Every potions master begins somewhere—I started just jumping in. Early successes led me along my own path of experimentation. Knowing that with enough trial and error I could make liquid magic kept me passionate along the way. From humble beginnings of messes, spills and burns, now I can spend an afternoon designing a recipe, try it, adjust and have something ready to use for my magical needs–be it protection, romance, strength, enjoyment, frenzy or power.
Getting started with alchemy intimidated me. There was thousands of dollars of equipment, dozens of charts for timing and proper preparations. It just did not seem possible to make a potion without everything just right. None of my friends were potion makers and I had no idea how to begin. Alchemy is about the pursuit of perfection, but the first step towards perfection is practice! I finally realized I would never have a potion if I let fear of messing up keep me from trying. When I let go of perfection as a goal and put pursuit as the goal instead I started making progress.
Magic Making Mistakes
My first potions were mixes of coffee grounds, wine, dyes, spices and resins. I had no idea what I was doing other than some questionable recipes I printed off the internet. My basement lab was littered with mason jars of failed mixes, bottles, stained coffee filters, and funnels. But when I was done, I had magical inks and I could write my recipes with a quill on parchment with a potion I had made. Now if only I had made a cleaning potion while I was at it!
Practice Makes Progress
Once my first attempts at magic inks were used up, I knew what wasn’t working: the liquid was too thin and didn’t dry fast enough so it bled and smeared. So I researched how to thicken it and learned about using cornstarch or Gum Arabic. I bought a little bottle of Gum Arabic at the store and it just globbed up in the mix and I had to filter it out! So I had to keep looking. Eventually I learned to grind my own Gum Arabic and figured out what solvents to dissolve it with. Before I knew it I had an ink recipe that people wanted to buy and buy again.
Is A Recipe Ever Finished?
Even if you finally find the perfect mix of ingredients, magical charms and the right kind of jar or bottle for your potion (yes I even had trouble with jars!) an ingredient in your recipe may become rare or unavailable. I use less of certain resins now because they are threatened or endangered and I supplemented with roots or saps I can grow or source locally.
Customizing to “Perfection”
Potion recipes will never be set in stone because your life will always call for new magical means and goals. If I am working with salal/pokeberry because it grows in a waste space by my work, making an ink from it will vary from an ink I make from oak gall, lampblack or dragon blood. If I need a romance ink for a love letter, the addition of rosewater could thin the mix and make it take longer to dry if I don’t adjust with a stronger alcohol and more plant dye material. Be sure to be flexible in your recipes so that they serve your current needs.
Trying Gives ExperienceIf I had never tried to make a potion from coffee grounds and wine, I wouldn’t know today about solvents, resins, jars and bottles, mordents, dye plants and I would not have my own inkspell system of magic. If you jump in now on something you want to learn, be it potion making or another type of magic you will be leagues further than if you never tried.
Use my recipe card below for making your own magical ink at home with household ingredients from the grocery store. The way I learned, Bat’s Blood Ink is blue. “Blood” inks usually have dragon’s blood resin, but it is over harvested and threatened, so I save it for the retd ink of its namesake.
As Bat’s Blood Ink is used for protective magic, I select ingredients based upon: the blue being traditional to repel the evil eye, iron being martial, and wine being the blood of the land in a sense. In hoodoo tradition, blue for waters and baths is obtained with laundry bluing which is colloidal iron so I adapted it to the ink. Cornstarch is a thickener that most people have in their house.
Check out my Patreon Potions Maker class to learn more about potions like magical honey meads and mystical wines.
To read more excerpts of my upcoming book, Traditional Witchcraft From Scratch, check out my Patreon.