This past winter solstice I made a mandrake flying ointment.
The magic I weaved with this ointment was to call in abundance.
Accepting loving touch.
Bravery to speak hard truths.
This was my solstice magic.
The magic and medicine seemed to resonate with folks. The ointments sold out in about a week. I’ve decided that this time around I will show you how I make mandrake ointment. That way you can make one yourself or know exactly what you’re getting when you order one from my witch’s cabinet.
The first step is to find mandrake root. I bought the mandrake root for these salves from Self Heal, an apothecary in Victoria. Mandrake grows in Southern Europe (though it made it’s way through trade all throughout Europe). This means that the climate where I live (an inland canadian mountain valley on unceded sinixt territory) isn’t ideal for growing mandrake.
If you can’t harvest or grow mandrake yourself, look out for wild-crafted sustainably harvested sources. You can smell when a plant is healthy; it’s medicine strong. The colours will be more vibrant. Feel the plant in your hands and notice how it feels in your body.
Trust your intuition as you get to know the plant.
The other ingredient in this salve is cottonwood buds. I harvest cottonwood from a healthy patch near my house. Cottonwood helps soothe the skin and is used in many European witchcraft practices to aid in astral travel. It’s a beautiful partner for this salve and can be harvested in many places.
I made the oil for this salve in a 1 liter widemouth mason jar. I added 1/2 cup of lightly dried cottonwood buds and 1 cup of thinly grated mandrake root. Then I covered the root and buds with olive oil (you can also use grapeseed, sunflower etc), put on the lid, labeled it with the date and ingredients and left it to sit for a month, in a cool dark shelf in my apothecary.
I prefer to let the medicines I make sit for 3 to 6 months, if possible. This means the medicine is strong and well infused. You can also play with astrological influences in your medicine. I try to bottle and make medicine on significant days. New and full moons. Solstices and equinoxes. I also prefer passive or lunar infusion over heat infusion because I feel it is more gentle and maintains more healing properties in the medicine. That being said, the best infusion method depends on what kind of medicine you’re making and how soon you need it.
Lately I’ve been playing with gentle heat infusion in my medicine making, because it helps me make medicine more quickly. For this mandrake salve I added half the jar’s contents into a double boiler (I left the rest to infuse in the jar) and gently heated the medicine til it became fragrant and the herbs looked spent. You want to avoid heating the oil til it bubbles, because that generally means the oil is too hot and that can kill off the nutrients needed for a strong medicine. Gentle heat is better, that’s why double boilers are awesome for medicine making.
Once the oil feels ready, I strain the herbs out. You can see the cottonwood buds and mandrake root pretty clearly in this picture. For many medicines, especially those that are passively infused, you may want to strain the medicine with cheesecloth or even a press. There is much medicinal content that can come from pressing the last medicine out of the plant matter. I tend to avoid pressing with cottonwood buds because of how sticky they are. Heat infusion can work well for decocting roots; that’s another reason why I use gentle heat for mandrake root oil. Pressing, I have found, works best for petal, leaves and flowers. Or roots that soften a great deal upon being processed.
Then, I added the oil back to the double boiler and added beeswax to the mix. I used to make salves with a 1:5 beeswax-to-oil ratio, but this time I used a ratio of 1:4, because I want to make a slightly harder salve. I like using less beeswax so there is more plant matter in the medicine, but the downside is the salves are not as solid. Thicker salves travel better, spread a bit more thick on the skin, and are less likely to melt in someone’s bag or back pocket. I definitely prefer beeswax to emulsifying wax, because it is harder so you can use less of it. I also find beeswax feels better on my skin, and I love the medicinal properties it carries.
Some other things I have used as thickeners are coconut oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and carnuba wax. I have also found that when I make salves using pig fat (which my ancestors would have done) they stand alone without thickener. I’m lucky because I can source pig fat from my buddies who lived in the front yard, but you can also source it from a trusted local butcher and it is usually pretty inexpensive. It does take love and time to render fat though.
While I prefer not to make my medicine with vegan ingredients, I can do it as a special order. If you’re interested in a vegan (no beeswax) version of this salve feel free to email me with your order at email@example.com
Once the wax has melted, I pour the salves into jars and leave them outside to cool. You can see from these two pictures how much the colour changes as the salve hardens.
And there you have it. That’s how I make a mandrake salve.
Some folks have also asked how I use this salve. I use it on sore muscles primarily and have found it to create great pain relief. I also use it as a massage oil for me and my partner if we’re intending to have sexy times together. We find it makes us giddy, relaxed and more connected to each other. I also use the medicine almost like a solid perfume, particularly when I’m wanting to call something in, like loving touch or money. The salve has an earthy smell that I really appreciate, and I have found it to be an amazing luck charm for abundance of all kinds. It has literally delivered what I’m looking for and often more, every time I use it.
You can order a mandrake salve here and learn more about the magic in this medicine here. The article about the magic of the salve will also direct you to resources to learn more about mandrake as a plant. Mandrake has a rich history, and I highly recommend learning more about it.
Check out the product listing for contraindications. As a rule of thumb – folks who are pregnant, nursing or allergic to aspirin will want to stay away from this medicine. That being said – if you want to get pregnant, but you aren’t yet, this medicine may appeal to you.
If you have additional questions about this medicine, feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or connect with me on facebook.
Best of luck in your medicine making <3