Plant Spirit Ally Challenge, Day 8: Make an Elixir or Potion
What a wonderful experience this challenge has been so far! I’ve connected with so many lovely people on social media, and I’ve learned so much through what they’ve shared. And we’re only through the first week. There’s a lot more magic to come.
Day 8 of the challenge is our first real dip into intentional magic-making, and the activity is to create an elixir or potion. I love making elixirs because, to me, they’re the perfect blend of magic and remedy. One of the many wonders of plants is how they can affect the self at every level: from the physical to the metaphysical. In other words, they act on the whole person in ways that things made in a lab just can’t.
I want to offer some tips today on creating your own magical elixir: but if you don’t like my method, please visit the Plant Spirit Ally Challenge Pinterest board, where you’ll find links to many more articles with recipes and instructions.
Step One: Let the Plant, and Your Instincts, Guide You
By now you’ve been working with your Plant Spirit Ally for a week, and you’ve probably learned a lot about how she affects you and what she’s capable of. Your instincts - and the plant - are probably telling you what kind of magical preparation she would like to make with you. Don’t worry about getting it wrong: as long as you don’t ingest something poisonous, whatever you do will be just fine.
So for example my ally during this challenge is lemon balm. She has shown me her cheerful serenity, and that’s the energy I’d like to capture with my elixir.
Step Two: Harvest Your Ally
If you’re harvesting a live plant, please refer to the articles linked on the Pinterest board or listed in the challenge guide about ethical harvesting and asking permission. If you’re purchasing herbs, do a little research to be sure you’re getting them from a reputable source. This article should help with that.
Step Three: Choose Ingredients
For an elixir or potion, you’ll need some kind of liquid to steep your plant ally in. If you want something long lasting, consider 80 proof or higher liquor or vinegar. If you want to make something to use quickly, you could choose anything you like, from water to juice to milk. For my own preparation with lemon balm, I’m going to use some lovely home-brewed plum brandy given to me by a friend. It feels especially fitting because my front yard has several lovely young plum trees, so I want to work more with plum energy in the future.
For elixirs I also add something sweet. Consider the purpose of your elixir or potion when selecting a sweet element. For example, many witches associate the maple tree with love, longevity, and money: so maple syrup would be a wonderful choice for potions to help you attract love, become healthy and strong, or attract more money into your life. Honey is, to a certain extent, an all-purpose magical substance. But you might want to choose local honey for it’s added connection to your home ground, or honey created from specific flowers which are associated with your magical purpose. You could add some kind of fruit syrup or concentrate. You even use simple syrup in a pinch. Don’t be afraid to get creative and let your imagination run with this part of the concoction. I’ll be going to the nearby farm stand to select a local honey today: I’m not sure yet what I’ll choose, but I’m excited to see what they have to offer.
Step Four: Choose Other Components
I like to add stones to the elixir making process. Some stones like quartz (all varieties) can be added to the steeping liquid, but be careful here: some stones contain toxic substances, and some will be damaged by exposure to water or solvents. Hag stones are a favorite addition as well (surprise!).
If you aren’t sure if it’s safe to put your stone in the liquid, you can still work with it. You can place pieces of it on the lid of your jar, or around the jar, while the potion or elixir steeps. You could also add a few drops of a stone or crystal essence you have one (this is something I haven’t yet worked with, but want to).
And stones aren’t the only possible additions to your potion. You could hang a charm or a meaningful symbol around the neck of the jar you steep your elixir in, or draw it on the jar or the lid. And what about a flower essence or a few drops of tincture? Or a flavoring extract for a more pleasant taste?
I intend to place citrine on and around my elixir jar, for it’s happy sunny energy. It seems like the perfect compliment to lemon balm.
Just don’t add essential oils: for the most part, they’re not for internal use. If you have an essential oil you desperately want to work with, anoint the outside of the jar with it.
Step Five: Assemble Your Elixir
There’s no one right way to do this. Basically what you’ll be doing is adding your plant material, plus other items, to a jar, closing it up, and letting it steep for some amount of time. All of these factors depend on which herb you use (and whether it’s fresh or dry), and on what ingredients you add to the jar. Fresh herbs in alcohol are usually steeped for several weeks. Dry herbs in boiling water are generally steeped for a maximum of 8 hours. A little research on google or in your herb books will help you determine how long to steep your concoction if you aren’t sure.
My own elixir with fresh lemon balm in plum brandy and local honey I intend to steep for at least six weeks.
Step Six: Decant Your Elixir (After the Correct Amount of Time)
When the elixir is finished, place a strainer over a bowl or large pyrex measuring cup and pour your elixir through the strainer. Retrieve any stones you added to the brew. Squeeze as much liquid as you can from the herbs. Then be sure to return the herbs to the earth with thanks, and maybe a special offering. Store your elixir in a tightly capped jar or bottle, and if there’s any danger it will spoil before you use it, keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. Most preparations in alcohol will be fine in a cupboard, but if you’re not sure take the extra cautious route.
Of course I’ve just covered the very basic aspects of elixir making here. I encourage you to do lots more research if you feel you need help, and don’t forget to reach out to fellow participants in the challenge via social media if you need inspiration or advice!
Happy Potion Making!