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The Magic of Vinegar

magic of vinegar

Who would guess that such a common kitchen ingredient would have such potent magical properties? Although it can’t beat bleach as a disinfectant, its cleansing properties are believed to carry over into the magical world. A 1:1 mix of distilled white vinegar and water not only cleans windows and mirrors, it also prevents nasty spirits from penetrating them.

Four Thieves Tonic

Perhaps one of the most famous vinegar concoctions is Four Thieves. This mix of vinegar, garlic, and spices was believed to protect against the plague. Today, it’s a staple in modern witchery, though there are multiple recipes with multiple uses.

I liked the idea of doing daily Four Thieves shots, so I tried a tonic recipe from New Orleans. Unfortunately, it called for cayenne peppers, which aren’t common to California, so I was forced to use ancho chiles instead.

Note: Whatever you end up storing this in, plastic lids work better, because the vinegar tends to “eat through” metal and unpleasantly flavor the tonic. If all you’ve got is metal, put natural parchment paper between the lid and the liquid.

  • Pint jar
  • 2 C Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (you’ll be drinking this, so splurge on the good stuff)
  • 4 Fresh, peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 T Rue
  • 2 T Black peppercorns
  • 1 Ancho Chili (the # of chiles will depend on the size of your chili and how much heat you like)

Using whatever protective incantations floats your boat, put the herbs, chili(s) and garlic in a sterile jar. If you really want to go old-school, prepare it on a Sunday. Cover with the vinegar. Store it in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks, shaking daily. After six weeks, strain everything out using a cheesecloth or coffee filter and decant into a bottle. If stored in a cool, dark place, this should keep up to 18 months.

Personally, I prefer brewing it up in a 1.5 Litre Le Parfait jar. It’s all glass, so no worries about metal lids. And it holds six cups, so I can brew a good-sized bottle of the stuff. I just triple the above recipe.

Use a teaspoon (or shot glass) a day as a tonic, for an overall pick-me-up, to restore drained energy, and/or for protection from magical attack. If you can’t take it straight, feel free to dilute with honey — preferably local. Recent studies have pointed to apple cider vinegar as a way for diabetics to control blood sugar.

Four Thieves for External Use

Apple cider vinegar makes a terrific mosquito repellent, so I figured it would be worthwhile to look at a non-edible version of Four Thieves.  Use it as an insect repellent, hair rinse, treatment for insect bites. From a magical perspective, it can be used as a wash with black salt to cleanse negativity), in banishing spells, and in spells for protection. Four thieves is a staple ingredient in many hoodoo spells.

  • Pint jar
  • 2 T Lavender
  • 2 T Rue
  • 2 T of Rosemary
  • 2 T Sage
  • 2 T Peppermint
  • 2 T Wormwood
  • 2 C room-temp apple cider vinegar

Chop the herbs (not too fine, because you’ll have to drain them eventually). Stuff them in your pint jar, leaving a little space at the top. Fill the jar to the top with the apple cider vinegar. Set it in a cool, dark place and let it sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking daily. Then strain out the herbs and recant into spray bottles (or wherever).


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