Feature Image: ©Columbia Pictures / Diltz / Bridgeman Images
Amid a swathe of tribal fertility idols, leopard-lined cloaks, and a cabaret singer imported from Montmartre, she holds court, lounging in wait like a great feline in the stillness before the hunt.
An incandescent, natural beauty glowing like a rare gem against a backdrop of decaying beatnik bohemia, she is at once a restless force of nature and a creature somehow entirely, alluringly detached. This bewitching combination captured my attention as a young girl, speaking to me as even my most beloved sorceresses had not, for Gillian Holroyd—the ultra glam main character of the 1958 film Bell, Book and Candle, played by Kim Novak—was different.
This was no wise crone of the wood, nor a fickle fairy maiden, but a satin-heeled, soigné bombshell whose lean figure was elegantly, expertly draped in the couture of the day as interpreted by the iconic Jean Louis, the French designer who set Hollywood alight with his singularly glamorous gowns. She was enigmatic: modern, with a free-spirited independence and the need to answer to no one, with the carriage of an ancient, regal goddess who was simply too cool to feel the need to beg admiration.
A powerful witch, she cast her spell, yes … but really, she never had to. Stretching like a panther in a backless velvet column gown, a ruby serpent coiled around her wrist, a nudge from the tip of a satin pump was all that was needed to stir the curiosity (not to mention the fervent passion) in a certain “regular” guy she simply had to have.
Her cognac kiss sealed his fate and, ultimately, her own. I used to loathe the way the story ended, but over the years I’ve come to see its lesser noticed point: Gillian didn’t give up anything, really, for true love. It may have seemed that way on the surface, but what she discarded no longer meant what it once had to her. So she moved on. She didn’t allow anyone’s perception of her to keep her caged where she no longer desired to be.
And so, to honor Gillian’s decisions that freed her spirit and changed her life in the way she wished, I’ve conjured this first potion as a love spell—to yourself. Anoint every inch of your heavenly body with its sensual sorcery and revel in the confidence it brings, to remind yourself of your own power, your own choices, and a life of beauty and love that you fully deserve. It is heavily infused with Venusian charms, age-defying beauty powers, and an intoxicating scent. Oh, and it includes a little bit of cat magic for darling Pyewacket. After all, a witch needs her familiar.
Body Oil | Conjures approximately 3 ounces
2.5 ounces cold pressed avocado oil
2 sticks cinnamon
Seeds of one vanilla bean
½ teaspoon organic catnip, dried
6 drops jasmine absolute
6 drops myrrh essential oil
2 drops cinnamon essential oil (optional)
Fill a gorgeous bottle three-quarters of the way with avocado oil. Gently arrange the cinnamon sticks inside, then carefully scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the potion. If you don’t have fresh vanilla bean, do not substitute extract intended for baking. Instead, source a good quality essential oil online or in your local shop. Sprinkle or place the catnip into the bottle, depending on its source—I love to take a whole piece, stem and all, and add it to potions. Add the jasmine and myrrh. Give it all a good, sexy swirl in a clockwise direction. If you are adding the cinnamon oil, do it now. (If you’re uncertain, test a small diluted patch on your skin to see if you’re sensitive—if so, the cinnamon sticks will suffice.) This potion marinates well during a waxing moon cycle, though it is powerful at any time. If possible, create it on the new moon and allow it to grow in potency until the full moon, then use it with wild abandon! As with all potions, be sure to connect with each ingredient, honoring it as you visualize and feel the energy working.
Rich and sensual, avocado oil has long been associated with beauty and love magic. Ripe with good fats, this Venusian gem is an excellent moisturizer high in vitamin E, fighting the signs of aging and feeding your skin while soothing inflammation and breakouts. It is also a noted aphrodisiac.
Amorous cinnamon ignites the fires of both love and money, while cleansing and increasing circulation to your skin. The increased blood flow brings life to the cells for a glowing radiance.
This delightful vine wafts in sensually by way of Venus, heavy on the love and sexual magic. Its heady aroma and flavor intoxicates, and its aphrodisiac powers are legendary. Vanilla is also rich in copper, which helps promote collagen and elastic production. It soothes, protects from environmental stresses, and carries an enchanted scent.
What could be nicer than an herb that makes cats happy? Ruled by Venus and sacred to Bast, this one, naturally, brings love, beauty, and joy to felines and humans alike with its magic and its delightful scent. Used for calming nerves, catnip also has a mild sedative effect and acts as an anti-inflammatory for skin.
Known as the queen of the night, sensual jasmine is an intoxicating aphrodisiac that knows a thing about beauty. A brilliant oil for reducing fine lines and strengthening skin’s elasticity, jasmine also helps fade scars and hyperpigmentation.
The female consort of frankincense is surely lovely, lunar myrrh. It has a similar high spiritual vibration to its solar partner, also bringing potent healing and protective energy. Revered in ancient Egypt, myrrh possesses potent age-defying beauty properties.
Now, of course, Gillian’s detractors helped her along the way, as often they do. Some meant well, some did not, and others still fervently held on to their own identities by way of someone else’s existence. There’s the adorably daft Aunt Queenie, forgetful as she is sweet, cat-clever as she is confused, and charming to no end. And then the envious Madame de Passe, a force of nature in her own right, but one who relishes the chance to outdo the younger, feather-ruffling Gillian. Both ladies had indisputable strengths but also a few flawed notions. I’ve harnessed each of their powers here and added a little bit of balance to help when things feel unsteady.
Queenie’s Potion aids in sharpening memory, mental clarity, and focus, while Madame’s provides healing and protection in among all the hex-breaking. May they all assist you in following your heart, finding your true powers, and calling your desires forth with protection and wisdom wrapped around you like an exquisite cloak—velvet, of course.
Bath Blend | Per treatment
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, or ¼ cup dried
3 large bay leaves
¼ cup dried lavender
6 drops cedarwood essential oil
3 drops vetiver essential oil
2 drops bay essential oil (optional)
You could approach this one of two ways: The first would be to use all the ingredients to create a sachet; the second, to use all essential oils instead. I prefer a bit of both. I like to form a sachet with the dried herbs and flowers, then douse with the oils before tying up. You can use a cotton or hemp tea bag, a bit of cheesecloth, or—my fave—a small piece of lace fabric, then tie it all up with a ribbon or cord. You can then either attach it to the faucet so the water runs through it, or pop it in the water once the bath is filled. I like to put it in the water, then add more essential oils straight into the bath. Then I like to use the sachet as a bath sponge, if you will. Actually, what I really love is lying back with all the herbs and flowers floating loosely, swirling around me. It feels like I’m bathing outdoors in pure magic and truly connecting with nature. But I know not everyone will love damp flora on their skin, nor the necessary cleanup. Either way, hold your visuals and feelings strongly as you relax in warm, fragrant waters. Allow your intuition and psychic space to open up, your mental prowess to strengthen and focus, and feel the protective, healing vibrations of the water.
This favorite arrives bearing love, healing, intellect, and youth. It offers these palpable gifts but also the ability to increase cellular metabolism to boost circulation, stimulating mystical prowess and firm skin.
Nibbled by ancient Greek priestesses to read prophecy, bay has long been a magical herb of clairvoyance and wisdom. Also used for protection, healing, and strength, it is antiseptic and astringent when used in topical potions. Plus it’s a great muscle soother, with a spicy, uplifting scent that promotes feelings of well-being, enhanced creativity, and confidence.
Solar-powered cedarwood provides healing and grounding, locked inside the wisdom of the forest. A tree of purification, it also holds money magic.
A time-tested witches’ herb, vetiver brings luck and abundance, and protects that considerable wealth (in all its forms) you are amassing. Its earthy, lushly wooded aroma calls in the green spirits.
Lunar-ruled lavender soothes, calms anxious nerves, and brings peace. It also makes a fantastic yet gentle skin treatment thanks to its antibacterial powers. Known as elf leaf, it holds powers of love, peacefulness, protection, and longevity—not surprising given its namesake!
Madame De Passe’s Potion
Brew | Per serving
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
¼ cup blackberries
¼ cup apple
Pinch of cloves, ground
Grind of black pepper
Maple syrup or stevia, as desired
Mmm … you will love this deliciously spiced, creamy brew as it heats up gently in the cauldron and its scented magic fills the air. Place the coconut milk, berries, and apple in a bullet-style blender, and pulse until completely smooth. Pour it into a small saucepan and gently warm it until it reaches a pleasurable, soothing temperature. Stir in the cloves, pepper, and sweetener to taste. Maple syrup makes a decadent, delightful addition brimming with minerals. If you avoid sugars altogether, stevia makes a good, plant-powered alternative. Prepare and sip this with intention, of course, bringing forth healing, protection, cleansing, and a dose of love and beauty magic—because, why ever not?
Ruled by Venus, this sexy berry carries not only her beauty magic but that of abundance, creation, healing, and protection. Voluptuous with antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and vitamins—most notably vitamin C—blackberries refine and feed the skin while revving the all-important cell-renewal process. Their deep hue ensures vibrant Jing energy, so vital to our inner and outer radiance.
Said to give perpetual youth to the gods, apples were revered throughout the ancient world as offerings to beauty, love, and lust. Ruled by Venus and sacred to Freya, they also are potent bringers of peace, healing, and vibrant health. Not to mention rich in nutrients and antioxidants.
This oft-overlooked spice soothes pain and stiffness, and eases anxiety and stress, while the warming quality improves circulation, boosting cell regeneration and collagen production, which helps decrease the appearance of fine lines. It also allows your skin to heal blemishes and bruises more quickly and has the benefit of protection, healing, and purification by way of fire magic.
Decadently spicy, Jupiter-ruled clove oil kills bacteria and clarifies skin while conjuring love, money, and protection magic. It is even used in exorcism.
Sweet, buttery coconut oil is known for its beautifying fats but is also a bacteria-fighting warrior that prevents viruses and other harmful pathogens from attacking. This lunar-ruled gem also purifies and heightens both spirituality and psychic awareness.
Alise Marie is the author of The Beauty Witch’s Secrets: Recipes and Rituals for the Modern Goddess available wherever books are sold. Find her at thebeautywitch.com and on Instagram @thebeautywitchofficial.