I‘m currently working on a witchcraft trilogy (tentatively named The Witches of Doyle). And since I’m all about the research, and Christmas is coming, I’ve been practicing my kitchen witchery, starting with a flying body butter.
If you’re unfamiliar with flying ointments or salves, they’re used to put witches into an altered state. Some of the herbs involved, e.g. belladonna, can be deadly. This overview by Sarah Jane Lawless explains flying ointments better than I can.
Also, she’s just awesome.
But here’s the rub: I’m not into mind-alteration through chemicals — natural or otherwise. So instead of a “real” flying ointment, I decided to create more of an homage using body butter. “Real” flying ointment is designed to be used sparsely – just a dab at the pulse points. Flying body butter is designed to be used like any body lotion – another good reason to ease up on any questionable herbs.
I started the process a month in advance, creating an herbal infused oil using some of the less toxic flying ointment herbs: mugwort, mullein, wormwood, and sage. I used olive oil as a base only because I have tons of the stuff. If I’d been thinking further ahead, I probably would have gone for a sweeter smelling oil, like almond.
Learn from my mistakes.
I suspect this will be a common theme to this blog.
Be sure to test any herbs you want to use to make sure you don’t have allergies or unusual sensitivities to them. (BTW, this is all for external use only).
A month later, on the night of a new moon, the oil was adequately infused. Onward to the body butter experiment!
There are lots of body butter recipes out there, and I chose one that used cocoa butter in the mix, because… Chocolate! I figured I couldn’t go wrong.
I went horribly wrong.
Raw cocoa butter has a very distinctive smell, and if you want to add essential oils such as lavender and bergamot to it, the result can be a major odor clash. The concoction smelled so awful, I had to toss most of it away.
But while the body butter may have stank to high heaven, it looked and felt terrific. Clearly, I was onto something. So I tried a new recipe, and here’s what I finally ended up with:
Whipped Flying Body Butter
1/2 C shea butter
1/4 C coconut oil
1/8 C infused oil (using herbs and oil of your choice, such as almond, grapeseed, or olive)
1/8 C “regular” grapeseed, almond, or olive oil
Essential oils of your choice (I used a 2:1 ratio of lavender and bergamot, which are airy and relaxing, plus a drop or two of mugwort essential oil).
Melt the shea butter, coconut oil, infused oil, and grapeseed oil over a double boiler, stirring constantly over medium heat. When it’s melted, transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge until it starts to solidify (about an hour).
Whip with an electric mixer, adding any essential oils, starting just a few drops at a time. Overdosing on essential oils can happen really fast, and there’s no going back once you’ve put too much in. I used lavender and bergamot in a 2:1 ratio, and added just a drop of mugwort essential oil.
Whip until stiff peaks form. (It should look like whipped cream). Transfer to your jars and stick it in the fridge a bit to solidify. The body butter will liquify if your home gets too hot — over 75 degrees F is the number I’ve heard — but it will solidify again (it just won’t look or feel whippy).
If you check Pinterest for body butter recipes, you’ll see photos of them in glass jars with cute little bows. I’ve learned the hard way that slippery hands and glass jars are not a good combo. So I’m sticking with the less attractive and safer plastic. Plastic may not look as charming, but it beats glass shards in your bath mat.
About the Author
Kirsten Weiss is the author of The Hoodoo Detective, book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels. The seventh and final book in the series, The Hermetic Detective, will be available on Halloween, 2015. Her first cozy mystery, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, is available for pre-order now.
And she finally got all the glass out of her bathmat.