Ereshkigal: Oil of Ash

This article comes to us from an amazing witch and collaborator, Tania Ciolek. It is deep, dark, and gets us right where we need to be! ~ Kaycee

This month, as part of a collaboration with Kaycee and Dark Goddess Collective, I was given the opportunity to create an incredibly special and potent Oil of Ash for the purpose of energetically aligning with Ereshkigal. With this blend we can safely make the journey that leads to standing before Her, stripped to the bone. We are getting Down to the Bones, right?

This is the time for descension with purpose. For shedding with intention. As the trees shed and the leaves decay, they provide safe harbor to the insects and nutrients to the soil, we too, can gain restoration and regeneration by releasing and allowing ourselves to be nurtured by the muck of our sacrifice.

Ereshkigal reminds us that death and life are intimately connected. Death card from The Muse Tarot by Chris Anne. Photo by Tania Ciolek 


As we prepare to commune with Ereshkigal, what we are really preparing for is a personal descension to the depths of the underworld, The Land of the Dead, known as Irkalla to the ancient Babylonians. In this space we come face to face with the Queen of Ash and Bone. But first, we must pass through the 7 gates of the underworld, and as even Inanna learned in her descent; each gate demands a sacrifice. For us, the sacrifice is shedding our outer layers, peeling back our skin while embracing courage and the willingness to expose ourselves fully, to be bare boned in the presence of the Mother of Death. This brave act gives us access to the rich marrow of our souls.  

Ereshkigal from The British Museum

A Couple of Things 

The Oil of Ash is a micro-batch. It’s small for the simple reason that you don’t need a lot.  We’re only using 1 Tablespoon of oil. Use small amounts for each ingredient, about a large pinch.  When you use the finished oil, a little dab will do ya (bonus points to anyone who remembers that commercial). 

There is ash in this concoction, it is meant to be a visible application.

It is meant to be muddy and thick.

Take care where and when you apply.  

Let me get the usual disclaimer out of the way: Please research any and all herbs before you use them. Check with your healthcare provider if you have any questions. Perform a patch test on your inner wrist to make sure you won’t have any kind of skin reaction.  

Lastly, don’t stress about the ingredients, there’s always a substitute and if you don’t have it and can’t get it, leave it out. It will be ok. This is ultimately your magic; you get to decide.  

Let your bones guide you as you add each small amount. 

What You Will Need 

  • Fireproof bowl
  • Lighter (preferably a long lighter)
  • Mortar and pestle 
  • Small container
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil  

A large pinch/heaping teaspoon of the following (substitutions in parenthesis): 

  • Cypress (Arborvitae, Cedar, Juniper, Oak) You have a lot of wiggle room here and small piece is all you need. Arborvitae and Juniper are in the same family as Cypress and will work well for the purpose. Oak is also a good substitute. *Tip: if you have a fresh piece, you can place it in the oven on a very low temperature (around 220) and check on it every few minutes until it is dry enough to burn. Don’t leave it unattended.  
  • Blue Lotus (Mugwort) Blue lotus is born of mud, the blooming flower represents the purified soul that has overcome limitation to reach a state of truth. Mugwort can be substituted. 
  • Peppermint  
  • Pomegranate I like to keep things as simple as possible. I was out of dried pomegranate seeds (which I swore I had) so I used a bit of dried Pomegranate skin. Adaptability is a gift of the witch. 
  • Myrrh (Patchouli or Copal)  
  • Basil  
  • Lavender 
  • Onion Skin (Garlic Skin) 
A pinch of each plant I will be using hanging out with the bones. 

The Process 

  • Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a small dish or jar and set aside. 

For the rest, a small amount is all you’ll need. Remember, this is a tiny, yet potent blend. 

  • In your mortar and pestle (or your preferred method of grinding herbs) begin with the Cedar, break it up as fine as you can. Next add the Basil, Pomegranate, Blue Lotus, Peppermint, Lavender, and Myrrh. Slowly grind and mix, spend time with the herbs, listen to them, sing or chant to Ereshkigal as you grind. Whatever you do, get into it; feel, groove, merge. When you feel it’s ready, it’s ready. 

These first 7 plants are symbolic of the 7 gates we pass to reach Ereshkigal.  

  • Using your hands, tear the onion skin into pieces and mix with the other ingredients.  

The onion skin represents you, the layers you are removing through each gate, the layers of healing, the layers of skin that must be shed to get to the bone. 

  • Take a small pinch of this blend and add to the container with the olive oil. 
  • For the remainder, we’re gonna burn it.  

As a side note, I experimented looking for the best (and easiest) way to burn the plant matter and I found that burning extra small amounts at a time in a fireproof bowl worked best for me. It’s a slow process but allowed me to get into the vibe. You could use a small amount of charcoal to burn the herbs. As long as you burn, then collect the ash, use any method you like.

  • Once burned and cooled, (fire safety always!) place the ash in the mortar and pestle and give it a good grind then mix it with the olive oil herb blend.

The ash is an important symbol of burning away or bringing death to what’s holding us back. By using both ash and whole material we are creating a balance between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

This oil is formulated to keep us protected and alert in both worlds.

It has the ability to give us that push of courage to seek Ereshkigal and the strength of will to walk through the gates, sacrifice what we must, and stand before Her. The Oil of Ash will help with the release while planting the seeds of rebirth. It will also help us descend and assist in our ascension. These are the intentions you want to hold while creating your oil.

Above all, Oil of Ash is an offering to Ereshkigal. Great Mother of the Underworld, Queen of the Great Earth, Queen of the Great Below, Queen of the Dead, Sovereign of the Dark Irkalla. Chant her many names as you weave the pieces together.

  • Once you’ve added the ash, give it a good stir and cover with a black cloth until you are ready to use.

Final Notes

To embrace the sacred serpent, we must recognize and reclaim the serpent within, as the snake sheds so must we. It isn’t the most comfortable state to be in, stripped bare, raw and exposed, the blazing eyes of the Sovereign of Irkalla upon us. This is where we face our actions and our choices, good and bad, and take ownership with love, grace and mercy. This how we stand in our sovereignty. Oil of Ash will aid us in this process.

If the smell of ash is very uncomfortable for you, add 1 drop of peppermint or lavender essential oil to the finished product.

Watch your dreams after experimenting with this blend. In my own experience my dreams became very lucid after anointing. Keep a journal nearby to write down what may come up.

Holy Ereshkigal! Great is your renown!

Holy Ereshkigal! I sing your praises!

(Last line in the story of Inanna’s Descent – Wolkstein &Kramer, 89)

Into the Dark,

Tania Ciolek

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