As you may have guessed from previous posts, I am in a
metric fuckton fair number of witchcraft-related Facebook groups. Most of them are fun and informative, but I always brace myself right around the Full Moon, because somebody inevitably asks, “Who’s making MOON WATER tonight???” and then everyone loses their damn minds.
I had honestly never heard of moon water until about a year ago, but oh, ye Gods, people stress out about it. How long does moon water stay fresh? Can I put crystals in my moon water? Why does my moon water taste almost exactly but not quite like regular water? I tried to make moon water, but it was overcast last night; have I brought a curse down upon myself? I live in Saskatchewan and it’s the middle of winter and my moon water froze; what does this mean?!?
On a surface level, I understand the allure of “making” moon water: It’s an easy thing to do, and it feels witchy to talk about. But, as I’ve said before, Witchcraft is a craft above anything else, and if we want to see practical results from our work, we need to a) understand why we’re doing whatever it is we’re doing; and b) put some actual effort into it.
Technically, All Water is Moon Water
The gravitational pull of the Moon controls the tides, and since our bodies are around 60% water, the Moon can have a profound effect on our mood, mental health and temperament. There is definitely power in that, and it’s a power worth utilizing in magic.
The following is not the Wisdom of the Ancients or anything — it’s just what I learned from practicing Witches when I was a newbie myself. But what I was taught was this:
On the night of the Full Moon, take a bowl of water outside and try to capture the reflection of the Moon in it (which is tricky but doable). Once accomplished, use the water to scry, or to commune with the Moon Goddess. Or, you can take it to your ritual space, consecrate it with a pinch of sea salt, and use it during an Esbat. Astrologically, the Moon stays full for three days — that is, if the Full Moon falls on a Saturday, you can still do Full Moon work on Friday or Sunday — so that gives us some extra breathing room to pull this off.
Now, there will be nights when the Full Moon is just not visible (overcast skies, inclement weather, volcanic ash clouds, etc.), but fortunately, there’s a nifty workaround. Before going outside, drop a dime in your bowl of water. Silver coins have a storied history of magical use in connection with the Moon, so even if you can’t catch the Moon’s direct reflection, the coin in the filtered moonlight will create a sympathetic effect. Then just head on and use the water as you normally would.
The keyword here, of course, is use. If we’re going to take the time to make something magical, we should do magical stuff with it. And there’s actually another form of lunar water that has several good uses, both magical and mundane, so let’s look at that next.
Do What Thou Willow
The willow tree has long been associated with both water and the Moon. It’s a quick-rooting plant that thrives along the banks of bodies of water: According to the good people at the Lucky Mojo Curio Co., “Because the tree grows near water and has sickle-shaped leaves, witches bathe with willow water and set it out in crystal bowls in honor of Selene, the ancient Goddess of the Watery Moon.” Additionally, willow is rich in a chemical called salicin, a natural anti-inflammatory and fever-reducer which has been used in medicine for legitimately a couple of thousand years.
If you want to buckle down and make a moon-oriented libation, willow water is an excellent way to go.
First off, you’ll need some willow twigs, which are easy to find online if you don’t have any trees growing nearby. (Dried twigs will actually work better, since the salicin will be more concentrated.) Pour eight to 12 ounces of boiling water over two tablespoons of willow twigs, then let it steep until you’ve got a light amber color. Strain the twigs out, let it cool, and bam! You’ve made willow water! I am proud of you.
Willow water can be sipped as a headache remedy (although it’s got a bitter taste, so best not to chug — at least maybe add some honey), or it can be used in a relaxing and/or ritual bath, as mentioned above. Or, as also mentioned above, it can be poured as an offering to the Moon — a lot of gardeners swear that soaking a new plant’s roots in willow water before potting will help it flourish, so we can symbolically capitalize on this by pouring our willow water at the base of a tree (oaks are sacred to Diana, so that would be a good choice), or using it to nourish anything we plant on the Full Moon (either physically or metaphysically).
You can also make a willow tincture by packing an airtight container about two-thirds full with willow twigs, topping it off with vodka or apple cider vinegar, sealing it up, and storing in a dark place for a couple of months, occasionally shaking it. (I’d vote for starting this project on the Full Moon, then decanting it after two lunar cycles have passed.) Strain out the twigs, and store the resulting liquid in a dropper bottle — you can add a few drops to a cup of water to get the same benefits as willow water, plus it’ll keep for at least three years.
Chaos Magic Willow Water Hack, Because You’re Welcome
Let’s say you’re on your way to a semi-public Full Moon ritual. You can’t wait to get there and show off the big batch of homemade willow water you promised to bring… which, you realize as you pull into the High Priestess’s subdivision, is sitting on your kitchen counter, an hour away from where you are.
No worries, young witchling! Turn around, find a convenience store, and get a bottle of water and some plain Bayer aspirin.
I am 100% not joking. Hear me out on this.
The active ingredient in aspirin is salicylic acid, which is a synthetic derivative of the salicin found in willow. Dissolve an aspirin in a cup of water, and you have kit-bashed willow water ready to go. The salicylic acid is just as beneficial to root systems as willow water is, so you can still pour it as an offering. Plus, from a symbolic perspective, what is a round, white, willowy pill if not a tiny moon?
So, there you have it, folx: a couple of solid alternatives to the ol’ jar of moon water on the windowsill. It may take some patience and a little exertion, but the satisfaction that comes from being able to say, “I legitimately made this” is worth it.
And really, as Witches, we can’t be afraid of putting that extra effort into our craft. So let’s get to crafting. And let’s definitely not be afraid of getting our hands wet.