Back when our coven was in its infancy, we had a ritual planned to celebrate a handfasting for two of our members, Nightshade and White Jasmine. The day was hectic from the moment we woke up and it only got worse as ritual time approached. We had been driving and hiking around for hours ahead of time collecting the requested fresh wildflowers from the local countryside. We were decorating the circle, providing floral bouquets and crowns for the celebrants, dressing the altar, trees, and our stang with our local beauty, so we kept going until the back of our cargo van filled with various colors and types of flowers with different properties.
Upon arriving home, we realized that we were running even further behind schedule than we had realized, so everything became a blur of activity. I started preparing, rolling out, and baking the dough of the cakes I had put into the fridge overnight to chill. Hot water was set to boil for our teas. Azrael got our permanent outdoor altar stone, which stayed under the trees in the front yard, freshly cleansed and dressed with bright flowers. He decorated the stang with wreaths of flowers and placed it in its place behind the altar. He started getting our extra robes set out for visitors to the celebration as well as helping to watch our young toddler, when he could, between trips outside.
While cakes were baking, I was gathering our ritual items and setting them beside the smaller front room altar for easy transport outdoors. During which, I noticed we had run out of our “pre-cut” anointing blend we used to greet coven members in through the circle once the door was opened. I opened our altar cabinet and pulled out the main case containing our special recipe blended oils and added a bit of our personal ritual anointing oil blend to the beautiful hand-thrown clay bottle a friend of ours had made for us. As I glanced back into the oils cabinet, I saw that our soft “base oil” was not where it belonged. I had no idea where it had been moved to and was going to have to hunt it down. Unfortunately, right then, the oven timer dinged to let me know that the previous batch of cakes was ready and the next batch needed to be put in.
I ran back to the kitchen and got them switched around, planning to add the cutting oil before we started, since I did not have time to find the base and cut it right then. As such, I had left the bottle sitting on the opposite side of the marble altar across from the rest of the items to be transported outdoors. Unfortunately, at that point, Crow arrived and Az returned with the blood red, sweet roses I had asked him to run and fetch from his mother’s bushes up the road. I started in immediately on getting the petals candied, while waiting for the tea to steep and the next batch of cakes to come out of the oven. Gone was any thought of cutting the oil back for topical use.
I was so easily distracted at the time by our very young toddler, being almost to due date with our twins who fought constantly and continually slapping Crow’s hand because he kept eating all the rose petals as fast as I was I was making them.
My hubby did not know to cut the oil because he was too busy running in and out for me to remember to tell him about it. Between setting the altar, dressing the stang, and preparing the area by removing twigs and rocks, which would make stumbling in circle easy after nightfall, he was a constant blur of movement that day.
During this time, the rest of the coven was arriving, and I was assigning tasks to get the circle dressed with flowers, weave crowns, gather flowers into bouquets and wrap with ribbon, preparing the refreshment area and finishing the tea blends, watching as Az was getting the bonfire set up and lighting it, etc. so, I thought about cutting the oil… not at all.
When the time came and the rites began, the oil bottle was sitting innocently to the side of the altar in its normal place. We prepared and called the circle according to ritual. The HP and I anointed each other as the rite called for before opening the doorway and inviting in the celebrants. I anointed everyone with their preferred holy symbol, as we were an eclectic group at that time and a variety of symbols were called for. After which, everyone took their places inside the circle and we began our Handfasting rite.
Just over halfway through the ceremony, I noticed that my forehead had started itching, a bit, but I thought nothing of it. It continued to get worse throughout the rest of the ceremony. Suddenly, I noticed that others were rubbing at their foreheads as well. Horror struck as I realized what had happened. As we were nearing time for the happy couple to jump the broom, I decided not to interrupt the end of the ritual, as I could feel the damage was already done and it was nearing time to close the circle anyway.
As soon as we had completed the closing of the ceremony, I advised everyone to run inside and wash their foreheads quickly and thoroughly, but, of course, it was too late. For the next few days to a week, as we worked in the shop and as we, and the others, went about town, we all laughed when we were asked about the oddly shaped rashes on our foreheads. It has become a favorite memory now that the itch and burn has gone. Fortunately, I had the most sensitive skin in the bunch, which I thought was fitting punishment for my mistake. My rash ended up lasting the longest and, by far, looking the worst of the bunch.
That was the last time I ever tried filling a bottle with any type of oil prior to having literally every, single item I was going to need in front of me from the beginning of the process. It was a very itchy and painful lesson, perhaps, but certainly a lasting one!