Extracting Sal Salis
The first stage in creating a planetary tincture is to extract some water-soluble salts from plant matter. Sal Salis means "salt of the salt" and is prepared from wood ashes. Hardwood is best because it contains less tar and resin. Ash (fraxinus) and lime (tilia) trees have the advantage of being ready to burn when freshly cut. Another consideration may be the planetary rulership of the source tree. (Trees and their planetary associations will be listed at the end)
1) Lay a fire using untreated hardwood. The most efficient way to do this is in an open fireplace using a grate, but an outside fire ritual in a sacred spot during one of the solar or fire festivals such as winter solstice or Imbolc can produce a potent ash. Do not use paper because it usually contains undesirable materials. Use dry grass and twigs as kindling--never use prefabricated firelighters. It is best to carry out this procedure on a sunny day so that you can use the sun to ignite the fire. This is because the true nature of fire is to be found less in the fuel than in the agent of ignition. Fuel feeds a fire but is not its source.
2) Use a magnifying glass to focus the sun's rays onto the wick of a candle until it becomes a flame. If the sunlight is weak, dip some filter paper in ethanol. The paper will readily catch fire, and you can use it to light the candle. Use the candle to light the fire you have laid, taking care to drip as little wax into the fire as possible. A high grate will allow you to light the fire from underneath and avoid dripping wax.
3) Keep adding fuel to the fire until it has produced 2 gallons of ash (enough to fill a standard mop bucket). This may take a long time, but the longer you can stay with the fire, giving it your full attention, the better. Take the opportunity to unburden your soul of any combustible old matter. Allow the heat of the fire to melt any stones in your heart. Let the emotion flow out of you and vaporize in the flames.
4) Collect the ashes and grind any solid pieces to powder
5) Roast the ashes in a flameproof ceramic pot on top of a really hot stove until they have turned gray. This heating process is known as calcination.
6) Allow the ashes to cool, then put them in a large enamel pan and add several gallons of filtered rainwater or spring water. Unless you have a huge pan, you will have to do this in several batches.
7) Boil the liquid ashes for about 15 minutes, then filter (through an unbleached coffee filter or filter paper) into another large enamel pan. Return the remaining solid matter, known as caput mortuum (death head), to the earth.
8) Boil the filtered liquid, uncovered. As the liquid reduces, the salts will start to become visible. When nearly all the liquid has evaporated, the salts will start to sputter, so take care. Reduce the heat, and wearing gloves and goggles if necessary, stir the solidifying salts vigorously until they have hardened.
9) Break the salts into small pieces, drive off any remaining moisture in the oven, then calcine again over a high heat (covered) for at least an hour.
10) Dissolve the salts in filtered rainwater or spring water, filter, and evaporate again. Repeat this process until no residue is left in the filter. When finished, powder the pure, dry salts and place in an airtight jar. Keep a small amount in a separate container for making holy water.
Producing the Oleum Salis
The alkaline salts extracted from the ashes in the form of sal salis are strongly hygroscopic, which is to say that they readily absorb moisture from the air. The alchemist uses these as a magnet for attracting dew. Once saturated with dew, the salts dissolve and become liquid. The resulting oleum salis (oil of salt) provides the best solvent for extracting the planetary virtues from plants when creating planetary tinctures.
1) On a still, clear evening, ideally when the sun is in Aries or Taurus, spread your sal salis about 1/2 inch deep in glass, glazed earthenware, or enamel dishes. Place the dishes in the open air about 1 foot above the ground.
2) Retrieve the dishes before sunrise. If the salts have liquefied, filter and preserve the liquid in a sealed bottle. If the salts have not liquefied, repeat the process the following night and again, if necessary.
Creating the Tincture
The tincture should be extracted from a planet governed by the relevant planet. It should be slowly dried and then crushed into small pieces by hand. Start making the tincture on the first day associated with that planet that occurs after a new moon.
1) On the appropriate day, pour a seventh of your oleum salis into a glass jar. Add sufficient crushed herb to be well covered by the oil.
2) Place the glass jar in a warm, cark cupboard. A tincture made with alcohol or vinegar would take 2-3 weeks to produce, but the concentration of cosmic fire in the oleum salis is sufficiently potent to extract a red tincture within a day or two.
3) Filter the red oil, and add to it an equal amount of pure plant spirit (ethanol, not denatured alcohol). Immediately seal the jar. The red tincture and the alcohol do not mix; the alcohol will float on top.
4) Place the sealed jar in a warm, dark place, like a linen closet or an incubator. The spirit above (the alcohol) will gradually draw up the spiritual properties of the plant and the oil below. The residual impurities in the red tincture will collect at the level where teh two liquids meet. The spirit will absorb some of the color from below and the lower tincture will become paler. It takes 1-3 months for the process to be completed, depending on how warm it has been kept--approximately 3 months at 65F (18C) and 1 month at 90F (30C)
5) Pour off the alcohol and preserve it in a tightly sealed dark glass bottle. This is your planetary tincture. Take no more than 10 drops per day in a little wine or water, starting on the morning of the first planetary day during a waxing moon.
Plants and their planets:
Trees: willow, magnolia
Plants: chaste tree, cleaver, opium poppy, periwinkle, watercress
Trees: hazel, acacia, myrtle, mulberry
Plants: wormwood, digitalis, mandrake, valerian, skullcap, parsley, caraway
Trees: apple, pear, cherry, elder, linden, chestnut
Plants: yarrow, lady's mantle, motherwort, vervain
Sun Trees: walnut, ash, citrus, laurel, juniper Plants: chamomile, cinnamon, clove, eyebright, ginger
Trees: thorn, pine, savin, cyprus, rhododendron
Plants: hawthorn, nettle, sarsaparilla, vomic nut, basil
Trees: oak, ash, maple, horse chestnut, cedar
Plants: arnica, borage, lemon balm, sage, ginseng, comfrey, echinacea
Trees: beech, holly, poplar, Scotch pine, yew
Plants: equisetum, comfrey, heartsease, red root, uva ursa
Besides the planetary tinctures, which have an extraordinary effect on every aspect of the mage's constitution, specially charged potions and substances can be prepared for use in magical operations. All liquids and metals have particular magnetic qualities. They are able to absorb and store energies and energy patterns from any source. The mage uses these qualities to make fluid condensers.
Tincture of Gold
The most important ingredient in any fluid condenser is gold, which to the mage and alchemist is the most perfect substance that nature produces on earth. Gold can be added to a fluid condenser in any form, and even minute amounts are useful, particularly in liquid condensers.
1) Take a piece of gold, the purer the better, but even 9-carat gold will do. Heat it until it is red hot, then drop it into a bowl containing ten times its weight of filtered rainwater. The water will hiss and sputter furiously, so protect yourself from scalding
2) Retrieve the gold with a glass implement, such as a heatproof glass cup or ladle, and repeat the process at least another six times.
3) By this time, the water will have become saturated with gold atoms from the contracting metal. Filter the liquid into a glass bottle and preserve it for magical use. Seven or eight drops are sufficient to charge up to 3 oz (85 g) of fluid condenser.
Planetary Fluid Condensers
Planetary fluid condensers can be used for any magical operations, such as charging a talisman or amulet, where you wish to emphasize the qualities of a particular plant or their corresponding sephiroth on the tree of LIfe. You will need 2 oz (55g) of dried, powdered plant for each planet. If the plant matter can be collected and processed on its corresponding day of the week, so much the better.
1) Place the powdered plant in a tall glass jar and cover it with unadulterated grape brandy just before sunrise on the first appropriate day following a new moon.
2) Seal the jar and place it in a warm, dark location for 28 days
3) Filter the alcohol and pour it into a dark glass bottle, adding an appropriate amount of gold tincture.
4) If you have some salts derived from a plant connected with the relevant planet, then the addition of even a few grains will be even more empowering.
We all want to know that our magickal ingredients are fresh and properly labeled, right?
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