There is a somewhat commercial side to American folk magics, in the form of sales of oils, powders, candles, incenses and other “spiritual supplies”. These supplies are used in many different magical branches and sometimes in varying ways, but they are quite common and many people really adore working with them.

When it comes to obtaining these formulations, one has a few choices. You can buy from a reputable supplier, you can seek out someone who will teach you their formulations, or you can go about developing your own formulation. If you are an inexperienced practitioner, I think it is a good idea to purchase products from a few vendors to get an idea of what these items are, how they work (or don’t!) and the general theory behind them. Once you have a little work under your belt, it can be fun to work on your own formulations, if you have the time and desire to do so.

Over the years I have worked with other practitioners products and recipes, but I especially enjoy developing and crafting my own supplies, and so this is the process covered here. As an example, I will be using my own Study Buddy formulation, so yippie, you get a recipe as well!

Step One: Define the Target Energy

Most formulations fit into the following broad categories, with a bit of crossover here and there:

These broad categories can help to define large categories of ingredients and enchantments for the end products. Each category above will, of course include several types of energy, but I find it best to keep the broad categories to one or two to prevent ending up with a wishy washy formula. For Study Buddy, I wanted to address the following:

I find it helpful to list all of these aspects, as well as any particulars of delivery. Should the energy be quick and hot or slow and steady? Is this for a need or a want? Am I creating a formula for my own use or for others or both? All of these aspects can mean an adjustment ot the formula.

Step Two: Research!

After listing out the energies I will want to capture in my product, I start my research. I look for similar formulas advertised with an ingredient listed. (Most makers do NOT share their full ingredient list, but may comment on one or two specific ingredients, and that can be helpful in pointing your research the right way.) Formularies and reference manuals help to identify deities, planetary energies, timing, plant, mineral, color and other correspondences to the target energy.

My research sheet for Study Buddy formulations

It can be useful to know that lavender and peppermint are ruled by Mercury, which is associated with the transit of ideas (communication). This, of course, is what studying is meant to accomplish, so these are good possibilities, especially when one considers that the volatile constituents of lavender are known to promote relaxation (calm) and those of peppermint are known to promote alertness (concentration).

In some instances, you may also want to consider sympathetic properties. For instance, if you want to “heat it up”, you may want to add hot peppers, mustard seed, or cinnamon to your list of possible ingredients.

As I work, I make a list of any ingredient that seems like a reasonable match for each aspect of the target energy. I will not use all of these ingredients of course, but this list can be invaluable in the next few steps.

Step Three: Plan

Deciding what type of formulae to make is always situational. For some uses, I will craft an entire family of products. For others, I know I will only use one or two, so I focus on those. Here are some of the most common forms:

For Study Buddy, I decided three formulations were needed: oil, bath, and incense. The incense if for use while studying. The oil, while studying and for anointing on the day of testing, as well as to anoint any test papers if possible. And the bath for a spiritual cleansing on the day of testing. Since I often use Study Buddy when I have a tough work project, I will often use the bath on the day I present my work to my client.

It is important to consider the ingredients that will work best in each formulation. For instance some herbs may cause skin irritation in a bath, but a great bath herb like lavender flowers may burn as a smoky nothing in an incense. Some items, such as balm of gilead, that are great in incense are fire hazards in a candle. Dragon’s blood in an herbal powder is great, if you don’t plan to blow it on carpets, bed sheets…really anything that can get stained.

Consider a few more things before choosing an initial ingredient list:

Step Four: Experiment

Now we get to the fun part. Get a teeny tiny spoon, because this is where we make tiny little batches of our formula to test out proportions and make sure we have selected the best blend of our potential ingredients. For any essential oils, I group the caps of the oils I plan to use together and get a good whiff, to ensure I will like the outcome. I consider the “note” of each when planning out my oil proportions. For herbs, resins, woods and roots, I mix tiny pinches together, rub between my fingers to test dry scent and sensation, and toss on a hot coal for the incense scents. I make notes as I go. Once I have a good idea of what I’ll end up with, I plan my preparation.

Step Five: Prepare Formula(e)

Timing comes into play here. For Study Buddy, I wanted to make it on a Wednesday, the day associated with Mercury. I collected my ingredients and prepared a sacred space to work in. I do use an electric grinder for some of my powdering, but I finish up with some time in an old-fashioned mortar and pestle. This process is very meditative for me, and I will usually take a moment with each individual ingredient, then the building mixture, then the next ingredient, and so on. I endeavour to keep a mindset of success in the type of energy I wish to engage.

After mixing up my formulae and packaging them into working containers, I begin my charging. Some items need only a brief charging period, others I will work daily or weekly for a full moon cycle. This work includes stirring, shaking, or otherwise manipulating the product while chanting or praying over it. Sometimes I will create an altar space for it and burn candles with intent around the product. Of course it varies per formula, but this is something to consider in planning!

Step Six: Use and Record

The moment of truth! Use the products and record the experiences. Make notes of possible adjustments for your next batch. If you have magical friends who can help, gift them with a test batch and get their input. You will make adjustments to your formulas over time due to availability of ingredients, personal taste, specific need, etc. anyway, so be flexible!

Optional: Labeling

In some traditions, the label on the product is an essential part of the energy of the product. Some of my products have labels I’ve designed from clip-art, others I simply label with my label maker.

Bonus: Study Buddy Formulae

Study Buddy Oil:

Study Buddy Bath Salts:

Study Buddy Herbal Powder

Study Buddy Incense (Self-igniting loose)

Good luck and have fun making magical potions!

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