Archive for the ‘Doc Solomon’s’ Category

Making Goetia of Solomon Skrying Incense   Leave a comment

Greetings fellow Summoners!

00-seal of solomon

Today I would like to share something rare and precious: the making of the incense prescribed by the Goetia of Solomon – found in the Lemegeton.

I’ll explain exactly why it is both rare and precious in a moment, but let me first quote the relevant portion of the grimiore.  It is found after the long list of 72 spirits, under the ‘Maigical Requisites”, where the Secret Seal of Solomon (pictured above) is described:

This secret seal is to be made by one that is clean both inward and outward, […] It is to be made on a Tuesday or Saturday night at 12 of the Clock, […] When it is so made, fume it with alum, raisins of the Sun, dates, cedar and lignum aloes…

The list of ingredients, with its raisins and dates, might remind one of Egyptian Kyphi incense, as its base is made from raisins soaked in wine.  (It is certainly possible the Goetia is attempting to mimic that recipe, though there is no evidence beyond the shared ingredient.)  However, what truly makes this incense precious is the inclusion of lignum aloes.  Also known as agarwood, lignum aloes can only be obtained from the heart of an increasingly rare far-Easterm tree (aquilaria malaccensis). Furthermore, the aloes can only be obtained after the tree has been infected with a specific species of mold.  According to its Wikipedia entry, agarwood is one of the most expensive natural resources in the world – and frankly that was likely true even when the Lemgeton was written.  Today, some sellers of incenses have even ceased carrying it in the hopes of preserving the dwindling trees.

I was able to acquire several ounces of lignum aloes – though I had to import it from Indonesia.  In the bag, it looked much like any ground wood incense – like cedar, only slightly darker.  We immediately lit a censer, and places the tiniest pinch of the material onto the coal.  It has a woody smell (no surprise there) with perhaps a small hint of musk.  I would describe it as smelling like fresh dirt after a rain, because it does, but I don’t want to give the impression it smells anything like patchouli.  It’s not nearly as sweet as that.

As you see above, the perfume is instructed for use in the making of the Seal of Solomon (used to bind the spirits to the Brass Vessel).  However, once I had a small whiff of pure lignum aloes, I began to suspect it was intended for much more.  It made my head tingle as if a head-rush was about to begin, and gave me a somewhat stoned (“buzzed”) feeling – almost as if the world had shifted slightly and left me with a touch of vertigo.  The affects didn’t last long after the incense was gone.  I knew right then, lignum aloes (or agarwood) is a powerful skrying incense!  It could very well be intended for use during the evocations.

After that experience, I couldn’t wait to get the complete recipe put together and see what the result smelled – and felt – like.  So I went out and bought packages of raisins and dates – making sure they had no added sugar, sulfur, or other preservatives.  As it turned out the packages contained 7oz (rasins) and 10oz (dates) for a total of 13oz of fruit:

01-Raw Fruit

About 2/3 of the fruit shown here.

 

You might have noticed the Goetia includes a rather odd ingredient in the incense: alum. This is generally used as a preservative, and has the effect of slightly hardening fruits and vegetables that are soaked in it.  Its has an extremely sour taste, and was therefore popular in the making of pickles.  It was originally alum that gave pickles their snap when you bit into them.  (Due to health concerns, most pickles today do not use alum.)

It seems unlikely that alum would make a good ingredient in an incense – for both reasons of health and scent.  However, it seems quite likely the alum would have been included to preserve the raisins and dates.  And the proper way of doing that is to soak the fruits for several hours in water that has been enriched with alum.  The result can then be dried out and powdered, with the preservative already infused.

I didn’t use all the fruit in the first attempt, as it gets pretty bulky and I had to eventually fit everything onto a cookie sheet.  So I did it in two batches.  In order to maximize the contact between the fruit and the water, I gave it a good chopping beforehand:

02-chopped fruit

 

Then it was into a bowl of fresh spring water (NO tap water!) into which I had dissolved as much alum as it could hold:

03-Alum Water

04-fruit in water

Probably didn’t need this much water.  On the second batch, I just covered the fruit with water, plus a bit more.

 

I let them soak for about 8 hours the first time, but I found 6 hours to be more than sufficient for the second batch.  In both cases, it resulted in what looked like a bowl full of mushy sliced olives:

05-after soaking

Not actually olives…

 

These were then strained and placed outside on a cookie sheet to dry in the hot sun next to the “desert plants” section of my herb garden:

06-dry in sun

 

As it turns out, I did lose a few pieces of the above to birds and/or squirrels – but not much.  Next time, I’ll try to fashion a proper drying bed out of two screens: one on the top and one on the bottom, so air can get to all sides of the fruit (or herbs, etc) but animals can’t.

I made sure both batches had a couple of days out in the sun, to make sure they soaked up plenty of solar energy.  But it quickly got too rainy and humid (late spring in Florida!) to continue drying them outside, so I opted to complete the drying process in the oven inside.  It took a couple of days at the absolute lowest oven temperature setting.  Then the dried fruit went into the incense grinder:

07-grinder

The resulting powder was actually still a bit damp, so I spread it out on the cookie sheet and returned it to the oven for a few more hours.  In the end, 13 oz of fruit resulted in about 6 oz of powder, consisting of raisins, dates, and alum:

08-powdered fruit

 

After some testing of the different ingredients (I already had powdered cedar on hand), I decided it was best to use the following mixture:

1 pt Raisins & Dates infused with Alum

1/2 pt Cedar

1/2 pt Lignum Aloes (Agarwood)

The above is measured by weight.  It may seem odd that the fruit should be the greater ingredient, but remember it is denser and heavier than the powdered woods.  A single ounce of raisins and dates by volume is very little compared to the same weight of cedar or aloes.  For my first batch of Goetia Skrying Incnese, I used two ounces of the fruits and an ounce each of the cedar and lignum aloes.

09-finished product

 

The final result gives me the same “buzzed” feeling as the lignum aloes alone, plus it adds something between a musky and a fruity smell.  My wife at one point said it smelled like walking through a forest after the rain, and at another time said it reminded her of fruit cake!  In either case, it is definitely a musky and almost-heavy scent – doubtlessly quite suitable for chthonic evocations.  (My own familiars have already requested some!)

I will be consecrating this new incense on May 31st – the first Wednesday of the waxing Moon.    I don’t have a lot of this, and it will have to cost more than my standard incenses, but I will be offering it on Doc Sol’s site – so stay tuned either there or on the Doc Sols Facebook Page!

Llewellyn Magick Blog: The Many Magical Uses of Herbal Waters   Leave a comment

Greetings Fellow Witches!

 

magick_blog_updated

From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, April 4, 2017:

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.

Read the Rest at:  http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2017/04/many-magical-uses-of-herbal-waters/