Love Potions, Charms, and Such….by Tina Sams
From the Jan/Feb '04 issue of The Essential Herbal Magazine
Back in the days when I co-owned an herb shop at a renaissance faire, a great many of our sales would be used as components of amulets, talismans, potions, charms and spells. More often than not they were used to draw love to the one purchasing the herbs. The only other purpose that even came close was the drawing of money or success.
As little children we learn to pull the petals from daisies to learn if “he loves me, he loves me not”. Twisting an apple stem while reciting the alphabet tells the first letter of the future spouse’s name. On and on – so many ways to learn of that one true love. And lets not forget that this is a leap year. According to tradition, women proposing to their chosen mates are not considered to be unduly forward during this window of time. In Scotland, tradition held that a red flannel petticoat was to be worn visibly beneath the dress during the proposal, lest the intended felt inclined to reject the proposal….without the petticoat, that was permissible.
As Valentine’s Day draws near many will be wishing to learn of their lover, draw someone back to them, or feel more secure in the relationship they already have. In a sense, all potions, charms, and spells are a means of visualization, helping a person to focus on that which they truly desire. Personally, I find that the best way to find true love is to give up completely, decide it would be a pain in the…uh…neck, and avoid it at all costs. It will then always sneak up and take me by surprise.
Talismans are often made to bring love. An easy way to remember the talisman/amulet quandary is that talisman starts with a “t” as does talisman. Amulet starts with an “a”, as does away, thus amulets keep things away. A very simple love amulet is made by stringing rosehips into a necklace and wearing it about the neck. A more precise talisman might go something like this: start with a square of cloth, red for love. After considering what characteristics would be desired, find herbs (and other objects) that will represent and correspond to those traits. Someone down to earth? Add a pinch of patchouli. Spicy lover? Cayenne pepper. You get the idea. Traditionally, it would seem that rose petals are an absolute must-have.
Now lets make a few romantic items to add to the mood once you’ve found that special someone. These can also be made ahead in anticipation, and if all else fails, there are always those danged bridal showers.
Nectar of Venus Cordial
This beverage needs to be made up early in January for use mid- February, but it will be worthwhile. The flowers give it a beautiful deep pink color, and can be served with ginger ale and lime slices.
The following ingredients should be placed in a ½ gallon jar with a tight fitting lid that allows for shaking. Be sure to label and date the jar. Put out of sunlight while it sits for 1-6 weeks. Shake occasionally. All herbs and flowers are dry.
1 fifth of good quality vodka ½ c red rose petals
½ c hibiscus flowers ½ c rose hips
½ c spearmint ¼ c granulated orange peel
¼ c cinnamon bark chips
After sitting this mixture is ready to decant. Strain through fine cheesecloth or muslin into a pitcher large enough to also hold the additional 5 cups of Grand Marnier and simple syrup (below).
1 c Grand Marnier
4 c simple syrup made from 2 c water, 2 c sugar.
1 T either rose water or orange blossom water.
Add these ingredients to the vodka mixture and blend well. Allow this to rest for a couple of weeks so that the flavors can become well acquainted. Pour into beautiful bottles, cork, label, and enjoy.
Aphrodite’s Bathing Herbs
Bathing herbs can be used in several ways. Unfortunately, allowing them free rein in the tub is not one of those ways – word to the wise. The easiest, most effective way is to use a large pitcher filled with very hot water and put about ½ c of the blend into a square of cloth, tied loosely. Allow the “tub tea” 5-10 minutes to steep (longer if desired), and then pour into the bath as it is drawn. Some people tie a muslin bag filled with herbs to the faucet to catch the water as it comes out. Others still just throw the bag right into the tub. All of these methods are fine.
Blend together the following:
1 c oatmeal 1 c sea salt 1 c powdered dry milk
1 c dried rose petals 1 c dried lavender 1 c dried patchouli
1 c irish moss
Add to this mixture 20 drops each of lavender essential oil, patchouli essential oil, rose fragrance oil, and musk fragrance oil. Mix very well.
Use approximately ½ cup per bath. This recipe makes quite a large batch, and can easily be halved. It’s such a nice blend that you will want to make up the whole thing.
Satyr’s Massage Oil
Very few things are as romantic as taking time out to give your lover a nice relaxing massage. Not all of us are trained in the art of massage, but in this instance it truly is the thought that counts. A back rub that is delivered with love and care very rarely goes wrong. A fragrant oil makes it all the more pleasant, but remember to keep the fragrance light. Too much can be overpowering if you are covering large areas, and if using essential oils (of course!) it can get to be too much. 10 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil is about the proper strength.
2 ounces Sweet Almond Oil (almost any vegetable oil will do, but the almond is special to the goddess of love).
10 drops jasmine oil
5 drops patchouli oil
3 drops cardamom oil
2 drops petitgrain oil
Blend ingredients and allow to rest for a few days so that the scents mingle. Put into a bottle that is pretty – but usable. A top that allows only a few drops to come out at a time is very helpful. Remember to always pour the oil into your hand to warm it, rather than dropping it right onto the skin you are about to massage.
Candles scented with the essential oils of rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, cardamom, oakmoss, patchouli, and/or sandalwood would be lovely to burn during this evening you have spent time thinking about. The same fragrances in the form of incense can also be used. A nice light dinner and CD of Native American flute music completes the mood.