The Everyday Lore Project

6 February 2020 – Liza Frank and the Philosopher’s Stone, Part 1

6 February 2020 – Liza Frank and the Philosopher’s Stone, Part 1

Today, because it’s Thursday, I started making a Philosopher’s Stone. Thursday is an auspicious day for such things because it’s said that lemon balm, the chief ingredient, is ruled by Jupiter, who in turn rules Thursdays, plus you’re supposed to start the process just after dawn, and February’s dawns are at a sensible hour, hence today was the best Thursday I could find. And a vegetable Philosopher’s Stone, the type I’m making, is said to help improve health (good for winter) and open you up to a higher spiritual awareness (and I think it’s safe to say, I need help in this area).

The first bit is relatively easy, just pound some lemon balm into dust while thinking good thoughts, pop it in a jar, add some booze, put it somewhere warm, and Bob’s your lobster. So standing in my freezing cold kitchen at 7.30am, I assembled jars, vodka, lemon balm (or Melissa officinalis if we’re being fancy), and a pestle and mortar. I also decided that a banging soundtrack was needed to grind along to, so I put on Cuz I Love You by Lizzo, and got pounding. There was also a thought at the back of my mind that if I forgot to concentrate on releasing the lemon balm’s cosmic energy, Lizzo could empower it instead. Besides, a pestle makes for a perfect microphone should one wish to sing along to Jerome, for example.

However, after 7mins of hard grinding on the first lemon balm batch, I cheated. I’m not saying that had the old alchemists possessed a coffee grinder attachment on their food processors they would have done the same, it’s just that there’s nothing mystical about getting a blister on your palm. So three quick and painless batches later, my jar was finally a third full. Now, I can’t say that the smell of lemon balm is particularly pleasant, not very lemony and not very fresh, but I have to say it is preferable to the smell of vodka that early in the morning. I topped up the jar to halfway, covered the top with clingfilm so the alcohol fumes wouldn’t react with the metal lid, and then sealed it. Coincidence that Lizzo was singing ‘big dick energy’ as I was closing it up? Then not having an airing cupboard to keep it warm, I lodged it under my desk next to the radiator where it will sit until tomorrow when hopefully I will start part two (depending on how green the vodka goes, although it does look pretty sludgy already).

I have a huge suspicion that I’ve been too conservative with my portions so might not have anything to show for my troubles at the end of the process (the recipe wasn’t very precise with its measurements, but I should have cottoned on my jar was too small when I didn’t use nearly as much vodka as they suggested). But this is not a total calamity as I completely overordered on the lemon balm so have enough for several do overs. Plus I forgot to offer up a prayer right at the beginning asking that the mysteries of the world be revealed to me (I never could get the hang of Thursdays). We shall see. Stay tuned. 

And if you’ve not caught up on yesterday‘s brief shenanigans, there’s a quiz at the end. I’ll be revealing the answer at some point, although you may have to remind me….

Just added the vodka


Carr-Gomm, P. and Heygate, R. (2014) The Book of English Magic, London, Hodder

Leendertz, L. (2019) The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2020, London, Mitchell Beazley

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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