Potions & Magical Brews - Choosing Ingredients

You can do a quick internet search and find a plethora of potion recipes. These can be helpful when you’re first learning how to combine ingredients and create the kind of potion you want.

Use your best judgement when choosing what recipes to try. Don’t assume that a potion is safe just because the recipe says it is, verify the safety of all the ingredients and make sure you have the proper tools to make that particular potion. If you don’t have all the ingredients that the recipe calls for, by all means, substitute these with whatever you feel makes sense for that potion.

When checking the safety of herbs it’s vital that you check both whether or not it is edible AND whether or not it could interact with any medications you’re taking or conditions you have.

Common herbs that interact with medication:

  • St. John’s Wort

  • Black Cohosh

  • Echinacea

  • Garlic (yes, for real)

  • Gingko Biloba

  • Ginseng

  • Goldenseal

  • Kava

Common herbs that can cause miscarriage:

  • Queen Anne’s Lace

  • Rue

  • Rutin containing plants (buckwheat, elder plants, etc.)

  • Angelica

  • Black Cohosh

  • Ginger

  • Mugwort

  • Parsley

  • Pennyroyal

  • Tansy

  • Blue Cohosh

  • Cotton Root Bark

These are not complete lists, always do your own research! Below I’ve included a worksheet to help you research and keep records on the herbs you use.

Once you get comfortable with the different potion-making methods, I recommend that you start creating your own potion recipes. 

The first step to creating your own potion recipes is to think about the goal of your potion. What is your intention? What is your desired result? Get clear on those two questions before you begin.

Next you’ll want to think about what form of potion would best fit that intention AND for your personal magical preferences. Ask yourself what kind of magic you’d like to perform. Are you feeling drawn to candle magic? Create an oil to anoint your spell candles. Does a ritual soak sound good to you? Mix up a potion to add to your bath.

After you’ve figured all of that out, you can select your magical tools and ingredients to suit your potion. 

Choosing A Base

You’ll need to pick a base for your potion. This will depend on what type of potion you’re planning on making and its intended purpose. For example, if you want to make a traditional tincture, you’ll need to use alcohol as a base liquid. If you’re making a potion for drinking, you’ll choose a base liquid that is safe to ingest like fruit juice or sparkling water. 

If you are deciding between several base liquids, think about your personal associations with those liquids. Maybe you’re making a love potion, and you know that the color red immediately puts you in the mood for love. You can use cherry or cranberry juice as a base liquid. If you’re making a success potion, maybe you’ll pick sparkling water because you associate bubbly drinks with celebrations. 

Remember, as long as the ingredients are safe for your potion’s purpose, there’s no wrong answer! Pick whatever you’re drawn to. If you make a potion and you’re not happy with the results, just tweak the recipe and try again.

Here’s an example list of base liquids you can use in your potions:

  • Water

  • Honey

  • Nectar

  • Morning dew

  • Ocean water

  • Sparkling water

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Beeswax

  • Vitamin E oil

  • Any of the recommended carrier oils mentioned earlier

  • Fruit Juice

  • Milk

  • Almond Milk 

  • 140-proof ethyl alcohol

  • Any other liquid that you think would make a good base for your potion!

Choosing Herbs & Oils Using Traditional Magical Associations vs. Intuitive Magical Associations

There are two main ways to choose magical ingredients. You can research what kinds of spices, resins, herbs and crystals are traditionally associated with your intention. From that list, you can gather up the ingredients that you have on hand and decide which ones would go well together. 

Another method is to think about all the spices, herbs, and magical ingredients you associate with your intention. This is a highly creative part of magic, and the only rule here is to make sure everything you pick is safe to use for the purpose of your potion.

One of the pitfalls of using lists of associations is that they are extremely generalized while the plants and tools we’re working with are not. Every plant and every crystal has its own “personality” on an energetic level. While ginger may commonly be used to banish illness, the specific ginger root you’re using might be far better suited to bringing fire and passion to a relationship. Rose quartz may be most often used for love but the specific stone you have may be more attuned to aiding an ailing liver. For beginners, a list of properties can be useful but as you begin to deepen your practice you should start learning to recognize and work with the energies that are actually present in your ingredients and tools. This takes practice and often a lot of trial and error but it’s worth it for the depth it can add to your witchcraft.

Bodily Fluids

If you’re squeamish about body fluid talk, feel free to skip this section. For those of you who are game, let’s dive in! 

Historically, bodily fluids were often used in potion-making because they were thought to hold powerful energies. Some witches still use bodily fluids in their potions and witchcraft. If you choose to explore this in your personal practice, do so cautiously and at your own risk. Do not EVER add fluids to a potion that you’re giving to someone without their knowledge. This is called assault with bodily fluid and it is illegal. None of these substances are required to make a powerful potion. They are presented in this course for historical and educational purposes only. 

Here’s a list of some of the bodily fluids that were used to make potions:

Saliva - used for controlling, protecting, and repelling unwanted energies

Blood - a powerful substance used for a multitude of purposes. Those interested in blood magic should take special care to learn the proper methods involved in this form of magic! It is not a subject to dabble in and engage in experimentation without guidance.

Sweat - used for love and sex magic

Urine - used for cursing, warding, or to claim something as your own

Sexual Fluids - Used for binding people together, usually in love and fidelity magic. Commonly burnt to ash before being added to potions in modern use for safety.