Today we’re going to be creating some planetary tinctures. There are three stages to this process, with multiple steps within each. This is a part of the lesser work (using plants). So, without further ado, a tutorial on creating planetary tinctures.
Stage One: Extracting Sal Salis
Extracting Sal Salis, otherwise known as ‘salt of the salt’ is the first step in this process. We’re going to be doing this with wood ashes. Thus, we are extracting the water-soluble salts from the plant matter. Hardwood is best for this process. Ash and lime trees are ready to burn immediately after cutting, which is a good enough reason for most people to use them if possible.
Make a fire with your untreated hardwood. Use twigs and dry leaves, grass, etc. as kindling. Never use a pre-made firestarter or paper! This is best done on a sunny day, not only because we’re going to be partially lighting the fire with the Sun, but because of the elemental influence the Sun emits via its rays.
Use a magnifying glass, and carefully positioning it, use a magnifying glass to ignite the wick of a candle. Then, carefully tilting the candle as to not drip wax on the fire materials, light the kindling. If you’re having trouble lighting the candle, dip some filter paper in ethanol. Light the paper on fire, then light the candle on fire, instead of directly from the magnifying glass to the wick.
Continue adding wood to the fire and burning it away as needed until you have two gallons (ten liters) of ashes. Stay with the fire for as much time as possible while it burns. Give it your full attention, allowing its energy to engulf your pains and sorrow, and unburden your soul.
Collect the ashes and grind any small solid pieces left into powder.
Calcinate the ashes in a flame-proof ceramic container. Do this by roasting the container on a hot stove until all of the ashes are gray.
Allow ashes to cool and put them in a large enamel pan, adding several gallons of filtered rainwater or spring water. This may require you to do several batches, depending on how large your enamel pan is.
Boil these liquid ashes for fifteen minutes. Then, filter it through an unbleached coffee filter, or filter paper into another pan. Return the remaining solids called caput mortuum (death head) back to the Earth.
Boil the filtered liquid (uncovered). As the liquid reduces from evaporation, salts will become visible. When almost all liquid is evaporated, the salts will begin to sputter. You may choose to put on gloves and goggles for safety. Stir the solidified salts until they’ve been hardened.
Break the salts into very small pieces. Drive off the remaining moisture in the salts in the oven. Calcine again on high heat (covered) for at least one hour.
Dissolve the salts in filtered rainwater or spring water. Repeat the process of filtering and evaporating until no residue remains in the filter. Powder the pure, dry salts, and place them in an airtight jar. If you plan to make holy water, keep a small amount in a separate airtight container. This is the end of stage one.
Stage Two: Producing Oleum Salis
Alkaline salts from the ashes are very hygroscopic, meaning that they attract a lot of moisture from the air (read my article on Dew and its Place in Alchemy). Thus they are used in alchemy as a dew magnet. When saturated with dew, the salts become liquid. This is called Oleum Salis, otherwise known as ‘oil of salt.’ This substance is hands-down the best solvent for extracting planetary virtues from the plants for planetary tinctures.
On a still evening where the skies are cleared, spread your sal salis 1/2 inch (1 centimeter) deep in glasses, glazed earthenware, or enamel dishes. Place them in the open air 1 foot (30 centimeters) above the ground. This is best done when the Sun is in Aries or Taurus.
Gather the dishes before sunrise. The salts should be liquefied. If not, repeat again the next night, and again the night after if you’re having problems with it. Take your liquefied salts, filter, and preserve them in a sealed, airtight bottle. This is the end of stage two.
Stage Three: Preparing the Tincture
Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for. The preparation of your planetary tincture. This should be done on the first day associated with your planet of choice after the new moon. (The Seven Lords and Their Plants) Slowly dry and crush your plant governed by the relative planet.
Pour 1/7 of your oleum salis into a sealable glass jar. Add enough crushed herb to where it’s covered by the oil but still high up.
Place the glass jar, fully sealed, in a dark, warm cupboard. Typically this takes 1-2 days to create a red tincture, unlike vinegar or alcohol which can take up to several weeks!
Filter the oil and add an equal portion of ethanol (pure plant spirit). Seal the jar immediately. The alcohol will float on top.
Place the container in a warm, dark place such as an incubator or simply a closet. The spirit above (ethanol) will draw forth the spiritual properties of the plant and oil below. Impurities are typically visible between where the two liquids meet. The spirit will absorb color from below. Because of this, the lower tincture will become paler. This process takes 1-3 months to complete, depending on the temperature.
Pour off the alcohol and preserve it in a tightly sealed dark glass bottle. This is the planetary tincture. Do not take more than 8-10 drops a day, and take it with wine or water. Start taking it the morning of the first planetary day during a waxing moon.
Source: Real Alchemy by R. Bartlett and The Secrets of High Magic by F. Melville