important to use actual essential oils in magick and not, say a synthetic fragrance oil that you got for $5 on eBay, you can read my entry on Why Oil Ingredients Matter.)