Morwyn. Witch's Brew: Secrets of Scents. (Arglen, PA: Whitford Press, 1995) 190 p. Bib. Ill.
ISBN: 0-924608-19-6

There is plenty of information out there on aromatherapy (Cunningham's Magical Aromatherapy, etc), and on making incense (Wylundt's of Incense, etc.), but good material on using scents of all kinds in general is scarce. This engaging book attempts to fill the gap, covering both natural and synthetic scents (synthetics are strictly verboten in aromatherapy).

This work on perfume and scent magick is the fourth in a series of books by the author about Witchcraft. The author appears to come from an American background, and a formal/traditional tradition. She apparently runs a scent/perfumery business with a pagan/New Age/magickal focus. (Given that the book is published under a pseudonym, one is reluctant to make definitive statements about the author!)

The book begins with a somewhat unreliable review of perfumery in history. For instance, though flowers have been used as symbols for communication throughout history, I think the statement "Before people could read and write and when they were more in touch with their intuitive natures than we are today, they devised a way to communicate with each other through plants" is wildly misleading. The facts are engaging enough to merit further study, but futher study would definitely be needed to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Due to peculiar organization, that chapter concludes with an interesting section on using scent blends to scent letters or card for magickal intentions.

The next chapter covers the basics of perfumery, including definitions of terms and some information about blending. For more information on blending perfumes in general, the reader should see works like Nancy Booth's Perfumes, Splashes & Colognes. This is followed with a somewhat high magickal ritual for inner/outer beauty, for which the readers should be familiar with ritual techniques such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual. Further chapters cover bath, incense, and potpourri/sachet uses of scents, with recipes and rituals. The final chapter covers aromatherapy.

Almost half the book, however, is the Appendix covering Perfume, Incense and Potpourri ingredients. Each item is given by name, Latin names and any common names. History, magickal uses and aromatherapeutic uses are coverred briefly in each. The author explains that this material is taken from her personal notes from a variety of sources, as well as her own research. From my own experience I can say that she is right in some particulars, though some (like the rarity and expense of obtaining Melissa oil) seem off the mark. Nonetheless, this listing is far more helpful than, say, Dunwich's work, or Cunningham's Encyclopedia.

The bibliography/endnotes are quite good, and amazing in a genre dominated by no-footnote, no-sources how to books.

Though this work has some definite weaknesses-- notably the problems with history and the overly formalistic tone-- it is worthwhile for anyone making herb mixtures to have. The cheery, conversational style makes it also a good book for the beginner who has begun making pomaders, potpourris, or perfumes and wishes to incorporate magickal influences.


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