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Onycha operculaOnycha
Onyx species
There's a lot of disagreement about what exactly is meant by onycha. Because onycha is actually Greek for the Hebrew word shekhelet (Exodus 30:34), which means nail, various interpretations include cloves (which resemble carpenter's nails), a type of tree resin (which can sometimes be translucent, like a thick fingernail), an unnamed root (which is shiny like a fingernail), labdanum (harvested from a plant bearing a flower with nail-like marks on its petals), and finally, the "nail" of a shellfish, which is what this onycha is. This part of the shellfish functions as a door and has the technical name of operculum. It has long been an incense ingredient in the East. Logically enough, onycha is aligned with the Element of Water and is associated with Cancer and with the other Water signs, Scorpio and Pisces. It is the perfume for the path between Binah and Tiphareth on the Tree of Life. It is also the scent of the Chariot in the Tarot and is associated with the Egyptian god Khephra. In the Hebrew Bible, the recipe for the incense to be used in the Temple features, among other things, onycha, balsam, galbanum, and frankincense. Crowley substituted storax for the balsam and olibanum for the frankincense to get an incense he called Tetragrammaton.

Oddly enough, when burned onycha is said to smell like castoreum, a very musky substance produced by beavers and used in perfumery. I've never smelled castoreum, so I can't say. It does give off a whiff of a sea smell for a moment, then has a slightly sweet fragrance. I was surprised how quickly it was consumed; it also sputtered. You can break it up with a hammer and then grind it in a coffee grinder with a metal blade, like a Braun, or a mortar and pestle, but not a soft one.

Onycha powder
10 g $9.00

Temporarily out of stock - try the onycha essential oil instead


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Uses In Witchcraft & Magic:

Making Ketoret
Making Crowley's Tetragammaton Incense
Kabbalah
Honoring Khephra
Elemental Magic (Water)

2004, 2015 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission