There are some truly weird and wonderful love potions out the, made using some even stranger ingredients — from leeks and periwinkles to reptiles and rhino horns. Let’s take a closer look. Could someone already have cast spell on you? You might wish they hadn’t…
Bodily fluids are required in some love potions — from sweat and tears to urine and blood. In other potions they are used to make the potion stronger. Here is one for ‘head over heels love’ that uses saliva in the potion and also suggests adding another bodily fluid to strengthen it:
“Mix together a chip of gold, a pinch of sage, a drop of charged witch’s saliva (you can use your own saliva), a smooth rock obtained from a river bed, half a cup of rain water, a tea spoon of honey, a piece of tree bark such as witch hazel, a drop of vanilla, a drop of amber oil, a pinch of ginger, a pinch of table sugar and a handful of chocolate chips. Adding another body fluid will enhance the potency of it.”
Gingseng has been used in Asian countries for years as an aphrodisiac and is also called for in some love potions, spells or charms. Its perceived power comes from the fact that it has a shape reminiscent of the human body. The belief in the potency of this and other objects such as rhino horns (which have a phallic look) or bulls’ testicles is called the “Doctrine of Similarities”. Essentially it says that objects that look similar will have the properties of the other. An ancient medical book in India, the Athervaveda, states: “Seed that is poured into the female that forsooth is the way to bring forth a son… The strength of the horse, the mule, the goat and the ram, moreover, the strength of the bull (ginseng) bestows on him… This herb will make thee so full of lusty strength that thou shalt, when thou art excited, exhale heat as a thing on fire.” Ginseng is probably one of the widest used ingredients in love potions.
Marigolds are frequently used in love potions and spells. One of the more common charms is to plant marigolds in the footprints where your loved one has walked. Others suggest putting the leaves under the pillow or bed, which it is said will make your dreams come true. An ancient love charm tells us to cut marigold flowers, sprigs of wormwood and thyme and dry them before a fire, then crush to a powder on St. Luke’s day. Simmer them over the fire with a little honey and vinegar, put it on you at bedtime and chant:
“St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me, in dreams, let me my true love see.”
If a husband and wife are having an argument, bringing in a pot of marigolds is said to bring peace to the house (husbands may want to remember this!). As you can see, marigolds have been used in many ways to restore, show or find love.
Lizards are often used in love potions or spells with other things; one of the most unusual I found was the following Nigerian potion (I kept the original spelling):
“i advise u to go and take agama lizard neck (the red variety o), mix it with viper’s blood (2 spoons) + witches hair + a piece of your own umbilical cord (your own o cos another man’s own will not work o)+ all d nails u have ever cut off your fingers and toes. cook all dis in the fire of a volcano for seven days while you sing and dance around the volcano. and on the seventh day, drink it all while it is still boiling hot. walahi if any lady does not love you, it is the witches in your family that are responsible.”
If a man drowns a lizard in his own urine, that can be an “anti love philter” when drunk with wine or in some oil. Yet in the Philippines the same drowned lizards are used in the love potion itself.
Lizards are also used sans drowning. In some cases it is the urine of the lizard itself that is used, in others the dried lizard. Some Native American tribes use the lizard tail in love potions. The practice is not just confined to the tropics or Asia.
Leeks and periwinkles
Leeks are another common ingredient in many love potions and spells. For decades any of the allium bulbs (leeks, garlic and onions) have been considered aphrodisiacs in some form, the leeks particularly so because of their phallic shape. Leeks are also an integral part of many love potions or spells including one in combination with the periwinkle flower pictured below. The 16th century book entitled ‘The Boke of Secretes of Albertus Magnus of the Vertues of Herbes, Stones and Certaine Beastes’, talks of the power of periwinkle to produce love between a man and his wife. It must be powdered and mixed with leeks and earthworms and then added to the couple’s meals.
Rhino horns, and tusks
Sadly, some of the most popular so-called aphrodisiacs in the world are rhino horns, elephant tusks and other animal parts which mean possible extinction for many species which are poached for their parts.
The only reason these aphrodisiacs are considered so powerful is because of the shape of the horns and tusks. There is inherent value in ivory, of course, but most countries have clamped down on all importing of it, and their biggest value is being used in love philtres or for other ‘medicinal’ purposes, with Asia the biggest buyer.
In many safari parks and protected national parks, rhinos have a guard who walks with them and has orders to shoot to kill poachers. I had the opportunity to stroke a ‘wild’ rhino in the bush with his 24/7 guard (and still have the picture). I find it a crime that they are so endangered by poachers for their horns that it is necessary to take a little of the wild out of them to protect them. (This rhino I saw was in a protected sanctuary, but there are others where the guards are further away, and it would be suicidal to attempt to stroke them).
Perhaps one of the most well known ingredients in love potions and as an aphrodisiac, Spanish fly actually comes from a beetle — the beauty pictured here. Emerald green, it contains 5% cantharidin which irritates animal tissues. Do not try to use it yourself as it can be very dangerous, causing permanent damage to kidneys and genitals. Earliest known use goes back to Hippocrates. As for its use in a love potion, Magician Voisin, in 1670, mixed it with dried mole and bat’s blood. Since then, there have been scores of uses, but the realization of its danger has curtailed this somewhat.
Locks of hair are another item often called for in love potions, either your own or the one you want to ‘charm’. An example of using hair and the wild pansy heartsease:
“Take a lock of your lover’s hair and mix it with the burned ashes from a small piece of your lover’s clothing. Wrap in a white handkerchief with a handful of johnny-jump-ups (also known as heartsease). Bury the handkerchief under your porch at the new moon. Your love will be true to only you — but only for one month.”
All in all, if you want a love potion there are numerous available for all sorts of uses — from ones to keep your partner faithful, to others for peace in the home, and still others for making the one you love blind to anyone but you.
Many cultures consider it more dark magic than white, since it is said to take away the will of the one who has the spell cast on them, forcing them to love you. Others still believe it is white magic as it helps the lonely find true love. Whether you believe in them or not, or see them as white or dark magic, it certainly gives us a real insight into the importance of love in people’s lives. One final gentle love charm:
“Offer a sprig of basil to the one you love. If he accepts it, he is yours.”