Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Aaron Leitch, author of several books, including Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical Language Volume I and Volume II, and Essential Enochian Grimoire.
Greetings fellow witches!
Herbal washes and waters are among the most popular tools used in traditional forms of shamanism and folk magick around the world. They have existed for as long as humans have known how to make herbal teas, but their uses go far beyond medicinal beverages. In fact, they are exceptionally powerful tools in any witch‘s arsenal—it might just be easier to list the ways in which herbal waters cannot be used than to list all of their diverse applications. Visit any botanica (shops that cater to African and Caribbean Traditions, such as Santeria, Voodoo, and Hoodoo) and you will typically find several shelves fully stocked with herbal washes for as many purposes as you can imagine.
Yet, for some unfathomable reason, they have been slow to work their way into modern forms of witchcraft. Perhaps this is due to the less-than-amicable relationship between most indigenous folk traditions and modern Neopaganism. In past decades, some aspects of the older systems (such as their focus on the dead and underworld, and their use of animal sacrifice) made many Neopagans uncomfortable. As a result, many things—even very useful things—that originate in those traditions were overlooked by Western practitioners.
Today’s witches and ritual magicians are much more open to magical items that might be found on shelves next to skulls and coffin nails. However, some of these, like herbal washes, are new and mysterious to modern students, who are often unsure exactly how they are intended to be used. Over the past few years, I have posted some blogs on how to make these waters (see here and here) and even video of the process being done. But I still get one question from practitioners above any other: How are these waters supposed to be used? Therefore, in this blog post I will just barely scratch the surface of the nearly endless applications for herbal waters and washes.
Before I get to that, however, let’s briefly discuss herbal waters in general—what are they? My above reference to teas is a major clue: they are made by extracting the essences of plants via water. The difference is that teas (and coffees) are extracted with hot water, while herbal waters do not utilize heat. Instead, plants sacred to the desired occult force are submerged in room-temperature spring water and, by hand, torn and shredded again and again until the water has turned an opaque green. This is done while invocations of the desired force are recited. For example, if I were to make a Solar water, I would use plants sacred to the Sun, and infuse them into the spring water while reciting Psalms associated with Sol. When complete, the reduced plant material is removed, leaving only a dark green-tinted water.
If we get right down to brass tacks, this is a form of ritual plant sacrifice, the chlorophyll being the blood of the plants. When complete, you will have a powerful substance fully charged with the spiritual essence of the desired occult force—and it can be used absolutely anywhere you need to apply that force. Let’s get to some examples:
- Use it like a regular holy water to cleanse sacred space and charge it with a specific occult force. For example, sprinkle Lunar Water around your circle and upon your altar before invocations to the Moon. You can also sprinkle it upon yourself and other ritual participants (or observers) for the same purpose.
- Use it as a wash for your ritual tools and furnishings. Some magical tools are dedicated to a specific deity or force, and an herbal water can help charge and consecrate them to their purpose. Just lightly dampen a cloth with some of the water, and gently wipe the tool, altar, talisman, etc.
- Mix a few drops into your sacred inks or paints. This way, your tools and talismans will have their occult force bound directly into the characters and images you inscribe upon them.
- Use them in place of blood. One of my first introductions to herbal waters came in the form of Santerian omiero—an herbal water that is fed to the Orishas (Gods), and is considered as powerful (or more so) than animal blood. As I mentioned before, the chlorophyll that makes the water green is essentially the blood of the plant. With this in mind, you can use herbal waters in any place a spell normally calls for blood or sacrifice. It is only necessary to determine what occult force the animal represents, and use a water with plants also sacred to that force. (I talk more about this here.)
- Use them as libation offerings. Very similar to their use as blood substitutes, you can offer herbal waters to any spiritual creature. Just use a water containing essence of plants sacred to (or enjoyed by) the entity. It can be poured into a bowl and placed on an altar, poured out onto the ground, sprinkled into the air, and it can even be used in the preparation of other items you wish to offer—either adding it to food dishes or using it to wipe down offertory objects.
- Use as a Floor Wash. Just put some fresh water and a natural cleaning agent into a mop bucket, then pour in some of the herbal water and mop the floor as usual. This will charge your home or business with a desired force. For example, wash the floors of your shop with Jupiter Water to attract prosperity. Wash the floors of your home with Solar Water to bring light and happiness.
- Put it in a spritzer bottle and spray it literally anywhere—including upon yourself or others—to attract a desired occult force. This is great to use alongside the above-mentioned floor washes, as you can continue the cleaning by charging the entire room.
- Add it to your ritual baths. A Solar Water would be a good addition to any standard ritual purification bath. However, you can use other waters to charge the bath with other specific forces. A Lunar Bath could help with dreams and visions. A Mercury Bath could help with study or divination. A Jupiter Bath can attract prosperity and friendship. A Mars Bath could aid your resolve or ability to fight. A Saturn Bath could help you become more invisible.
- Beauty aids. I know of one young lady who mixes a bit of honey into a jar of Venus Water, and applies a small amount to her face every day. On one hand it helps her physically (many plants sacred to Venus are natural beauty aids), and on the other it creates a “glamor” to make her appear younger and more beautiful. Just make sure you aren’t allergic to any of the plants used in the herbal water before you use it!
- You can even spritz it over doorknobs, walkways, and furniture to make sure others will come into direct contact with it. In this way, it is very similar to Hoodoo blowing and sprinkling powders.
- Use it as a base for other magical concoctions. For example, Mars Water and/or Saturn Water make great bases for War Water. You can use them in jar spells, add a few drops to a sachet, or include them as an ingredient in any number of witches’ brews. Just make sure all the plants used to make the herbal water are edible if you intend to ingest anything that includes it.
As I said previously, the above is only a small sample of uses for herbal holy waters. The only true limit to their application is your own imagination. If you would like to try them for yourself, you can visit your local botanica and browse their shelves of “floor washes,” or find them online.
Regardless of whether you make or purchase these waters, I hope this guide will help you understand just how useful, versatile, and potentially powerful they are. No occultist’s ingredient shelf should be without them!
Our thanks to Aaron for his guest post! Visit Aaron Leitch’s author page for more information, including articles and his books.