Online Orders are Still Being Processed
Restorative Aromatics is located in Philadelphia, PA and the "stay at home" order went effect on March 23rd. We will still be processing and fulfilling online orders that come in until at which point it becomes no longer feasible. I've been working from home for the past three weeks, so while I am a little stir crazy, my contact with the outside world has been minimal and I am still in good health. All of my products are handcrafted by me, in my home studio, so they are not coming from warehouses or retail locations.
My local post office has package drop off slots right by the main entrance and I am leaving the house wearing nitrile gloves and face masks while sanitizing everything in the process in order to keep myself safe. It literally takes me 30 seconds to drop off packages and I do not have to wait in line or interact with anyone. Please note that delivery times may vary once they are mailed out as the postal service is also overwhelmed at this point. There may be some additional delays with shipments of my supplies arriving on time. I am trying to anticipate my needs weeks in advance in order to keep things in stock.
Restorative Aromatics will soon be rebranding to Belladonna's Botanicals in next couple of months and will be launching a new website. I'm working hard to getting the content on the new website up and running.
I am still releasing new products on a weekly basis as my new product to do list is always about 100 items deep at any given time. My assistants: Corey (pictured right) the manager of sitting on my printer and Moon (pictured left) the VP of crinkling plastic things are hard at work assisting me in this process.
Coming Soon: Online Zoom Classes & Workshops
I am in the process of working on putting together a series of workshops and classes via Zoom, stay tuned for topics, announcements and scheduling. All classes will have a sliding scale payment fee since we are all struggling during this difficult time in human history. I've also been taking the time to enjoy several courses myself and to finish a few courses I started last year as well.
Taking Care of Ourselves
Magic and ritual have the power to help us and to heal the universal despair we are feeling as we face isolation and the disruption of our daily lives. I'd be lying if I said that I was doing great every day, because some days I am not at all doing well and its okay to feel grief for all that we are going through.
Stay home, do magic, and be well.
Historically speaking, in the European Witchcraft tradition, flying ointments were made of hallucinogenic and often toxic herbs such as Belladonna, Aconite, Mandrake Root, Hemlock, Datura, Opium Poppy, and Henbane. These herbs were either infused in an oil base, strained, or added to lard. The witches then applied these ointments on their bodies for a hallucinogenic “flying” experience. The herbs used contain psychoactive chemical constituents including aconitum, atropine, hyoscyamine, or scopolamine. The lore around flying ointments also surround witches using them to fly to sabbaths, casting spells, shape-shifting, and for sexual pleasure.
Entheogens are psychoactive substances found in plants, animals, fungi, and chemicals. Entheogenic plants, fungi, and chemicals include: DMT, Fly Agaric Mushrooms, Ayahuasca, Cannabis, Henbane, Iboga, Datura, Psilocybin, and many other toxic plants. Typically, entheogens are used within the framework of spiritual development as they alter and expand the limits of consciousness and perception sometimes with hallucinogenic effects. Entheogens have been used by Indigenous people for thousands of years for spiritual purposes. Such as the case with Ayahuasca which is a botanical brew made with different entheogenic plants and is used by the Indigenous people of the Amazon region for spiritual purposes. It is important to note that the use of entheogens is sacred to many indigenous cultures and were a part of their spiritual practices. Using entheogens for spiritual exploration has become more mainstream since the 1950s with the use of LSD, psychoactive mushrooms, and other hallucinogenic substances. There are legal restrictions when it comes to entheogens such as the plants used in Ayahuasca, certain mushrooms, and of course drugs like LSD and ecstasy. However, other entheogenic plants are legal to grow, own, and use such as Belladonna, Datura, Henbane, and Mandrake Root.
The term entheogenic herbs is often used alongside ethnobotanical herbs and many of those listed above fall into both categories. Ethnobotany is just the scientific study of regional plants and their relationship and use by the inhabitants of the region for purposes of medicinal preparations, spiritual use, and culinary use. Many of our modern medicines are derived from plants. Atropine is inherent in Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) and is used during surgical procedures and is used as an antidote to certain types of poisoning. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) which is highly toxic to most people gives us the cardiac drug Digoxin that is used to treat atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
Flying Ointments have become popular as the return to witchcraft and pagan practices has grown in popularity in addition to the use of natural herbs, essential oils, and other plant-based materials, which have always been a staple in the witches practice. Flying ointments are typically categorized as “toxic” which contain ingredients like Belladonna, Mandrake Root, Datura, and Henbane and “non-toxic” ones which use Wormwood and Mugwort as their base herbs. It is important to note that the topical use of toxic herbs is much safer than ingesting them, which can often be fatal. Even though they are safer to use topically, the person preparing them, whether that be you as an individual or someone who makes and sells them needs to be keenly aware of using the correct amounts of the toxic herbs when they do the oil infusion as well as the genus and species they are using. There are several different types of Datura’s, but typically Datura innoxia is used in modern flying ointments though I have seen some Flower Essences that use Datura stramonium.
Botanical specification is extremely important to be aware of and I say that as an experienced aromatherapist and herbalist. Let’s talk about Mandrake Root, about 99% of the “Mandrake Root '' on the market is actually completely unrelated to Mandrake Root (Mandragora officinarum) which usually runs about $25.00 per ounce. The cheap American Mandrake Root (Podophyllum peltatum) does not have any of the entheogenic qualities of European Mandrake root is they are not even in the same botanical family or even genus. American Mandrake root aka Mayapple is much more toxic than European Mandrake Root. It can be used in witchcraft for protection spells, but it should not be used in flying ointments.
Flying ointments can be used in witchcraft practices for astral travel, lucid dreaming, spirit communication, divination, as aphrodisiacs, and for sex magick. They can also be used medicinally to treat chronic pain and inflammation, for mood elevation, and sleep issues. The Poison Path is an area of occult herbalism that focuses on using poisons as medicine and using entheogenic flying ointments for spiritual development. It combines different elements of witchcraft and spiritual practices into its own offshoot practice.
Astral travel, which is also called soul flight, astral projection, lucid dreaming, or out of the body experiences is the most common use for flying ointments. Astral travel is a form of deep meditation in which the brain waves slow down from the conscious waking state (Gamma and Beta waves) to the in between waking and sleep states (Alpha and Theta waves), which Delta waves are mostly associated with deep sleep. Here is a link to some more information on brain waves: https://brainworksneurotherapy.com/what-are-brainwaves There are numerous ways to invoke astral travel with or without flying ointments. I use guided astral travel induction meditations or astral travel music that keys into the lower brainwaves. You can find hundreds of videos on YouTube that vary in length from 30 minutes to 8 hours. Basically, you want to be in a half asleep state, but still have the mind active to explore your inner psyche or travel to astral realms.
Most of the herbs used in flying ointments are from the Solanaceae botanical family, more commonly known as the Nightshade family and the non-toxic varieties (Mugwort and Wormwood) are from the Asteraceae botanical family. Once you have made or purchased a flying ointment, there are specific actions of each herb, safety precautions, and effects. I will preface this by saying that I have not experienced hallucinations akin to those that would occur with LSD, mushrooms, or other hallucinogens. I’ve experienced minor shifts in perception. For example, Belladonna makes everything a little brighter and colors seem more intense and I just feel mellow and happy. I also love to write about my experiences and the things that come up for me when I use flying ointments.
How do you use a flying ointment? First, you will always want to perform a skin test if you have not previously used the particular ointment. This is done by using a pea sized amount of the ointment which you will rub onto the wrists. Usually, it takes about 30 minutes to start feeling the effects. At which point, you can reapply the ointment as comfortable. The effects can last between 4-6 hours. If any adverse reaction or skin irritation occurs, you should immediately wash the area with cold water and soap. Flying ointments are safe to use with alcohol, cannabis, and SSRI antidepressants, but they may increase drowsiness.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is a mild aphrodisiac, and is used for divination and prophecy. Medicinally, it can provide relief from pain and inflammation, elevate moods, and help with occasional sleep issues. Datura (Datura innoxia) is used for astral travel, spirit communication, and to induce psychic dreams. Medicinally, it has sedative properties, and can provide relief from pain and inflammation. Mandrake Root (Mandragora officinarum) is an aphrodisiac, and is also used for divination, protection, love magic, and is said to intensify magick, psychic abilities, and creative pursuits. Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) is used for astral travel and to communicate with the dead and other spirits. Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) and Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) are both non-toxic and used for lucid dreaming, working with familiars, and astral travel. Medicinally, they can relieve tense muscles, pain, and inflammation.Belladonna, Datura, Henbane, and Mandrake Root all have tropane alkaloids: atropine, hyoscyamine, or scopolamine. These are the chemicals that produce their psychoactive, sedative, and pain relieving effects.
General Safety Precautions for Nightshades including Belladonna, Datura, Mandrake Root, and Henbane
General Safety Precautions for Wormwood and Mugwort
References and Resources
I often joke that I've been a witch since Halloween 1980. My grandmother made the costume for me sans those horrible plastic masks they had back then. This may have been because I loved the Wizard of Oz and always loved the duality of Good Witch and Bad Witch, though secretly still want an army of flying monkeys to this day. I still have the gown, but sadly the hat and cape did not make it through the remainder of the 1980s due to excessive wear. I was a weird kid and interested in weird things. I wasn't the pink dress princess, my little pony loving girl of the 1980s. I wore mostly black because I grew out of children's clothing by the time I was 9 years old and I loved horror movies and heavy metal music. My Barbie Dolls looked like rock stars instead of fancy debutantes. I probably drove my parents crazy cutting up all the ball gowns and making rock star outfits for them.
I wanted to write a little more in depth about my path into eclectic witchery and my experiences in life from early childhood that led me down this path. I draw from many practices and traditions that are part of my old ancestral history: European and specifically Slavic Witchcraft and Folk Magic, in addition to White Magic, Black Magic, Hoodoo, and other Occult traditions.
My heritage is Eastern European, predominantly Ukrainian with roots Slovakia, Poland, Hungry, and Romania. There is also Germanic, Irish, English, and Northern European ancestry as well. I was mostly raised within the Ukrainian tradition and Byzantine Catholic until my family converted to Roman Catholicism. Eastern European families tend to be matriarchal by nature. My Grammy and Grandma were both strong women, who while not the "breadwinners" of the family, wore the proverbial "pants" for the family. I inherited a lot of their strength, wit, and dominant personality from them and my flare for fashion and wearing all black from my paternal grandmother.
My father gave me my first crystals when I was about 4 years old, a rose quartz and a donkey carved out of polished quartz. I still remember exactly how that rose quartz felt in my hands as a child and can visualize every mark and ripple of the stone. I haven't seen them in decades at this point and my mother has been searching high and low to see if she can find them. She found many other things along the way including geodes, petrified wood, seashells, and other crystals and rocks. Some were my brothers as well and quite a few were from my grandfather. I remember the geode being from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, my brother has one half and I have the other now.
I've always been a dreamer and have excellent dream recall of details - even from dreams I had as a child from things like hiding inside my grandmother's sofa from the dinosaurs that were coming down the street (probably because I loved watching Land of the Lost), dreaming that I was a bat and flapping my arms with the sheets in bed, and stuff about nuclear power plants (I live in Pennsylvania, and was about 4 years old when Three Mile Island happened, also I used to build nuclear power plants with my blocks.) I've always been fascinated with dream worlds and dreams in general. As a side note, many years later my mother told me that I used to have dreams about animals biting my fingers and hands when I was very young and she said that she never told me that she used to have the same dreams when she was a child.
I was a creative and imaginative child and loved drawing and building things. My earliest artistic renderings were drawings of houses whose chimneys were struck by lightening. I think that was a common theme because the apartment complex we lived in was next to a bus depot with a tall chimney that may have been struck by lightening. I was also introduced to death at a very early age, my kindergarten teacher had a heart attack and died in front of us in class. We thought she was asleep. We tried to wake her up and eventually went to go find a grown up. I couldn't really communicate what happened to my parents, but kept saying something about her leg. Later they received a phone call informing them what happened.
In 1981, my family relocated from Pennsylvania to Rome, Georgia which is about an hour outside Atlanta because my father got a teaching job at a college there. Being a transplanted Northerner in Northwest Georgia was an eye opening experience, suddenly I was the "Dumb Yankee" because the Civil War nee "War of Northern Aggression" as they called it was still a sore spot in the early 1980s apparently. In retrospect, Civil Rights were somewhat nebulous because one day I came home and asked my mother "why the Black kids had to sit at the back of the bus?" A great question coming from a six year old. I'm not going to mince words, I grew up in a racist town where Black people were always referred to by the N-word. It wasn't even malicious, it was so commonplace that it was just normal. Might I add, in addition to being a "Dumb Yankee" because I was from the North, I was also a "N-word Lover" too, because calling a young child that is totally acceptable apparently. I guess us Northerners do things differently and that can cause quite a stir, my father was almost run off the road by the KKK for giving a Black colleague a ride home from work. Yah, that kind of different. Even though I was white, I was still "othered" because I was from the North and somehow that made me not quite white like the Southern born Whites. I still ruminate over my childhood experiences and never really come up with answers that make any sense.
We rented the first house we lived in Georgia for about a year and then bought a house across town. I liked the first house better as it was on a wooded property with lots of trees and stuff. The house we moved to across town was in a small development that was built on swampland. I grew up with lots of tornado drills at school and occasional warnings. I never saw one though, but my mother did. I still get anxiety during severe storms. Part of me loves storm energy and my inner child is like "we're all gonna die!!" One of the things I loved was making "witches brew" after storms, collecting the debris, plant material, and putting it in murky water. When I made my first batch of Florida Water, it took me back to that place as a child. I spent a lot of time outdoors traipsing through wooded areas collecting arrowheads that we would find making forts out of tree branches and limbs.
The second house we lived in was previously owned by a family whose daughter died in a tragic car accident, she was in a car on a foggy night with friends and they stopped at the train tracks because a train was coming, but didn't know the car was partially on the tracks and they were struck by the train and killed. My bedroom was her bedroom and I felt her spirit or ghost. Children can be more aware of these things than adults. I don't know if I ever told my parents about it. One of my earliest spiritual beliefs was in past lives and reincarnation. I don't know where I would have stumbled upon the concept as a child especially in the Catholic church, but it always made sense to me. I used to have waking visions and dreams of past lives throughout my childhood of a young girl named Camille Christiana Peacock and flashes of her life and death. I think she may have drowned. I have the details all written down somewhere in my vast archives of writing. I don't think I told my parents about that either though I remember telling some friends about them in grade school or junior high.
At some point in time, given the lack of Northerners of Eastern European descent, my family converted from Byzantine Catholicism to Roman Catholicism and I started going to Catholic school in the third grade. Given the lack of cultural diversity, there was a Jewish family in our parish because they probably were the only Jewish family in that part of Georgia. I was interested in the stories, but I was one of those kids with a lot of questions and I wanted concrete answers to them.
I always felt like I was a child that was born as an adult. I wasn't overly interested in childhood things and hated being a child. My favorite movies were Grease 2 and Rock N' Roll High School. I still stand by my stance on Grease 2 being vastly superior to the original. I watched MTV from its inception and that for me was when my whole world changed. We ended up moving back to Pennsylvania in the Summer of 1984 and that's where the story will pick up in the next installment.
Halloween is a tradition passed down from the Celtic pagan celebration of Samhain (pronounced Sowen) which marked the end of the harvest and transition into winter, which was often associated with death. It is said that on Halloween that the veil between the worlds thins allowing the dead to communicate with the living realm. This became a time of great celebration with ornate costumes and divination or fortune-telling. The traditions were mostly predominant in European countries (or those colonized by Europeans.) In the United States, Halloween didn't take foothold until the mid-to-late 1800s with the influx of Irish immigrants during the Potato Famine. Also, at this time trick or treating was incorporated into Halloween celebrations.
5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween/Samhain:
Halloween is a magical time for all who celebrate, whether it is a sacred day of group or solitary rituals and spellcasting, trick or treating with the kids, or going to a lavish party. Find the magic in the little things and celebrate!
I've been steeped in research on how plants, flowers, earth, resins, oils, and other materials are used in magickal practices throughout different traditions. Its a lot more esoteric than the standard therapeutic approach, but it has been a wonderful exploration into plant lore and folk magic.
Smudging has become a popular practice in recent years used to remove negative energies from the home and other personal spaces, but its origins come from the Indigenous people of North America. It is important to remember that smudging ceremonies were sacred rituals to the Indigenous people and furthermore that until 1978, they could be jailed or even killed because it was illegal for them to practice their religion. There are also issues of sustainability due to the over-harvesting of White Sage in particular due to the uptick in popularity. Is Burning Sage Cultural Appropriation? Here’s How To Smoke Cleanse In Sensitive Ways is an eye opening look at the practice of smudging and its origins and implications.
Many other plants and herbs have protective and purifying properties that can be used to spiritually cleanse the home and other personal spaces. These herbs can be burned as incense, carried in sachets or charms, their essential oils could be diffused or used to create an energy cleansing spray, or they could be placed in offering bowls.
Here are my Top 10 Choices for alternatives to sage for energy cleansing.
Other materials that are excellent for their protective and cleansing properties: activated charcoal, baking soda, sea salt, coconut milk, egg shell powder, and vinegar.
I use a fair amount of sage in my aromatic creations including incense, sachets, charms, and infused oils, but I am cognizant of its meaning, place, and origin in spiritual practices. There are numerous other plants, flowers, herbs, resins, and natural materials that provide the same level of protection as sage. As always be mindful of practices and traditions especially as they become more mainstream, as many have been impacted by the legacy of colonialism and oppression.
an eclectic witch, certified aromatherapist, herbalist, perfumer, skincare formulator, and incense crafter who specializes in unique creating handcrafted perfumes, bath products, skincare products, soaps, shampoo bars, aromatherapy products, incense blends, ritual oils, botanical charms, candles, and ritual and spell supplies.