The non-Magical community thinks we are crazy. Last night by about 8:15, I was inclined to agree. There I was, in the dark, in the snow, with another storm approaching, standing bundled against the 14 degree cold (but with the wind chill feeling more like 1 degree below zero) trying to keep a bowl of chopped leaves burning and smoldering. There were definitely moments when I wondered about my sanity.
If I thought that this tincture project would be 7 identical operations, with only the herbs being the variant, I learned otherwise. The menstruum are different. Jupiter is emerald green, Wizard of Oz, Emerald City, emerald green. Saturn is forest green. Last month, the lemon balm burned beautifully, and took very little coaxing to smolder to the white ash stage. The comfrey? Oh, the alcohol burned off quickly enough, but that was it. I then spent the next hour and a half (in that lovely weather) with a long nozzled lighter heating the comfrey and encouraging it to light. The lemon balm burned from the center, out. The comfrey would light in a ring at the circumference of the material, and the coals would not spread. Another difference was the odor of the smoke. The lemon balm smelled like burning herbs and was pretty evocative of certain teenage and young adult years. The comfrey smoke was far more acrid. It smelled of the barnyard, with under notes of over ripe bananas.
While I am quite sure that there are common place reasons for the different behaviors, the different ways the calcinations played out were very much in tune with the planetary, elemental and herbal powers. Of course the fiery Jupitor herb calcined more easily than the earthy Saturnian one. And, it does make sense that the Capricornian herb smelled more of barn yard than the lemon balm.
At 9pm, I came inside (I started at 7:30). I had a bowl of coarse gray ash, not the fine white material I had hoped for, but my fingers were far too numb to use the lighter anymore. I covered the bowl, so no foreign material could get into it, and took a most marvelous hot shower.
I finished the calcination today, using the oven. First, I broke up the large pieces of material that were still evident in the bowl, then put it in the oven (set for 450 degrees) for an hour. Luckily for the utilities bill, that was all it took. After it cooled, I ground the ashes, mixed them with distilled water, and then filtered the water. Here, too, was a difference from the last tincture. The "sludge" filtered from the Jupiter tincture was brown, from the Saturn tincture, it was gray. The filtered solution from the Jupiter tincture was clear. The solution from the Saturn tincture had a faint colored tinge to it. So I filtered it again, and again, and then a fourth time. And with every filtering, the solution became more colored. After the fourth filtering it was clearly a bright citrine (the color of the gemstone, not the Golden Dawn muddy color).
I had intended to take a picture of the salts in the pan from the last tincture as they had made such a beautiful pattern. However, in my great enthusiasm for the project, I forgot. I hope to remember this time around.
When this tincture is finished, I will have a several month break before I start the next one (Mars in Aries). Then, it will be pretty steady work through the summer. This first round will be planetaries, but already DH is encouraging me to try working with all the zodiac signs. Knowing how many people work without the encouragment and interest of their spouses and partners, I thought I might say now (and forever) how grateful I am to have his support of my interests.
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