Four Thieves Vinegar is a blend of vinegar and herbs that is used to protect against disease (traditionally the plague, but other epidemics as well). It can also be used to ward off the spells of other witches, for general protection, repulsion and reversal, and to drive back or control your enemies.
Four Thieves Vinegar is said to have originated during the Black Plague. The four thieves robbed from the homes of the sick and dying (or sometimes from graves), without falling sick. They were eventually caught, and as a bargain to escape punishment they shared their secret for saying healthy.
Another version of this story has the thieves stealing from healthy people, being caught, and were sentenced to bury plague victims. They created this blend to survive their punishment. Some say these thieves were from a family of perfume makers, and would have had knowledge of herbs and which had antiseptic properties.
It is made by placing equal parts of sage, lavender, rosemary and thyme (one herb for each thief) into a glass bottle or jar. Then fill the jar with red wine vinegar (or a vinegar of your choice), and seal it well. The jar should be allowed to sit for at least a week, but it is ideal to make this blend on the night of the full moon, and allow it to charge until the new moon. Once each day the jar should be gently tipped upside down a few times, then left to sit again. After the herbs have steeped in the vinegar for the desired length of time, strain the herbs out of the vinegar, and again seal the vinegar into a bottle or jar.
The vinegar can be used to anoint the body, candles, or ritual items/tools. It can be added into a bath, or as a wash for the body in a shower. The blend can also be taken internally (wash fresh herbs well and pat dry if you are going to be using it in this way - research and follow food safety guidelines for making a flavored vinegar!), some say it makes a wonderful salad dressing when mixed with a bit of olive oil.
Sometimes other herbs are used in this blend. In later times lemon balm and mint were added to make the vinegar more sweet smelling and tasting. Garlic is another late addition, and on occasion is the only herb used. Wormwood and rue are also sometimes seen in recipes.
As the herbs may vary, so even the number of thieves can vary from location to location. Some places know this blend as Seven Thieves Vinegar, others Three Thieves. It can also be simply known as Thieves Vinegar, or Grave Robbers Blend.