Earlier today I checked on my ceremonial oil and noticed a large air bubble in the quart jar. You can see it above covering the left side of jar's curved base. Brought both jars out to the kitchen in order to rectify and take these pics. Thought it might be helpful if you're getting ready to check your own brews or simply appreciate more encouragement by way of information concerning what you can expect as an overall process when doing this for yourself.
As soon as I unsealed the jar band on the quart jar I could smell the white pine. Once I lifted the lid I also smelled juniper and lavender in equal measure. It was only after I walked away to grab my camera that my brain registered the after-note of tulsi just as true to itself as a small crushed leaf in my hand.
a visual aid of what you can expect due to oil seepage. The outside of the infusion bottle may also have a sheen of oil. I use a cotton dishcloth with a tiny amount of grease cutting liquid dish detergent to swipe clear then polish everything clean with some warm water rinsed through the cloth and over the dish.
note: I don't include this oil with lid leavings (see below) because it isn't remotely clean. It's been sitting around in the open air collecting everything that's passed through the room. By default that means it's holding a much lower vibrational frequency than sequestered lid leavings.
Here's what full to the brim should look like. Note the surface tension of the oil is still holding its own weight. Nothing should be dripping before you do this:
You can see oil seeping like something in a cave, and also dots of infusion material. That means you'll need to get everything clean and clear of oil. Yes I realize that sounds redundant but oil's relatively heavy. That can be a royal pain if you've got a lot of it to deal with at one time and your cleaning cloth becomes over-saturated too soon.
pro tip: The surface tension smush-down pictured above makes its own case for the advantages of working with banded lid canning jars. Although it's by nature a messy maneuver this particular way of getting the jar re-sealed with confidence is simple and effectively fool-proof.
When you check on your own oil's welfare you'll probably have a lid with some thoroughly oil saturated infusion materials clinging to the lid's underside. Usually I use a small rubber spatula to scoop everything back in the jar. But today I had the inspiration to try scooping everything into the bottom pan of the enamel pan I use for all my herbal concoctionary needs. Once the water was simmering I placed it on the stove's warming burner. This had the whole downstairs smelling refreshed and revitalized in 20 minutes or so.
The smaller half pint bottle I prepared didn't need additional oil. When I took a deep inhalation of its scent I discovered the imprint was exactly opposite to the larger jar. The tulsi hit me right in the third eye as soon as the lid was unsealed. But the general scent's olfactory after-glow came from white pine. In both jars the elder lavender buds mellowed the sharp edges of the juniper. Which in turn enlivened and bolstered the lavender.
If you're doing this - or still actively planning something out at the recipe level please share in comments or drop me an email.
Thought this might be a nice post to get manifested at a point in the year when there are plenty of gathering options irrespective of hemisphere and general temperature ranges. Am aware that many who read here actively engage in a variety of ceremonial rituals, including caring for the sacred objects they like to work with and Keep. More than likely that means everyone also has their own existing care and feeding rituals related to nourishing those things that nourish us tenfold more. Years ago I developed the habit of making my own consecration oils for nourishing purposes. I use them to dress candles just prior to lighting. I also like to warm the oil on the stove, add just a bit of beeswax, and pour it to cool within recycled hand or face cream jars. This becomes a nourishing and revitalizing butter for all wooden objects of ceremony as well as skin-headed drums and rattles.
~*~ you need a scrupulously clean wide-mouthed glass jar to successfully manifest this project. As a guide - I use a half pint canning jar for my personal use and in this case I also impulsively grabbed a full pint jar to infuse for wider distribution. Mainly because I inadvertently over-gathered inclusive materials. I've found a half pint of oil will meet my personal needs, plus maybe six or seven half ounce bottles to be given as gifts, for 2 or 3 years ~*~
I put the above jar remarks first because there's really no way around their importance at a practical level. Now to the single most vibrationally important aspect of creating a ceremonial oil that is in complete tune with your uniquely impeccable intentions:
when working with fresh/windfall materials: isolate your focus on your home landscape's most inherently sacred plants that are also at least a bit fragrant and safe enough to be handled over time. As with any other sacred and ceremonial endeavor there may be one or two that call to you there in the spontaneous moment of scanning what's available to be gathered.
If you're strictly urban or unable to roam around outdoors: Take stock of what you've gathered through shops, precious gathering expeditions in a loved one's garden or wild-crafting adventures, and as gifts from friends. Plan to spend a long slow dreary Saturday or Sunday puttering about your home while a small pan of infusing oil wafts its magic throughout your brain chemistry and home environment. Be assured that most dried herbs re-hydrate with slow deliciousness especially when they're warmed in a gentle and slow manner.
Note: You'll create a far more phytochemically potent oil by going the warm infusion route. Or if you get a little science-y from time to time, as I do, you might relish putting up two half pints - one as a warm infusion and the other left in place over slowed-down time as a cold infusion. That's how I concluded I preferred the latter method - because it felt a lot more vibrationally unique and gorgeously subtle to me. Among many other things I particularly loved how grounding and centering it became simply to see the infusion bottle sitting there quietly holding space in alchemical process day after week after month. Every time I picked it up and gently shook it I imbued the container's energy with my own love and gratitude for this tiny little way of slowing time enough to hold it there in my hand.
Perhaps your own emergent recipe will incorporate sacred purification elements of a long-standing historical nature such as the juniper and white pine in the first image. Or it might revolve around a plant or two with an established spiritual/ceremonial history that led to its inclusion in your garden space. My interest in Angelica archangelica (seedheads pictured above at my former home) began in my early twenties so when I first felt drawn to making ceremonial oils about a dozen years later it was a no-brainer to base nearly all of them, for years and years, upon the elevating properties of this illustrious herb's distinctive angelically antiseptic scent.
[Note the commonality of cleansing & purification properties held between the two evergreen sprigs and the angelica seed heads. Somebody working from dried/cached supplies might fill this quadrant by selecting some preciously hoarded copal, amber, or myrrh resin. If that somebody is you, pound what you've got into smaller pieces or at least scarify your resin in order to release more of its scent's healing and illuminating properties.]
pro tip: pounding dried tree resin is 'way easier and far less fiddly but if you're used to scarifying tough seeds here's another way to put that highly specific skill set to practical use.
Over the years I've been drawn to create nearly all the infusions I've made with olive oil as their carrier. For the vibrational/ceremonial oils I generally go with three months of cool infusion on a dark shelf in my dining room. This makes the coalescence of energetic and phytochemical properties nicely subtle and more about co-creation than 'maximum extraction' as when preparing medicinal tinctures and therapeutic oils. Matters of scent are easily fine-tuned once the base oil is prepared - most commonly via essential oils and/or strongly fragrant flower petals such as tea roses, their fresh wild cousins, or highly scented lilies such as the ever-popular Stargazer.
Am repeating a more complete look at the first image so you don't have to scroll up as you think more closely about your own options. Remember my chosen/illustrated quartet is just an example based on what was immediately on offering at the time I was spontaneously moved to prepare this oil as a ceremonial activity during the current season's mid-point energetic cresting.
Perhaps your ideal base/grounding formulation is a trio or even a duet. Focus on what it FEELS like you should work with not What Acey Did. That having been said - my oil's four-square base is firmly grounded in Place by the two evergreens inclusions. White pine is a naturally occurring tree ally and the juniper bush by the frog pond is the botanical anchor of the original landscaping plantings.
If you're reading along thinking I'd really like to do this but where would I even start try this:
Consider, as quietly as possible, what would ground your oil in the most personally meaningful corners of your daily landscape? Just keep asking yourself that until your automatic answer stops reflecting your lack of certainty. Go with your instincts. You have them or you wouldn't still be reading along with any inclination to try it for yourself. Gather what makes sense amount-wise plus just a little more. Not too much. Just enough so you aren't cut short if the proportional amounts need to be 'adjusted for taste' as you move into the prep work and your gathered materials begin to look and feel a bit different.
With strong grounding comes the ceremonial need for equally strong elevation. Lavender is an excellent and widely available choice in dried bud form that's often vibrant enough to include in projects like this one for two or even three years after harvesting. The dried buds in this post's images were given to me (an entire pound. YIKES.) two years ago in fully dried and husked form. But these treasures from a summer gone by shyly murmured in a steady way within my heart while I was figuring out my recipe - forgotten as they were in the farthest recess of my herbal pantry. I'd received so much lavender I simply didn't know how to deal beyond shoving the final overwhelming last-straw quart jar of it far out of sight. Stay tuned for how I'll employ the rest of this retrieved cache - most likely in celebration of the winter solstice.
To round out the quartet/power-square base, I was drawn to pluck the remaining sprigs of Tulsi that had not yet succumbed to our plummeting night temperatures. As you read my explanation below, think about any plant that YOU'VE actively brought into your garden/life specifically because it elevates your mood, soul and spirit. The vibrational goal in making a four-square base is to balance the organic landscape energy with intentional humanly-introduced plant energy of equal significance to the person making the oil. For that reason this is a great activity for Going Within in a unique way that may well reverberate, at least a little, every time you work with the oil or share it with somebody else.
Every year I grow about a hundred Tulsi plants from seed. Some day I'll explain the whole story but for now: the plants live as hardened off seedlings ever-eager to become full blooming plants within a variety of containers on our deck and the paved area below it. In the beginning of the crop's outdoor growing season I pinch off the tops when the flower heads are plump with purple-tinged budding energy. These are carefully dried for my family's winter tea inclusions. As the plants begin to branch I continue to harvest for drying purposes, but only here and there. At this point many of the tea herbs in the field are in bud, bloom or swollen with sought-after leaves so I focus on preparing our daily restorative teas from freshly gathered materials. In this dual manner I harvest what I pre-determine to be my fair share of the Tulsi over the next few months. The scant leavings pictured above, on the eve of Samhain, held a deep reservoir of this beautiful plant's juicily scented healing signature: abundant illumination, spiritual protection and elevation.
Let's review how to recreate my power-square on your own terms: think about the scents and plant energies that draw you in and hold you steady in both practical and elevated aspects of your life.
As a very different example from what's on the screen - one year pretty far back in the past I made a square infusion from chopped angelica leaf stems, a few pristine acorns gathered from a particularly meaningful tree, a small white shell of enormous personal significance, and a recently broken aqua aura point. Later, when the oil felt ready for its final touches, I decanted and strained, placed the clear oil in a fresh glass storage jar, and then added a few drops of frankincense and sweet orange essential oils, plus the precious last remaining segment of a dried vanilla pod. I shook vigorously for about a week before commencing work with the oil, with the vanilla pod fragment left in the jar.
While you're finalizing your choices make sure you have a sufficient amount of carrier oil on hand. Olive oil is often the cheapest and easiest choice especially since most people already have it on hand in their cabinet. It's easy to find in the market in a variety of quantities/prices. Of even more value for vibrational considerations, olive oil has a number of established connotations in both healing and ceremonial work. It weight and viscosity adds a nice little sizzle to a burning candle and hugs the beeswax close when making a butter-cream to feed your sacred objects.
Gather your chosen infusion elements. Work quietly and mindfully to chop or hand-tear the various elements. Remember that the more you cut or tear the fresh material, the more surface area will be exposed for infusing the oil with its physical/phytochemical properties.
pro tip: set aside any stems or woody branches to dry a bit. When your homespace feels in need of a special cleansing and brightening perk, break everything into pieces that will fit in a simmering pan of water. The scent will be subtle at first and then (as the dried wood chemistry releases itself into the heated water) miraculously full and rejuvenating.
I'm not sure how long it took me to prepare my pint and half pint jars. I do know it was long enough to drop down deep into my quiet inner center. And to relish how healing it felt and how grateful I was to have taken the time and space for the process.
Once you have your materials bruised or chopped place them gently in their jar and slowly fill it with olive oil. Note: since oil's so heavy it takes a while for all the air bubbles to rise to the surface. You can help this along with a clean chop stick or wooden barbecue skewer, Sometimes for smaller bottles I've used an extra long darning or doll-making needle. Try stirring the bottle's contents gently then doing something else for twenty minutes before stirring again. Once all the air bubbles seem to be released cap the bottle tightly. Turn it upside down on a saucer or in a shallow bowl. Leave it alone overnight or even a bit longer. By then any remaining air will have formed a gigantic bubble at the bottom of the jar.
note: I like isolating the air bubble this way even though it means you have to turn the bottle over to get it all the way filled. But this way you'll have a visual idea of how much oil you have to add due to the curvature at the base of most glass bottles. Upright, it's easy to get visually distracted by both the lid bands and the congregated infusion materials due to somewhat less curvature at the top of a typical wide-mouthed jar.
Once you've adjusted the oil amount in the jar, it will become very apparent why you're sequestering this project within a saucer or bowl. Keeping the project as clean and free of seeping oil as possible is a bit fiddly but easy enough to manage quickly and effectively. I like the way this low-key jar tending adds another layering act of careful manifestion. I usually keep the oil infusion going for a full season. This would make a lovely family/inter-generational project to begin now and complete in late winter or early spring.
If you have any questions, leave comments or send me an email.
Above: my beloved familiar kitty-girl Celeste who died, at 23, two years ago tomorrow. Here she is as a young lass in one of her favorite resting places at our former home - nestled deep within an expansive colony of Sweet Cicely. She also loved resting amongst Angelica plants which is what I thought this image showed until I loaded it into this post. Have decided I like closing-out with this peekaboo glimpse of her all the same. For she is an enormously big part of the story I'm telling here ...