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Calamus rootCalamus Root Essential Oil
Also known as sweet flag or sweet cane, this magick herb enjoys growing in or near water, and because of that, it has often been associated with the Moon. The Sun, however, is much more appropriate, because the root is very mildly stimulating and warming, and the flower is yellow with a very masculine form. Calamus is a component of the oil with which the priests of the Temple and the tools and altar of worship were anointed, as described in the Hebrew Bible (Exodus XXX:23-25):

23. 'Take thou also unto thee the chief spices, of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty, 24. and of cassia five hundred, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin. 25. And thou shalt make it a holy anointing oil, a perfume compounded after the art of the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.' (translation from The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, London: Soncino Press [1977]) Top

The text goes on to forbid the production of this oil for other purposes (Ex. XXX:32-33). I have often wondered if that prohibition is why Mathers translated calamus as galangal. Or perhaps he meant this substitution to function as a test of the operator's general knowledge. Certainly such tests occur often in magical texts, and I find it difficult to believe that Mathers just made a stupid mistake that was perpetuated for decades. Top

The Exodus recipe is the source for the oil described in the Abramelin operation, which facilitates contacting one's holy guardian angel. Here's a nifty Abramelin oil recipe that uses the specific gravity and percentage of essential oils in the respective plants to come up with a quickie recipe. It comes from the wonderful Anal-Retentive's Guide to Oil of Abramelin:

Non-Crowleyan Abramelin-Oil Helper™

15 drops myrrh eo
17 drops cinnamon eo
2 drops calamus eo
27.5 ml (1 scant ounce) olive oil

(29.6 ml = 1 fluid ounce, 20 drops = 1 ml, and 1 ml = 1 g)

This oil is quite powerful and works very well, although it has too much cinnamon in it for my taste. Remember when using cinnamon eo that greater than 1% dilution can feel hot and can create allergic reactions. It smells great but different from the macerated oil. I think this oil is a good example of how much of the herb's scent is lost in distillation. Top

Many have noted the similarity between the spices in the Temple oil (upon which the Abramelin oil is based) and those used in ancient Egyptian perfume oils. This is certainly true; in ancient Egyptian recipes, myrrh and cinnamon are often found as ingredients for making olive oil "astringent" so that it might more readily accept the subsequent ingredients, which are considered the actual fragrance. If that is true here, then the calamus is meant to be highlighted. Hmm... Top

Calamus has mundane uses as well, making an effective fixative in pot pourris and perfumes. This oil is steam-distilled from Acorus calamus rhizomes in India. Top

Toxicity Issues

Beta-asarone, a component of calamus essential oil, has been shown in lab experiments to cause mutations in human liver cells and human lymphocyte cells. The Eurasian type of calamus contains a very small amount of beta-asarone (5% of the essential oil), and the Indian variety contains a large amount (75% of the essential oil). This essential oil is from India. While it is true that not a single case of calamus root causing cancer in humans has ever been reported, I would consider that this oil should not be ingested under any circumstances (for once I concur with the FDA).  I do believe that much of the emphasis on the toxicity of this essential oil has more to do with its apparent involvement in the manufacture of illegal drugs than with any actual harm it might cause as a fragrance. I discontinued this oil for a while on account of it getting too much attention from people who wanted to use it to get high (it won't get you high, btw). I have brought it back because of the renewed focus on calamus as a component in Abramelin oil according to the new translations of the book from the more complete German manuscripts. And it sure smells good. Top

Combining with Other Essential Oils

The warm, herbal, spicey scent of calamus root combines well with cedarwood, cinnamon, frankincense, lime, orange, patchouli, and sandalwood. Top

Organic Calamus Root Essential Oil (Nepal)
5 ml $16.00

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Angel Magic
Abramelin Operation
White Magic
Sun Scents

Using Essential Oils

© 2006, 2017 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission