You probably know that I’m a proponent of doing what makes you happy. You probably also know that I’m a huge supporter of the “do what works for you” movement. That doesn’t mean that I think cultural appropriation is okay (even though it is, in some instances, but that’s another post). It just means that it’s okay to be Eclectic, to think for yourself, to follow your heart, to use your own common sense and/or intuition and do what works. Magic is about results, after all, so the proof is always in the proverbial cake, not necessarily the recipe.
But that “do what works” attitude can also lead to the possibility of using ingredients in your spell work that might not be so good for your outcome. For me, that applies most specifically to the topic of essential oils versus synthetic fragrances.
I only use natural essential oils in my magic-making. There are many reasons, some of which I probably don’t even know myself – or at least can’t express properly. But the main ones are these:
1) I don’t want extra chemicals to affect the outcome of my magic. And they will. Because they have a fundamental purpose all their own, just like everything else on our planet. And they do indeed have powers that can help or hinder a work. Which leads me into number 2.
2) No matter how much you ‘charge’ a synthetic fragrance oil, it isn’t going to accomplish your spell’s goal if it’s basic fundamental purpose doesn’t mesh with your directive. (The same is true for essential oils.) The point is that ‘charging’ any substance – natural or otherwise – isn’t going to change its fundamental purpose.
3) “Old School Witches” did not employ synthetic fragrances. Even if they could have, I’m not convinced they would have. They understood that everything has its own purpose and it couldn’t be changed by ‘charging,’ as I mentioned above. (Except perhaps in the case of Quartz Crystals … those things will hold any kind of charge, in all seriousness.)
Just so we’re clear: “Old School Witches” are not “medieval,” nor are they 1970’s New York Gardnerians (whom I have nothing against, by the way – but they’re Wiccans, which I tend to separate from Witchcraft). My Great Grandmother was not “medieval.” She was born in 1909 and passed in 1994. Nor was she a Wiccan in any way, shape or form. She didn’t even know what Wicca was. She didn’t even call herself a Witch. To her and the rest of my devout Bapticostal family, Witches were “of the devil” and “kissed the ass of old Splitfoot himself.” But what she did was definitively and unequivocally not sanctioned (and often preached against) by the church. She was what I consider an “Old School Witch.”
She either grew her ingredients, traded local for them, or substituted a different ingredient where she couldn’t find the exact one she needed. Or she did without and found a different work that would accomplish the same purpose with ingredients she could get her hands on. She was Old School.
I think a lot of people use synthetic fragrance oils because either (a) essentials may be far too expensive, and some of them really, really are very expensive; or (b) there are some fragrances that are not attainable in an essential oil because the plant (or other being, such as a whale, in the case of ambergris) is either endangered, extinct or at the very least illegal to harvest. In my opinion, there are close natural substitutes for those in the latter category that would work just as well. And in the former case, do without it and find something else in your price range or grow the flower and make the oil yourself from scratch. Flower seeds are rarely more than two bucks at your local hardware store with a garden center.
So just be careful. If you’re going to use synthetic oils (and I highly advise against it) in your magical undertakings, at least make sure you know what’s in them. (And that’s difficult, since most aren’t required to be labeled with ingredients unless they’re being touted as a cosmetic, like perfume or cologne.) It’s like the old adage, “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.”