DIY Infused Basil Oil

I love basil. It is an herb that I use quite often in seasoning blends as well as for remedies and magic. It is also a very common, easy to obtain, herb that you can find in any grocery store.

Basil oil can be used in herbal remedies, such as for making an oil for achy muscles and joints. It can also be used as a natural antibacterial remedy for cuts and scraps. In magic, basil is used for protection, money spells, and spells that aid you in job seeking or improvement in your current job.

I use the variety known as Sweet Basil the most often. It is easy to grow and will reseed itself in your garden.

sweet basil

To make my own basil oil, I start out with dried basil leaves. I fill a jar about half full of the leaves, then add enough grapeseed oil to nearly fill the jar. You want to leave enough free space in the jar to allow you to thoroughly shake the contents periodically. Next, I steep the oil in one of 2 ways. You can place it in a sunny window, shaking the jar a couple of times per day, and let it steep for 2-3 weeks. The quicker method is that I place the jar near the woodstove or other heat source, shaking the jar several times a day, and let it steep for a full day. If using a heat source for fast steeping, be sure that it doesn’t get too hot. The jar should be very warm, but can be handled without a potholder. Once your oil has steeped long enough, strain out the plant material from the oil and store in a labeled jar in a cool dark place.

When making an infused oil, always use dried herbs. The moisture in fresh herbs can cause the oil to go rancid and smell bad. In making the infused oil, you can use your favorite carrier oil, but I choose grapeseed oil as it is very light and absorbs well into the skin without making your skin feel oily.

For my achy muscles, I add a few drops of tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil to the infused basil. If my muscles are particularly achy, I sometimes add some oil infused with ginger to it. The ginger oil is simply made in a double boiler with a bit of grapeseed oil and small pieces of fresh ginger root. I let it steep for about 1-2 hours on the stove before letting it cool.

In winter months, it is not uncommon to see a shelf near my woodstove lined with jars of oils being infused with various herbs. Sometimes, I will take a mixture of herbs from a remedy recipe and steep them all together.

Making the infused oils has an advantage over using essential oils in that, unlike essential oils, you do not have to dilute them. You can add any additional essential oils to your infused oil to make any remedy you need, but no other carrier oil is needed.

In magic, I often will make infused oils in very small jars for spell work. Often, a small jar is all that is needed. A recycled jelly jar is often more than enough oil for most purposes. Especially when making an oil that you do not use often. It takes very little oil to use on candles or other tools.

When I make a money candle, I melt the candle wax and stir in some dried basil or other money drawing herbs. I then pour the melted wax mixture into the candle jar or form and center the wick. Using a skewer, I gently stir the wax to be sure there are no air pockets before the wax cools and hardens. If the wax forms a “bowl” around the wick, you simply add a bit more melted wax to fill it in.

There is so much that you can do with infused oils. Making them yourself can be far less pricey than buying them. It is also a great way to use up dried herbs that are left over from last growing season. I often use up my supply this way just as my new harvest is ready to dry for winter storage.

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DIY Wax Seal Stamps

When I was growing up, my father used to tell me that I should have been born in an earlier era. It was a running joke between us. My love for the old ways was the factor that brought about years of teasing by him. One thing that I have always been fascinated by were the antique wax seals that historically were used to seal letters. The propose of the seal was mainly to let the recipient know if someone had read the later before it reached them. This was especially important with letters or documents of a sensitive nature, such as dispatches between leaders or military. For the people of that time, it was to keep a sense of privacy that their personal letters would not be read by someone it was not intended for. They didn’t use envelopes during that time. The letter was simply folded shut. Without a seal, anyone could read the later and fold it back up again. Using a seal prevented that. Especially if the seal was a very distinctive one that the author of the letter used and was known for.

Today, wax seals are popular among those who do calligraphy. They are also used for special occasions, such as wedding invitations. Then there are those who, like me, enjoy using them for everything from letters to embellishing books. Having custom wax seal stamps made can be expensive. So, I have learned how to make my own.

All that you need to make a wax seal stamp is polymer clay. This is the easiest method. One of the small packages from the craft store makes one nice sized stamp. I take a small package of polymer clay and knead it until pliable. Once it is soft, roll it into a log about one inch diameter. Next, I measure about my thumb width from one end of the clay log (this will be the bottom of the stamp) and begin shaping the longer portion into a handle. You can do this many ways. My favorite is to gently shape the log thinner, stretching it as I go along. When the handle is the length that I want, I twist it to give it a spiral appearance.

Once the handle is made, I make the design for the stamp. Remember that whatever you put on the stamp will be reversed from what the wax seal will be. One easy way to make the design is to center a charm on the bottom of the stamp. Carefully remove the charm to reveal the design.

To make it more customized, draw a design slightly smaller than your stamp’s diameter. You can do this directly on the stamp, or on paper. I use paper for this. I then take wire and shape it over the design, such as a triquetra. I impress the wire design into the bottom of the stamp just add you would with a charm. If you use a design, such as a letter, rune, sigil, or other mark that faces one direction, be sure to reverse it so it will appear correctly when used with wax.

Once you are happy with your stamp, bake it according to the package instructions. Let cool completely. You can paint the stamp with a glossy clear finish if you like or leave as is. To use the stamp, I keep a cloth with mineral oil or other clear oil near my work area. Wipe the stamp with the oiled cloth before pressing into the melted wax to prevent it from sticking to the wax.

Making your own wax for wax seal stamps:

I always have beeswax pellets on hand for my homemade salves. Recently, I began making my own wax for the seal stamps. To color the beeswax, I use broken crayons, a small slice off of a colored hot glue stick, leftover bits from an old candle, or even food coloring paste/gel. Each coloring method will vary the way the seal looks and feels after the wax hardens. Try each put and see which one you like best. To make the wax, I use a small spoon to melt a bit of beeswax with the coloring added. For the beeswax and hot glue stick method, I mix equal amounts of each. Stir with a toothpick to blend the color into the beeswax. Carefully pour the melted wax into a puddle where you want your wax seal to be. Press the stamp into the wax and let sit undisturbed until the wax hardens. This should only take less than a minute to harden. Carefully lift your stamp from the wax to reveal the seal left behind.

Once you begin making and using wax seals, get creative and see what all types you can make. Use textures to form your stamp design. Maybe try using small leaves. The ideas are endless.

My Grimoire Tome Project

From time to time, you find yourself filling up your grimoire, making it necessary to get a new one. Instead of buying one, why not make your own? That is my current project. I have used everything from blank journals to simple notebooks to record in, but found myself wanting to make a tome this time around. My old notebooks are showing enough wear that I want to copy everything into a tome before the notebooks fully fall apart.

A very simple tutorial for the basic steps in bookbinding can be for in a YouTube video by Sea Lemon at https://youtu.be/4QZKxVoIySQ This video gives you the basics that will get you started. Other videos on YouTube will show ideas on how to decorate and embellish your grimoire. Being that my tome is going to be quite large, I am adding the cording along the spine, which will form raised ridges under the leather once finished.

The pages in my tome are made from parchment paper so that I can use my calligraphy inks in it without the ink seeping through to the next page. I love the look of sepia ink written in calligraphy on parchment. It gives that old look to your book. I am also making some handmade wax seal stamps to use to embellish some pages in the future. One use for those is to dry a sprig from a plant you are recording information about and use a wax seal to adhere the sprig to the page.

My tome will be between 600-800 pages by the time I am finished. I plan to use embossed designs and maybe some gold leaf on the cover. Whether I include a leather strap for a closure hasn’t been decided yet. If I do choose to have one, it will have a locking closure for privacy.

There are some ways to avoid having to hand sew that many pages, such as stacking the pages from several blank journals (with covers carefully removed) together and using cloth and adhesive to “bind” the pages together. For a book this size, however, I wouldn’t recommend it. Hand sewing the pages will allow the book to open and lay flat far better. One touch that I definitely will have is several silk ribbon bookmarks added before finishing the cover.

Right now, I am still sewing the pages together and designing the cover. I’m designing symbols that will be cut from cover board to place under the leather to form the raised, embossed look. I have already chosen antiqued brass corner protectors to add to the covers.

Designing the tome has been as much fun as making it. My goal is to have it complete before my birthday. I’ve always enjoyed bookbinding and this is the largest one that I have ever made for myself. Usually my handmade books end up being sold or given away to others. This time though, it is a gift for myself.

Making my own grimoire tome of this size is a project that I have wanted to do for a long time. It is something that will last the rest of my life. Who knows? Maybe someone will want it after my days are gone. I already know of one friend who would gladly claim it. Yes, he is that brave……or crazy.

Walking Staff

Something that I learned, even as a kid, was the value of a good walking staff. I remember when I was about 13 yrs old, I was walking through the woods and tripped on a vine causing me to twist my ankle. My walking staff was such a benefit at getting me back home. To practitioners of the craft, they hold even more meaning than simply a walking aid. Earlier this week, I took a walk into our woods and saw some fallen limbs that had come down in a recent storm and young trees that had grown since two years ago. Looking at them, I found one the perfect diameter for use as a staff.

To make a staff, you can use a branch or maybe even a small tree that is growing too close to others to thrive. Hardwood is best. Luckily, pecan trees are abundant and often new trees grow underneath larger ones after the pecan nuts sprout and grow. I found one that was growing only inches from a larger “volunteer” tree. When I gripped the trunk, my fingertips barely touched. This is the perfect diameter. It gives you a sturdy hold when using it. I cut the tree near the base, then measured it against my height, cutting the length about 6 inches taller than my height. A small distance away, in a clearing, I planted a new pecan tree that I had started last spring. It was an offering to replace what I was taking.

After bringing the staff home, I took out a knife and began cutting away the bark. This is time consuming, but relaxing work. I began thinking of what my staff would be used for and how I would dress/embellish it. I thought about the magical properties of the tree and what it symbolized as I worked. Once the bark was removed, I whittled the ends to round the edges.

The next step was deciding how to treat the wood. After sanding the wood, many people choose to stain the wood, but I simply used a cloth to wipe on mineral oil. Now comes the fun part, embellishing the staff.

You can dress your staff in many ways. Some tie leather straps around the grip area with beads threaded onto the ends of the leather. You can also tie on sacred stones or crystals. I have known of people adding a bell or a cluster of stones that will bump against each other as you walk to make a sound. Some choose to add a small drawstring pouch to carry sacred herbs in. How you dress it really is up to you. Make it personal to you and your path. There is no right or wrong way.

My staff is a tool that I use fairly often. Not only does it aid you when necessary in walking, it grounds you. It can be used in your craft, such as when casting a circle or in directing your energy. It is a tangible link to nature.

Have you ever made your own staff? They are quite easy, yet making your own can be very fulfilling.

Eggshell Protection Powder

For most of my years with the craft, I have utilized ingredients that are easy to find or grow. Much of what I used came from common kitchen ingredients. Here is recipe that I have found useful and very effective.

Eggshell Protection Powder

Dried eggshells

Salt

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Cloves

You start by grinding your eggshells into a fine powder. To this, I mix in a small amount of both cinnamon, cloves, and salt. The ratio that I use is 1 part eggshell powder, 1 part salt, 1/4 part cinnamon, 1/4 part cloves.

This basic recipe can be used to protect your home, alter space, or to make a circle of protection around you. Other ways that I have used it are as a protection incense, to make protection rune symbols during astro travel or spirit work, and mixed with a little oil for a protection oil.

When you have reason to need to “chase someone off” or repel negative energies being thrown at you, add some hot chili powder to the mixture.

Using eggshell powder is easy, inexpensive, and highly versatile. Eggshells are cleansing and protective. You can add any of your favorite protection herbs to them to customize the powder to suit your needs. Eggshell powder is a staple item for many who practice folk magic, hoodoo, and other types of magic traditions. They are easy to come by and nearly always on hand.

A craft type idea to make using this powder is to mix in just enough water to form a stiff dough. Pat or roll it out into a 1/2 inch thickness in whatever shape you desire. Carve into it a protection symbol. Use a straw or skewer to make a hole for hanging. Let dry fully until hardened. Thread a cord or ribbon through the hole. This can hang in any area where it will not get damp.

Why Gardening and Natural Remedies?

I recently got a message from a reader that was upset with my blog for not being witchy enough. She was apparently not appreciative of my posting about gardening or natural remedies when I could “do much better posting witchcraft related topics.” Well, maybe this will clear it up.

Evidently, this reader isn’t aware that gardening, gleaning from nature, and preparing natural remedies has been a part of the craft for centuries. Historically, practitioners of the craft were called upon for their knowledge of natural remedies. They aided their communities in this area. They got there healing herbs and plants through either growing them or by gleaning from the plants/trees in their area. It was a large aspect of their lives. They were healers. Yes, they could do conjuring and spells, but it was their role as a healer that was utilized the most, in many cases. For this reason, I will be posting on these topics.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, it seems that much of the witchy community has forgotten the healing aspects of the craft. In YouTube posts and other social media, the emphasis seems to center around spells and alters. Sometimes they talk about celebrating the Sabbats. Yet, rarely is healing more than a passing thought. There is a misconception that if you don’t work your alter daily or are casting spells, you are not working your craft properly. What a sad joke that is! They ignore a major function of what the practice can be. I find it ironic that so many witches ignore this aspect, yet non-witches are coming to embrace natural remedies. Look at the high level of interest around essential oils for healing. There are companies making a fortune with them.

So, to this reader, if my blog isn’t witchy enough for you, I wish you well as you pass it over for something more to your approval. What I choose to share is not always going to fit the modern mold of what is perceived as witchcraft. Some will like it, some won’t. I am fine with that. You practice your craft as you want, I will continue my path as it leads me.

How I Manage Chronic Pain

Chronic pain from Fibromyalgia and Arthritis have been a struggle for me for nearly 3 decades now. Like many, I used over the counter meds for a time. When it got bad enough that I was losing my ability to walk, a doctor began a regime of prescription meds that I hated taking. I never liked to “drugged up” feeling they gave me. At this point, I had enough of it. I started looking at natural alternatives.

I am not, nor have ever claimed to be, a medical specialist. What I share is simply what I found works for me. Don’t try this without consulting your own doctor or naturapath. I share it only as a testament of what has helped me. It may not work for others.

My first step was to research natural pain relievers. There are many websites and blogs on the subject. As with most topics, you have to be careful in what you take from them. Some are only out to sell a product. Others are very ill advised. If you read long enough, some simply seem like a copy of what others have written. You really have to do your own research, not only online but in reputable books.

My first step was to understand my conditions and the cycle it follows. Autoimmune disorders have a certain pattern about them for many. In my case, I know that stress is a major trigger for pain flares, for example. I started by keeping a diary. I tracked everything from stress levels, activities, and foods that I ate. It didn’t take long for the patterns to begin to emerge.

One trigger was eating commercially raised meat. Beef and pork were horrible for me if it had been through a feedlot or given injections or chemical laden grains. On the other hand, grass fed animals had no affect on me. The first indication of that was when I ate venison without having inflammation or pain afterwards. Salmon was another meat I could eat without bad results. Yet, if I ate meat (beef or pork) from a store, I had a lot of pain afterwards.

I decided to detox my body and ate a vegan diet for two months. No animal products of any kind. I also only chose vegetables and fruit that was either fresh or frozen, nothing from a can. I was surprised that by doing so, I had nearly pain-free days after the first month. My mobility was improving as well. I rarely needed an aid, walker or cane, to walk. I still needed a wheelchair for long outings because of lower endurance, but the pain was far less that before. I then added a meat or other processed food, one at a time, to see what affect it would have. The end result was that any processed food brought back pain and increased inflammation.

Another trigger was stress. This one was harder to adjust. I am very empathic around others. Sadly, I had to cut back my exposure/contact with certain people. They were very draining. They contacted me only when they wanted to vent negativity or were stuck in their “I’m a victim” mentality. I refer to these people as emotional succubus. They literally drain you of energy. Stepping back from them was hard, but in the long run, it helped me tremendously. I also learned to not stress over small stuff, but to look at the bigger picture. What may have stressed me before, really doesn’t matter in the long run.

The third trigger was long outings. Of all, this was the hardest to adjust to. I live in an area that requires a nearly day long excursion to go run errands or get supplies. Unless I want to go to a small, over-priced shop, I have to travel at least 35 miles to get groceries. Clothing shopping is the same. Want to go to the nearest witchy shop? Be ready to drive over 80 miles to get there. I’ve learned to cut back and to (gasp) embrace technology. Any trip is planned ahead. I utilize the store apps that allow me to grocery shop online, then just pick up the order by appointment. I order online and have items mailed to me as often as possible. When I do have to make a trip to a larger city, I plan to rest the day before and again the day after. This doesn’t mean that I laze around. Only that I lighten my activities on those two days.

My diet now is pescatarian. This means that it is similar to a vegetarian diet except that I do eat fish, mainly salmon. When I grocery shop, I do buy other meats for the family, but I rarely will eat it. If I do, it is just a taste of it. I cook meals with the meat separate, so I can have a meatless version of what the family eats. If it is a casserole, then I make a small portion without meat for myself. One example is my family’s favorite…lazagne. i don’t eat carbs, so use eggplant or zucchini in place of the pasta in mine with no meat in the sauce.

When I do have pain, it is far less debilitating than it used to be. I still have bad days, especially after illness, injury, or simply overdoing my activity level. Thankfully, these are not often and not as long lasting as before. When these days happen, my favorite go to remedy is ginger tea with a pinch of cayenne powder mixed in. I mince a slice of fresh ginger root and boil it in a quart of water for about 5 minutes. Then, I add the cayenne and let it steep until cool enough to drink. It is enough to fill my teapot. I add a bit of honey to sweeten before drinking it. After steeping, I remove the ginger and drink the tea throughout the day. Both ginger and cayenne have natural pain relieving properties. I find the time sitting and enjoying the tea to be calming as well.

Since making all these changes about 13 years ago, I have been off all prescriptions and no longer use a cane except on rare occassions. My strength and mobility is far better than when I was on medications. I cannot promise the same results for others, but maybe it can give hope to others who deal with chronic pain.