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14 November 2009 @ 11:16 am
how to use condition oils - dressing candles, skin safety; powders  
I have been resisting writing this post for a long time, and I'll tell you why. In part, it's because there is already so much information easily available out there, that my writing anything is redundant. Furthermore, there are tons of ways to use oils, and my giving "instructions" is akin to my giving instructions on how to wash your hair: seriously, dab the oil on something. Those are the instructions. The details are up to you, how complicated you get is up to you, what object you rub the oil on is up to you.  (When people ask me for instructions, what they are actually asking for usually is a *spell,* whether they realize that's what they're asking for or not.)

But lots of people ask me for instructions, and get sometimes extremely upset with me when I tell them that my oils don't come with instructions but they can visit my blog for ideas and resources, so here you go: a post on how to use condition oils.

Dressing candles

I personally use a method similar to that outlined in Henri Gamache's Master Book of Candle Burning. Not all rootworkers do this - there is more than one way to skin a cat. But this is what I do. In this book, which you can get very inexpensively and which is a good investment if you are interested in candle-burning magic, Gamache outlines a theory of "polarity" for candles. Imagine your candle has a North pole (the top) and a South pole (the bottom). Gamache recommends that candles be dressed by rubbing the oil from the center of the candle to the North pole, and then the center of the candle to the South pole. He writes, "the candle is never rubbed in both directions toward both poles."

Now, here is where my methods (and the methods of some other rootworkers) change a bit. When I'm dressing a candle with oils for the purposes of drawing some influence, I rub the oil from the North pole (wicked end) to the center, so that I'm rubbing towards my body as I'm holding the candle in my hand. Then, I turn the candle so the wick is facing me, and then I rub from the end with no wick to the center. Since I"ve turned the candle, I'm still rubbing *towards* me. And I've gone from top to center and then bottom to center with my dressing.

When I'm dressing a candle to get rid of an influence, I reverse this process, dressing from center to wicked end, then turning the candle, and then dressing from center to non-wicked end.  Since I turn the candle, I'm always rubbing *away* from myself.

When I'm dressing a vigil or glass-encased candle, I go clockwise to draw/attract and counter-clockwise to "banish"/"get rid of"/repel.

Do you have to do it this way? No. There are other theories and other practices. But it's what I personally do.

Some sites that discuss ways to use condition oils:

Dr. E on how to use condition oils (note that his method of dressing candles is slightly different, but equally valid)
cat yronwode at Lucky Mojo on condition oils
sources for candle-dressing philosophies at the Lucky Mojo forums (see? many ways to skin a cat)

Continued (May 2012)

Oils and Skin Safety - a very very very frequently asked question

I make ritual oils, not cosmetics. My products are designed for use on altar implements and talismans and the like, and to anoint objects and candles. They are not hypoallergenic, are not labeled or sold as cosmetics, and are not made at dilution levels appropriate for all-over body application (though they are skin safe in the sense that they are made at safe levels for hand-skin use, meaning that you can safely use your fingers and hands to apply oils to other things). But I clearly mention that they are not cosmetics in the listings. I cannot possibly assure anyone that they won't be allergic to any of the ingredients.  In addition, there are laws about labeling cosmetics and body products; if you buy a condition oil or conjure formula that is not labeled in accordance with FDA and INCI guidelines/nomenclature, then it is not a body product and you need to make sure you know what you're doing before you go treating it like one.  I don't care *who* makes it - if it's not labeled/tested as a body product, use your head before using it on your body.)

Please do not fall prey to the myth that "synthetics are bad for you and natural things are good for you."  That is way oversimplified. Essential oils can poison you, and you can be allergic to them. Herbs and oils are powerful and must be respected.  This is often why my candles and bath/body products that contain no artificial fragrances sometimes do not have as strong a scent as mass-produced, widely-available products that use fragrance oils - not all essential oils are safe for you to use in the quantity I'd have to put in there in order for it to smell like an artificially fragranced item would smell.  Others are safe but not affordable in that quantity, or would interfere with a candle's ability to burn or something like that.  Don't expect your conjure stuff to smell like perfume necessarily - if it's made only with essential oils, it probably won't smell like anything from Bath and Body Works. That richly scented stuff often uses at least some fragrance or cosmetic oils, if only to make the scent last or to make the candle "throw" the scent.  And don't think that if the smell makes your target sneeze that therefore there is something wrong with the oil.  This is not pheromone-laced cologne or anything like that.  Your target may be allergic or sensitive to an ingredient in the oil - this happens with essential oils, cleaning products, synthetics, perfumes, detergents, organic stuff, non-organic stuff, everything. Allergies happen, and so does personal dislike of a scent.  Don't blame the oil. Change your approach and do your homework.

If you want to wear my conjure condition oils, you'd want to do some research on body-safe dilution levels for essential oils (most "make your own herbal shampoo" FAQs and sites will give rough guidelines, though they will always vary depending on the actual oils in question and your own skin sensitivity), and you should always do a skin patch allergy test (as you would before using a hair coloring product). As many conjure oils contain ingredients that can cause photosensitivity, you should never slather them on skin that will be in direct sunlight. Traditional conjure oils are not used this way, anyway; they are used for anointing, not as lotion (anointing means, for instance, that lightly-oiled hands are applied to the crown of the head for Crown of Success anointing, or on the feet for Protection, or on the temples for Memory Drops, stuff like that. In other words, they are applied in small amounts to ritually significant parts of the body, by getting the oil on the hands and then using the hands to apply/anoint, in ritual settings. They are not poured onto the skin). But the only conjure products made specifically to be worn on the skin are baths, soaps, and things which say "body products" like balms and such (though these are not guaranteed to be hypoallergenic either - no essential oil can be, and you may have allergies or sensitivities you don't know about 'til you use them. "Natural" does not mean "hypoallergenic."  "Natural" does not mean "harmless." Arsenic and botulinum toxin are "natural" too.)

You definitely don't need to use gloves to use my oils (though I would not want to leave my hands unwashed for long if I were using hot foot or hexing oils; otherwise, just keep them away from eyes, mouth, etc). I use my own hands to make all my products, and to dress my clients' candles and amulets with, and I've been doing so nearly daily for many years, so I don't make my oils with anything known to be toxic when used as directed. I just don't make them to be cosmetics or, God forfend, personal lubricants (and I have to say so, officially, because you would not BELIEVE some of the things people do sometimes - putting hoodoo oils on body parts where the skin is *way* too sensitive - which can land you in the emergency room with a really embarrassing problem -- or putting powders into people's food and stuff, just stuff that doesn't make any sense). I have to try to head that stuff off at the pass and make it really clear.

A good (though very general and not hard-and-fast) rule of thumb is that if it smells of citrus, you should probably keep skin dressed with it out of direct sunlight. If it smells strongly of cinnamon or spice, you should probably keep it away from sensitive areas/mucous membranes unless it's diluted to massage oil strength. If it smells minty, keep it away from your mouth and your children.  Cinnamon essential oil can cause chemical burns, so use on skin with extra care. Wintergreen essential oil has beneficial and therapeutic uses when used in appropriate amounts by a trained qualified practitioner, but it's not impossible to hit toxic levels of Wintergreen when you're talking about absorption through the skin, especially if you are also using over-the-counter remedies for things like arthritis, muscle aches, and the like.  Will wearing Red Fast Luck oil on your skin burn the piss out of you, or kill you if you've used Icy Hot the same day?  Maybe not, but why take the risk, especially if you don't know your manufacturer to be a person who designs it specifically for dermal application?  Once you start adding various sources of dermal absorption, esp. in the form of products not designed for medicinal or therapeutic dermal use, it's pretty hard to measure the amount you're absorbing. (For a taste of how complicated it can be to measure dermal oil absorption, have a look at this discussion which starts generally and moved on to discuss Eucalyptus, Pennyroyal, and Wintergreen in particular). Icy Hot was made in a lab according to standards of safety for dermal use; Fast Luck oil was not.  I am not an aromatherapist or medical herbalist.  I make condition oils, not medicines.  There are qualified aromatherapists and medical herbalists out there. I just don't happen to be one of them. 


My powders are made to draw sigils or symbols on your altar, to sprinkle around target areas for folks to walk in, to add a pinch to shoes, pockets, carpets, etc, or to add to a mojo bag or spell jar.  It is traditional to call your target's name, and/or murmur your petition or pray, as you deploy them.  They will not hurt you if you put them on your skin, but they aren't cosmetics, aren't made in accordance with cosmetic industry guidelines for ingredients or labeling, and are not talcum based.  They have actual powdered herbs in them, and if you think about it for a second you will realize that actual powdered herbs don't make good cosmetics. So if you are expecting a powder that is as finely ground as a cosmetic and that will make your skin really smooth, you will be disappointed with my powders. Some people do make talcum-based powders, which are quite traditional; it's my non-talcum powders that are actually the less traditional version, but I have health reasons for not using them or making them.  For the traditional formulas that actual need a mineral component for various reasons, I use something besides talcum to meet this traditional requirement (often cosmetic-grade mica powder, which can be had in various colors these days and thus serve double duty as a coloring agent).

Hoodoo condition oils are never meant to be consumed, and while few people would think to eat them, they often don't think quite enough about what they do with conjure products. Hoodoo powders are generally not designed for putting in food or drink - use powdered herbs for this, not conjure powder formulas designed for sprinkling, dusting, blowing, or drawing designs.  If you want your lover to put his or her mouth somewhere, use products that are designed for that sort of thing.  You can pray over them and add things to them, and that's more likely to end up being fun and not involve a hospital visit than is risking using a condition oil as a massage or lubricating oil :-)