Though a bubbling cauldron filled with herbs and liquid releasing fragrant steam into the air is a potent stereotype of witchcraft, it does not seem to be a large part of modern practice. The cauldron, while still a valued magical implement of a great many witches, has shifted from being a practical cooking pot and potion-brewing vessel to more symbolic uses. Acting as a censer, fire pit, or spell receptacle are all perfectly appropriate and powerful functions of a witch’s cauldron; I’m not speaking against these practices, however they’re not the only capabilities to harness in this most magical of tools. Over twenty-five years ago, one of the first aspects of the craft that piqued my interest was the power of herbalism and in particular, the wonderful possibilities of potions. Personally, I enjoy the simplicity and romance of potion-making and have found them to be of great use for myself and others.
I think my definitions of potions and witch’s brews are in keeping with most people’s general ideas regarding such matters. To clarify, my definition of potion is an edible, often water-based liquid mixture that is meant to be ingested for magical purposes, and my definition of brew is a liquid, often water-based mixture that is not meant to be ingested. When I began the task of writing my latest book, Witch’s Book of Potions back in 2016, there were very few books available that offered any potion or brew recipes that fit my definitions. That is only now beginning to change. Most books mentioning witch’s potions were focused on incense and oil recipes versus anything water-based, and certainly nothing edible. I decided to make it a mission to encourage a resurgence of interest in witch’s brews and potions.
It is remarkably easy to incorporate potion and brew magic into an existing practice, since they provide wonderful enhancements to spell-work, ritual, and divination of many different types. The range of possibilities in spell-work is quite vast; there are formulas for protection and banishing, healing and love, curse removal, even elemental and planetary magic. In ritual, there are recipes for the Sabbats and esbats to create greater alignment to the unique energies present at each of those special times. When it comes to divination potions, we can see some familiar options in a new light. For example, mugwort and wormwood are not only classic incense or oil combinations to aid in divination, but brewing these herbs together in water can make a drinkable potion to aid in psychic awareness, and the liquid itself makes a potent scrying medium when poured into a cauldron or dark bowl. In this way these herbs offer not one but four different methods for their use: incense, oil, potion, and brew.
Potion-making is an underutilized yet powerful form of magical practice and can really be as simple as combining some herbs, water, energy, and intent into a pot simmering on a stove, which is then transformed into a repository of power.
Our thanks to Michael for his guest post! For more from Michael Furie, read his article, “13 Uses for a Witch’s Potion.”