I love the alchemy of mixing ingredients together, to finish with something completely different, whether that be preparing meals, or making lotions and potions.
Salves are one of the simplest yet powerful ways of incorporating magic with healing, even if no herbs are added, the basic ingredients are soothing when massaged onto skin. Salves have been used for thousands of years, with evidence of them found in archaeological sites, as well as in documents, all over the world. Admittedly some of the items they used in salves back then might seem unsavoury to us now!
So, what is a salve? According to the dictionary –
Noun - a medicinal ointment for healing or relieving wounds and sores.
anything that soothes, mollifies, or relieves.
Verb - (used with object), salved, salv·ing.
to soothe with or as if with salve; assuage:
to salve one's conscience.
The basic ingredients are easy to find, being oil and beeswax. For vegan’s carnauba wax can be substituted. If made with clean equipment and put in sterilised containers, they can be stored in a cool, dark place for months, in some cases years (thinking of the ones found in the Egyptian tombs!).
Whilst melting the wax into the oil, you can infuse an intention as you stir, so transforming a mundane salve into a magically infused one, yes it can be that simple!
Obviously, you can add layers to your intention by adding corresponding herbs. As salves are used on skin, the plants that I think of are plantain, purple dead nettle, rose and herb Robert. Below are links to further information about these plants –
The method for making your salve –
If using herbs, they need to be picked, cleaned and dried. Using fresh herbs means the water content in them can reduce the storage time, as it will make the salve go rancid quicker.
Place a handful of the dried herb in a bowl or Bain Marie, cover with your chosen oil, place over a pan with simmering water and leave until they look depleted of energy, this can take up to 2 hours, as all their power in now in the oil. Strain out the plant matter, which can be disposed of or put in your compost bin if you have one.
Depending on how much herb infused oil you have made, some can be bottled for later use.
Salve Recipe –
Beeswax or carnauba wax - the general rule of thumb when making salves is to use one part beeswax to three to five parts oil.
Place together in a bowl over simmering water until the wax has melted, then pour into sterilised jars. Leave to cool, label, store and use as required.
When opening a new jar, smell to check the contents are still wholesome.
Sources/further reading –
A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Plants & Herbs by Rachel Patterson
A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Food by Rachel Patterson
The Secret Craft of the Wise – Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham