This formulary, or recipe book, contains recipes for just about every magical and ritual purpose under the sun. The cover says there are “over 1,200 recipes, potions and tinctures.” I didn’t count them, but there are certainly a lot!

Part I gives an introduction to oils and some rudimentary instructions on measurements and equipment.

Part II: Magical Formulations occupies the bulk of the text (pp 13 – 278). Recipes are given in categories: Elementals; Love, Attraction & Sex; Emotional and Physical Healing; Chakras; Psychic & Spiritual; Home; Money; Job & Financial; Luck & Legal; Gambling; Gods & Goddesses; Saints and Angels; Hexing, Banishing & Uncrossing; The Mother Moon; Sabbats and Rituals; Planetary Oils; Zodiacal Oils.

Each recipe gives a list of ingredients and amounts (proportions). For example: “Irresistible Oil: ½ part Myrrh, ¼ part Peppermint, ¼ part Carnation. Makes the wearer irresistible!” (page 44) The recipes may include instructions for use, spells, and recommend procedures, along with instructions for making tinctures. These are a mixture of herbs that have to be soaked for several days before using.

It’s hard to tell which recipes are tinctures since all the recipes are labeled as “oils.” Obviously, if dried herbs are called for, it’s a tincture.

The recipes given come from a variety of sources. Some are the author’s, while others are traditional Voodoo potions (like Van Van oil) or from old grimoires (like Abramelin oil). Heldstab’s sources aren’t explicit, and there are no citations to her sources.

Most of the oil recipes require three or four fragrance or essential oils. Novices will easily be able to concoct these. Since these are oils made for magical purposes, there isn’t a high level of artistry in the ingredient lists. A good portion of the potions to be worn are floral blends that some may find a bit cloying. Be aware that this isn’t a book about perfumery or subtle fragrance balances. Commercially-sold perfumes can be composed of fifteen to fifty ingredients with much more complicated proportions.

The beginner will need to be prepared for an initial investment in equipment, and acquiring a collection of essential and fragrance oils can take time and a lot of money. In the past ten years, the costs of rare or hard-to-extract essential oil prices have become stratospheric (and this isn’t mentioned). In some cases, fragrance oils are the only reasonable option – especially in the musk category. The essence of some flowers can’t be extracted, so synthesized fragrances are the only way to go. Two sources of supply for oils are given.

Part III: All About Oils begins with a survey of carrier oils. This is followed by a profile of essential oil, what they are, how they are made and used. “Popular Oils” (pp 287 – 380) gives detailed information about individual oils, including therapeutic uses, instructions for methods of preparation and applications, and very sensible warnings about avoiding risks and averting injuries to skin, face, and eyes. The section called “Magical Intent” gives some guidance on potion-making mind-set followed by charts with the oils appropriate for specific workings (i.e. Happiness: catnip, celandine, cyclamen, etc.) This looks like it replicates Scott Cunningham’s book on the same subject, with perhaps a few added or deleted because of rarity or author’s preference.

There is an Herbal Correspondence Chart (p 389) that lists oils with affinities to elements, planets, zodiac signs, and a chart with the Language of Flowers. There’s a bibliography and an index.

This is a good recipe book for beginners. Novices will need to supplement this book with texts that provide more in the way of technical advice about equipment, tincture-making, and acquiring supplies and appropriate equipment. I’d recommend “Holy Smoke: Loose Herbs & Hot Embers for INTENSE Group Smudges & Smoke Prayers” by Amy Martin (a review for this book is on this site) for in-depth information about equipment and supply acquisition. More experienced potion-makers may want to acquire this as a supplemental reference for older, traditional recipes. It’s well-organized and easy to use, and a good source of inspiration for making personalized magical oils for almost any purpose.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Author: Celeste Rayne Heldstab
Llewellyn 2012
pp. 405, $21.95