Favorite “Potions & Lotions” Education
Funnily enough, I don’t do that much with the potions and lotions…at least at this stage in my life. I have a good handful of tea blends, incense recipes and a few oils and balms that have been passed down through the ages, but I don’t experiment much in that realm myself. When I do, however, I tend to refer to these places:
- Humblebee & Me: Marie Rayma is the cosmetics and skin care guru I never knew I needed. Her formulations are fantastic and easily tweakable for magical applications. I have learned so much about soap and lotions and cosmetics from her site, and her book, Make It Up: The Essential Guide to DIY Makeup and Skin Care, is gold. If I do get the itch to make up a potion, she’s my first stop.
- Modern Cosmetics: This is a textbook on cosmetics, and it is brilliant. It’s expensive at 120 euros or about 140 dollars, but if you need to easily find clear, reliable, scientific information about natural skin care ingredients, this book is about as close to a one stop shop as it gets. This book is volume one, and was published in English in November 2018. Future volumes are in the works.
- Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes: This book was a staple of my grad school co-op, and I learned quite a bit from it. I still think it’s a pretty solid place to go when you want useful ideas of how to actually use herbs and the like. There’s an herbal tea blend called “nerve formula for depression” that I regularly use to this day. Also, there’s a pretty nice recipe for nettle spanakopita that I used to make all the time when I lived in the Pacific Northwest and the nettles were coming out.
Favorite General Supply Sources
These are the places I tend to go for most things like containers, oils, herbs, incense, stones, and beads…all of which I use quite a bit in my Craft.
- Specialty Bottle: It is a little disturbing just how many jars, bottles, boxes, tins, and vials we witches go through. Specialty Bottle is my preferred supplier. I’m particularly fond of their glass vials for my essential oil blends and dilutions. Their mason jars are also a great choice for people who don’t care for the Ball or Kerr logos embedded into the glass of their jars. Their Spanish recycled glass jars are my hands-down favorite for making container candles (both beeswax and soywax…I buy corks elsewhere to use as lids). I do use a lot of their tins for various body lotions and for random storage. One of their tea tins makes an awesome container for chime candles.
- Med Lab Supply: This is a bit weird, but I buy 100 ml open serum vials from this company and turn them into match containers for strike anywhere matches. I keep a match bottle on my altar as well as in several different areas of my home. I frequently give them as gifts to pagan friends and they’re always incredibly well received. Med Lab Supply does have a ton of different sizes of vials and stoppers, and I can see how these could be nicely evocative for various potions and spell work. So long as you don’t buy sterilized ones, they’re dirt cheap, too.
- Alchemy Works Seeds and Herbs: Based out of Rhode Island, Alchemy Works is the business of Harold Roth, author of The Witching Herbs: 13 Essential Plants and Herbs for your Magical Garden. Its a wonderful place to order oils, resins, incense, essential oils, herbs, and seeds to grow your own herbs…which is an option quite lacking in the pagan world. Need to grow your own mandrake and belladonna? Alchemy Works has you covered.
- Herb Shop: Located in Grants Pass, Oregon, The Herb Shop is primarily a brick-and-mortar store, though they will ship just about anything they sell anywhere in America. They’d probably ship abroad, too. I have always found everyone in the shop to be incredibly kind and knowledgeable people, and I still turn to them as my first choice for essential oils. It is rare to find an oil vendor who has as large a supply as they do, and they even carry rare oils like gardenia. Better yet, they don’t drastically mark up their products.
- Eden Botanicals: I have some die-hard loyalty to The Herb Shop, but when they don’t have an essential oil or some other plant product that I’m looking for, I know Eden Botanicals will. Eden must have one of the largest catalogs in the industry, and they’ve got a fabulous website. I frequently refer to it to find things such as what part of the plant is used for the oil, what sort of note(s) the oil has, aroma descriptions, blending suggestions, scents the oil blends well with, safety considerations, and contraindications for use. Another plus for Eden is that they also offer samples for just a few dollars. Sometimes these samples are 20-30 drops, but sometimes they’re just 6 or so for a rarer oil. With exceptions for some of the ultra rare things like agarwood, most of the sample prices are $2-3, so if you just need a trace for your magical work and know you’re not likely to use that item again in the future, that sample can come in handy.
- Mountain Rose Herbs: Located in Eugene, Oregon, Mountain Rose has some of the highest quality herbs around at some of the most reasonable rates in the business.
- Soma Luna: Soma Luna is a general online occult store, but they are much better than most in terms of their botanical and incense options. I tend to check them out when I want or need an herb not found in mainstream options.
- Magus Books and Herbs: Magus is a brick-and-mortar occult store in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I always make a stop here whenever I visit my best friend (who will likely never leave this snowbound city). Magus is a brilliant store run by folk who actually know their stuff. Liz Johnson, one of the proprietors, is also a well-trained herbalist who I trust implicitly. It is in large part because of her that Magus is my go-to for most herbal needs. They have things that cannot be found anywhere else.
- Mermade Magical Arts: I tend to go to Mermade when I want high-quality frankincense, hypnotic blends, or hard-to-find accessories. I got my incense tripod here, and I’ve never been able to find that anywhere else.
- Oland Botanicals: I’m proud to call Donna Oland family, and her incense blends are lovely. Her “essence of the full moon” blend is my general go-to for esbats.
- Rosarium Blends: I cannot get over how much I love Rosarium, which is based out of Washington state. Catamara Rosarium is the master herbalist behind all the incense, oils, inks, and perfumes, and she approaches her creations like alchemy. She even distills some of her own essential oils. I utterly adore these creations.
- Bliss Crystals: I’m not going to lie…I don’t really buy crystals online. I’m one of those people who has to handle something and get a sense that it wants to come home with me. That being said, there are some things that local places don’t tend to carry. Bliss has never let me down. They have a physical showroom in Temecula, California, and a healthy presence on Etsy.
- Fire Mountain Gems and Beads: Based out of Grants Pass, Oregon, Fire Mountain has a huge supply. I pretty much get all my semi-precious gemstone beads from them, as well as my silk beading thread.
- Shipwreck Beads: I used to work right across the street from them in Lacey, Washington and spent many happy hours browsing their prodigious aisles on my lunch break. Their cafe also introduced me to my favorite sandwich (torta bread, turkey, cream cheese, cranberry sauce, and alfalfa sprouts). Fire Mountain has a larger gemstone beads selection, so I go there first…but if they don’t have what I want, I go to Shipwreck.
Favorite Candle Making Sources
I excluded candles from the supplies above, because I make my own candles. If I didn’t, however, I would recommend Big Dipper Waxworks out of Seattle or Bluecorn Beeswax in Colorado. If you want to support handmade, small scale candle makers, it’s hard to do better than Aurum Naturals in Michigan (bonus! Aurum Naturals makes beeswax chime candles!).
If you look at some of their prices, though, you will see that buying enough candles for a year’s worth of workings can get a pricey. One year I decided to sink my annual candle budget into supplies rather than the candles themselves. That worked out exceedingly well and now I’m something of a pro. These are some of the suppliers I have purchased from and enjoy.
- Basic Honey: Most of the candles I make are beeswax, and beeswax can be really expensive. Worse still, most beeswax that you find for under $12 a pound have been blended with other things (hint…stay away from pretty much all the beeswax you find on Amazon). Basic Honey, however, is run by fourth generation beekeepers who keep their operation running all year long by traveling between South Dakota and Florida, and their products are straight from the hive. Their beeswax is glorious and fragrant and only costs between $7.30 and $10 a pound, depending on the quantity you buy. Better yet? Free shipping. You can buy direct from their website, or through their Etsy shop.
- Mighty Molds: They sell just one thing: platinum-cured silicone molds. And they do that very, very well. Right now, their focus is primarily on soap molds, but they do have a 6-inch ‘household’ taper mold for candles that I reviewed and loved. If it was just the diameter of a standard taper, this mold would be utterly perfect. The six inch size is great for spellwork and “task illumination”. I would, however, love a mold at least 8 inches long for an “all purpose”, and maybe a 10-12 inch mold for “dinner tapers”. A girl can dream, though. When they expand their mold lines, I am going to go crazy buying them up.
- Mann Lake: They are primarily a company for beekeepers, but they do have a nice section for beeswax candle making. Their molds are quality platinum-cured silicone molds that last practically forever, but — to be honest — the only shapes I’ve really loved have been their 7.5 inch spiral taper and their small spirals. The large spirals make impressive gifts, and the small ones are about the size of chime candles and work wonderfully for quick spell work. Alas, most of Mann Lake’s ‘fancy’ shapes would make for candles that would waste a lot of wax, and their standard taper (in 6, 8, and 10 inch sizes) is pretty, but it is too dramatically tapered to make for a good burn (the top will burn so fast it will have a dancing flame and smoke a lot, and the bottom will have a small flame that won’t cast much light). I do like the mold release they carry as well as their wicking needle, and their wicks are great, but they only carry 2/0, 4/0 and 60 ply sizes. I like their color dye chips, but they definitely need to be stored in separate glass jars as the dye will bleed through the plastic packaging they come in.
- Betterbee: Like Mann Lake, Betterbee is primarily a beekeeping company, but they do have a pretty great candle section. They do have a curled candle mold I might like better than Mann Lake’s, and I’ve been eying this pillar mold for awhile. Like Mann Lake, they have a limited wicking supply, but they do carry a wicking needle. They’re also one of the only places I can find 100% bayberry wax, which is wonderful blended with beeswax for prosperity candles. They do sell a standard taper mold that looks excellent, but is very expensive at $30 per mold. They also sell a taper mold holder, which is needed as (unless you get a chunky Mann Lake mold), they are too skinny to stay straight and upright safely.
- Candlewic: I don’t know why, but they’re not my favorite supplier. Everything I’ve ever ordered from them, I’ve been able to find better quality elsewhere. I do, however, like their liquid candle dyes, and they do have one of the largest sizing assortments for square braided cotton wicks for beeswax candles. They also have a “standard taper mold” in 6, 8, 10, and 12 inches that is about as ideal of a taper shape as I can find. It is also almost half the price of other taper molds at about $16 per mold. The finished product looks a bit like a hand-dipped taper, and has similar performance. Unfortunately, it is a polyurethane rather than a silicone mold, and the molds are sloppily made. Of the six 8-inch molds of theirs I currently have, only one doesn’t have any obvious flaws. They also cast these molds in very skinny cylinders, which means they bend and tip over really easily. Heck, some of my brand new molds arrived already permanently bent. For some reason, they don’t carry the mold holder you’d need to make these molds operate safely.
- Lone Star Candle Supply: If I want to make a scented candle, I make it out of soy, and I make it in a container. Most of my supplies for these come from Lone Star. They are a fantastic resource for all manner of soy wax, soy-compatible wicks, and fragrance oils, and candle making accessories. To be honest, most of my fragrance oils for scented container candles come from them. They have a lot of ‘dupes’ of very popular scents (perfumes, Bath and Bodyworks, Victoria’s Secret, etc.) Their Vanilla Satin fragrance oil is my hands down favorite vanilla. I tend to just buy everything for soy container candles from them.
- CandleScience: One of the best resources around for soy wax, soy-compatible wicks, and fragrance oils. If I didn’t get something for scented soy container candles from Lone Star, it came from CandleScience.
- E-Z Wick Setter: I do struggle to center wicks in the middle of jars, and when I have to do two or three, it’s even harder. This tool does that work for me. There’s a single-setter and a multi-setter. The multi can be used to center one wick, but its container opening range is just 2.75″ to 3.75″. The single setter can fit narrower containers as its opening range is 1.75″ to 3.25″. If the tool doesn’t fit the container you use, If your EZ Wick Setter doesn’t fit your container, I know Bitter Creek Candle Supply will modify it for $15.95, which includes the return shipping.
Favorite Ritual Tool Artisans and Suppliers
- Omega Artworks: I’m pretty sure they’re the premier occult bladesmith in America, if not the world. I know a couple people who have chosen their Acorn Knife as their athame, and it is utterly drool-worthy. Several people have asked me if I covet their Bee Knife. Funnily enough, no…but I am saving up to get their Solomonic Sword for when I someday have a coven of my own. Have you seen the version with the bog oak handle and the oak leaf pommel? Swoon.
- Poshland Knives: My current athame is a Poshland number. I adore it, even if everyone teases me for having a ‘mini-sword’ in circle. (I may have mistaken the blade length of 10 inches to be the overall length…which is 15 inches.) Poshland can customize any of their blades for a pretty low fee, or they can work with you to custom make a whole new knife for a moderate fee. They do work with smiths in Pakistan to create the knives, which accounts for the comparatively low cost. The work is pretty great, though, and by all accounts Poshland treats their smiths very well.
- Rare Earth Woodworks: Run by Karl and Sarah out of Shelton, Washington, Rare Earth Woodworks is incredibly pagan friendly. Better yet, they can supply just about anything you want made out of wood. They make gorgeous wands out of an array of woods that would make Ollivander’s in Harry Potter green with envy. They also make great spirit boards and other divinatory tools. They use the wood shavings to make fantastic and exotic incense. My favorite of all their offering is their wooden journal covers. They are to die for. All of my Books of Shadows are now housed within one of Karl’s covers. Rare Earth is also really open to custom commissions at reasonable rates. They also have a direct website under a slightly different name: Rare Earth Designs.
- Gaean Allusions: Karen and Godfrey Betts have been throwing pottery in Chehalis, Washington for more years than I’ve been alive. Recently, daughter Freya has joined their business. To be honest, Karen and Godfrey have been such a staple of the West Coast festival scene, I’d be surprised if there were too many pagans out there that didn’t own at least one of their pieces. Though they tend to stick mostly to the Pacific Northwest, I know they’ve been going to Pantheacon practically every year that Con has been in existence! A couple years ago, they opened up an Etsy store. The Etsy offerings are only a tiny percentage of what Gaean Allusions can do, as they do make most of their money on the local festival circuit and target their efforts there. However, they are brilliant about custom commissions: nearly anything you can dream up, they can provide. They are responsible for my altar’s primary candleholder as well as my pentacle, and in my kitchen, I have two of their bowls, a pie dish, and a coffee mug. Clearly, I depend on Gaean Allusions! I love following their Facebook page, which gives a better representation than Etsy of what they can do. They also have a dedicated website.
- AntB: Antonia Barry out of Bellevue, Ohio is another pagan-friendly ceramicist that I follow and patronize. I love how organic and fluid her hand-thrown pieces are. I have a little candle hearth from her that I adore, and an athame that I used for years was made by one of her sons. She also runs a second Etsy store under Second Chance Ceramics, where she takes thrifted and recycled commercial pottery and embellishes them with iron oxide transfers. I have been lusting over one of her mugs with the Firefly quote “Curse your sudden and inevitable betrayal” for years.
- Broomchick at Scheumack Broom Company: Samantha Pritchard in Eugene, Oregon makes beautiful brooms by hand in all sorts of varieties. I have a regular kitchen-style broom of hers that I use as my besom, but she also has a round “ceremonial style” that most witches drool over. And her cobweb broom is single-handedly responsible for the reduction of arachnids in my life. You could order through her website, but I like the ease of Etsy better.
- Broomcorn Johnny’s: I first came across Broomcorn Johnny’s when they had a workshop and store in Nashville, Indiana waaay back in the day. I loved watching them construct the brooms and I always made my parents stop off there whenever we went to Nashville. They make their brooms using equipment made in the 1800s! It is an utterly fascinating process. Broomcorn Johnny’s has moved around an awful lot since then, and now they’re based out of Vermont. They do have a dedicated website in addition to an Etsy page and can accommodate custom requests. And I can attest to their quality! When I accidentally snapped the handle of my HPS and HP’s broom, I replaced it with one from Broomcorn Johnny’s, and it is wonderful.
- WIAN Studios: I may be in a minority here, but I’m not sure I’d let someone wail on me with a homemade ritual scourge. Now, I do love the scourge I made for myself, and it certainly serves the purpose for what we primarily use the scourge for–a pre-ritual purification. But scourging can also be a brilliant energy-raiser…and for that application, I want a tool made by someone who really knows what they’re doing. WIAN has been recommended to me numerous times. They’ve been in business for 20 years and have quite the reputation. I’ve seen their work in person and am impressed. They do custom work, so if you’re after a particular look, I’m sure it can be achieved.
- Potjie Pot USA: You can get a tiny little cauldron at most metaphysical stores. These can be okay for burning incense, or you can melt some wax into the bottom of them and use it as a candle holder. But honestly? That’s about all they’re good for. You actually do need a large-ish pot for certain magical practices. A tripod Dutch oven will do the job…but a potjie pot looks so much more like a proper cauldron. They even have flat-bottomed ones if you really want to nail that “kitchen witch” aesthetic. Be warned…cast iron pots are heavy!
- Sekoya Originals: I feel a bit weird by listing the makers of my favorite candle holders…but every time I post a picture here or on my social media with them, I get loads of people asking where they can find them. These candle holders are hand forged of cast iron, so they are seriously heavy, but they taper up to a tiny point. The holders are also quite tall, so you don’t need a very long candle to get decent illumination. And when the lights are out, the candles almost look like they are floating, thanks to the dark iron and dramatic taper. On first glance, you might think that these candle holders would only work in contemporary decor, but they look great wherever you put them. I’m a big fan of the style that accommodates a standard 7/8-inch diameter taper, but I also adore the ones that take skinny 1/2-inch diameter tapers.
- Owlkeyme Arts: Laura Tempest Zakroff is astounding in so many ways. This particular site is the one dedicated to her artwork, which is inspired by her witchcraft. I utterly adore the temple prints I purchased from her Iconomage series, and they are images I interact with daily. They’re easily among the items I would rush into my burning house to save.
- Mandragora Magika: Si Mandragora is an absolute favorite of mine, and I wish his witchy art were more widely available. He does a ton of graphic design work for the pagan community, and you’ve probably seen his stuff without realizing it was his.
- Blagowood: Mihalyo Melnichuk (Михайло Мельничук) out of Bohuslav, Ukraine is a wood-carving wizard. This particular Etsy shop of his is pretty much dedicated to his carvings of various deities in the Norse, Celtic, Greek and Egyptian pantheons. They are gorgeous, and Melnichuk is so skilled that he can produce nearly identical pieces. I have no idea how he does it. When I first ordered from him, these deity representations were about $50 each and had about a 2-week delivery estimation. These days, they are $75 and he can barely keep up with demand. Some people I know have waited for 3 months. They are worth the wait, though, and I believe that Melnichuk is also open to custom orders.
- Carrie Wild: I sincerely doubt Wild is a pagan, but weirdly enough, a lot of her images are ones that I use to “low key” tap into aspects of my practice. She depicts a lot of animals in her work, and I’ve used images of rabbits, owls, dragonflies, bees, and swans that she has done to help connect with the influences of my magical lineage.