Incense and Magick
Burning incense is a tradition that dates back thousands of years, in practically all of earth’s ancient civilizations, and is well known
for it’s mood-altering qualities. The word Incense is derived from the Latin verb incendere, ‘to burn’.
It has been used to accompany prayer, to worship the Gods, purify the air, release negative vibrations, induce self-awareness and to uplift
the emotional state.
There are many references to incense in the Old and New Testament and the Roman Catholics still use incense at mass and in many other of their
rituals. It symbolizes the sacredness of a person or occasion, and their prayer as it rises to God.
When Jesus was born, frankincense, myrrh and gold were presented as gifts to the newborn infant. In Hindu tradition incense plays a very
important role as the aroma contributes to providing the most favorable atmosphere for meditation and prayer.
In the worship of their Deities, incense is considered essential for any offering, so during the daily worship at their altars, Indian
families offer incense, candles and flowers as a mark of devotion. It has been explained that ‘our actions in our lives should give happiness
to others, just as the incense stick gives off a beautiful smell’.
The Ancient Egyptians used incense in many of their temple rituals; they believed it purified both the worshipped and their worshippers.
It was said to drive away evil spirits while simultaneously attracting the gods. The tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes
was discovered with huge quantities of perfumes, oils and incense surrounding his mummy. Each incense had a specific purpose and effect such
as Frankincense, which was regarded as ‘sustenance for the gods’.
In the ancient Sanskrit texts, there are many beautiful descriptions of festive occasions when incense was burned in the homes and streets,
delighting the residents of the city ‘at every step’. Fragrant waters were also used to spray the thoroughfares and scented garlands of
flowers adorned and decorated buildings and entranceways. The aromas created by these delightful activities were enough to ‘fill the heart
with euphoria and uplift the mind to its highest state’.
In the Buddhist tradition incense has always been used to accompany their meditations, to induce self-awareness and free them of negative
states. It is associated with living with wisdom and compassion, gently permeating the world with their God-like qualities, just as incense
wafts and permeates the atmosphere.
Each different fragrance has its own vibration, so incense can be selected to assist with mood enhancement, to help you feel good; soothing
and uplifting – to reduce stressful situations, and to assist with personal development. It is also excellent to burn whilst saying
affirmations, to raise your consciousness and purify the atmosphere in which you live. Most people choose their incense ‘from their heart’,
thus allowing for intuition to guide them for their ‘highest good’. Therefore, incense plays a very important role in creating a healthy
environment in which those people seeking wisdom and truth can ‘tune in’ to their ‘purpose in life’.
There are many varieties of aromas within the incense world, some with a 'single note', such as jasmine, sandalwood or tuberose. Oriental
blends tend to be hot, spicy and sweet and complex floral harmonies are a blend of several floral notes together. The ever-popular earthy
tone of patchouli is a warm fragrance and is often used more in winter, to warm the heart and home; whereas the delightful, youthful fragrance
of strawberry is commonly enjoyed on a spring morning, when the sun is spreading its healing rays.
Perfumes are described as 'notes', similar to the notes on a piano, each note with it's own 'melody'. There are the 'top' notes, which are
the initial scent that you will smell in an incense, perhaps when you take a stick out of it's packet for the first time, and often when you
first light the stick. The top note is usually high, strong and sweet, but very short-lasting. (It is also quite euphoric and uplifting)
These top notes fade very quickly and are referred to as low-persistence; much like a 100 yard dash!
The 'middle' note has quite a bit more persistence - more like running the mile and is often quite different to the top note. After the
incense has been burning for a short while you can usually detect the middle note; it is the most predominant melody - keeps the whole thing
swinging. Sometimes the middle note is a blend of the top note and the base note.
The 'base' note is Mr. Marathon J- the Grand Finale! It is long-lasting, very persistent and keeps the whole combination humming. (The base
note is what you will smell even after the incense has been finished for quite some time.) Usually the base note is very woody or earthy and
helps to bring out peaceful, contented feelings; it's cozy qualities really help create inner harmony.
As you can imagine, all of these notes are essential for an incense to create that perfect atmosphere and provide the strength that you need.
Make sure that your fragrances have an excellent balance of all three notes to provide you with the best quality
Make your own Incense: Wisdom Incense
1/3 Cup Cinnamon Powder
1/3 Cup Frankincense Resin
1/3 Cup Sandalwood Powder
1/8 Cup Lavender (herb)
2 Drops of Cinnamon Oil
5 Drops of Myrrh Oil
Making up your own personal incenses, add an extra dimension to your magickal workings. Try experimenting with your own mixtures.
Use your intuition, allow your senses to guide you, choosing what is appropriate for your needs, or for others needs if you offer to
make blends for them.