You are here

On the making of Abramelin Oil

For the last several weeks, I've been gathering information about the making of the Abramelin Oil, used in a number of Mystical and magickal systems for purposes of consecration and anointment. Yesterday I mixed a prototype batch based on the recipe for the macerated version of the oil This article summarizes my notes and thoughts on the process and expectations for it when, in about 6 weeks, it is decanted.

After looking at the various recipes for the oil, and looking at my immediate sources for quality components, and checking as many printed references as I had locally, and several on the web, I came to a few decisions about interpretation of the various comments and texts on the manufacture of the oil, and made a couple based on my own experience with kitchen chemistry and working with oils of other sorts.

The major variants of the recipe are all tidily listed on the wikipedia entry for the Abramelin Oil. Give that article a quick read if you are here for reference material on the process. My choices and the instructions that follow will make a lot more sense if you do.

The question of sorting out the components, first and foremost, is a bit dicey. The components agreed upon by all the recipes are True Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Myrrh and Olive Oil. The others- Cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum), Galangal and Calamus are up for debate, and the reasons they appear are somewhat debated as well. The short versions are that Cassia comes from the same genus of plant as True Cinnamon, and are very similar in most of their flavor and oder characteristics. The Galangal-for-Calamus substitution appears to be the result of translation errors.

I asked my darling wife, Kess, to procure for me, if available, quantities of True Cinnamon, Galangal root and Calamus root from an herb dealer we know through the SCA. I'll drop the name on request. I wanted to get at least some of the components in as raw a form as possible. which brings us to a critical point:

"You get out of Magick what you put in."

The manufacture of ritual gear is, in my thought and experience, a way of focusing the mind and storing that focus and energy for later application. This includes energy expended in thought and research on a matter of procedure, materials etc. - the energy will end up in the finished product, one way or another.

Moving right along, It is unlikely that I shall find myself in possession is a dedicated alchemical lab at any point in the next couple of years, so I make use of my kitchen. that being said, there are some operations which my smallish kitchen permits, and other which it simply does not. I realized fairly quickly that I was looking at a choice between the essential oil or the macerated oil variants. I chose to work on the macerated version simply because it afforded me an opportunity to invest greater effort, through the use of raw ingredients.

Now, the phrase "according unto the art of the apothecary" is a particularly bothersome phrase which appears in the Book of Abramelin and Bible versions of the Oil. The general consensus here, and it is one that I agree with, is that the oil is intended to be macerated and then distilled for separation and purification. However, I do not have the equipment for a good distillation process available to me, so this leaves me with the task of finding an interpretation which falls within the boundaries of my budget, toolkit and kitchen-lab. The solution, for me, was a matter of willful misinterpretation.

As the blacksmith has his anvil, the mason his square and level, and jello-wrestler her bikini and high-heels, so has the apothecary his recognized tool-of-trade: the venerable mortar and pestle. I chose to take this as the referent of the phrase, and with my mortar and pestle, some elbow grease, and about 5 hours, pulverize my solid components.

I used the 4 parts cinnamon :: 2 Parts Myrrh :: 1 part Calamus ratio for my solids, in units of ounces-of-weight (as opposed to fluid ounces). 3 ounces of the True Cinnamon were pre-groound, and this turned out to be a Very Good Thing. Pulverizing Cinnamon in a mortar and pestle takes a really long time and a lot of effort. It took about 3 hours of grinding to reduce a single ounce of bark to a reasonable powder by this method. Pulverizing the Myrrh took about 20-30 minutes and the Calamus root about an hour. Calamus, incidentally, does not grind very gracefully at all, and the end result was semi-sticky pulp. Taking portions of each of the solids, they were then ground together for a time, until I had worked through the whole lot of the material.

Measuring out 3.5 ounces of olive oil, this was added slowly to the solid matter, and quickly confirmed my theory that 7 oz of solids will remain largely untouched by the oil, which absorbs very quickly and completely into about 3 to 4 ounces of the mixture, and no amount of cursing is going to release enough oil to get all of the solid material covered. so, I began to slowly add more olive oil to the mixture, until it could take on no more, and there was a thin scrim (1/8 inch approx.) of oil on top the whole mix. total oil mass, by eyeball, ended up being about 5.5 ounces.

I was using a glass "Ball" canning/Jam Jar with a 2-part lid as the final home for the mix, and in order to seal it for storage, put it in a small pot of water which covered it about 3/4 of its height, which was very slowly brought up to just below a boil before tightening the cap, in order to vacuum seal the lid. This had the secondary purpose of acting as a release catalyst for the oils in the solids, and to help dissolve the resins a bit more.

In order to make up for the additional oil, I intend to let the mush cure for an extra two weeks or so before decanting.

The decanting process will consist of filtering the mash through cheesecloth and letting it drain naturally into a storage container, and thereafter proceeding to press the cheesecloth wrapped mash in a vice blocked with two cedar boards so as to extract any remaining free-able oil. This will also help get the excess oil out of the solid mash, and facilitate the baking of that mash into incense blocks for burning on coals. (waste not, want not!)

Suitability for ritual use will be determined at decanting.