A client emailed me this morning with a question: He had two brands of King Solomon Wisdom oil, and they were not identical, and he wanted to know why.

Well, there are two good reasons for the differences between the two oils. Either could have been “reverse-engineered” by someone who had a good nose and knew a lot about herbs and conjure — Miss Cat at Lucky Mojo has done a lot of that. It’s a sound and careful way to arrive at a traditional formula, but you have to have keen senses and be well-educated in conjure.

Another way also requires sound knowledge of herbs and what magic they can do: Put together the herbs that you *know* will bring wisdom (or whatever) and call it by the traditional name. This requires more thought than investigation; you may not arrive at the traditional recipe, but you’ll have one that will work.

This is how we get oils that look and smell different but have the same name.  Some folks were taught to color their King Solomon Wisdom Oil purple, and some weren’t.

And then there’s a cheap, lazy, dishonest way: put together some mineral oil, cheap artificial fragrance, and dye – and slap a label on it. You don’t have to charge so much, but you can still make a fat profit.  You don’t even have to know anything about magic – this is how we get things like bright blue “Four Thieves Vinegar” labeled “Not for Human Consumption!” or “Van Van Oil” with a picture of a vanilla ice cream cone on the bottle.

I prefer to buy oils that have bits of herbs in the bottle; that’s a pretty good sign that the maker knew what he was doing and took the work seriously. I’m not one of those who believes that magic is all in the mind. Those herbs and things believe in themselves, possibly even more than you and I do.

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