Sunday, January 30, 2011

How to make your own incense

Making incense, both loose and cone types, is fun and rewarding. Loose incense--the easier type to make--works with self-igniting charcoal or, using a pair of tongs, you can pull a small chunk of hot coal from the fire and place it in a small heat-resistant dish. Add pinches of your natural, herbal incense to the hot coal and let it smolder. Loose incense is perfect for sacred ceremonies or whenever you want a brief, aromatic burn. You can find many of the following ingredients in your garden, meadow and woods. For the more exotic ingredients such as salt petre and resins, visit an online shop such as Mountain Rose Herbs or Essential Herbals.

These are three of my favorite loose incense blends:

A Crone’s Herbal Charm
Rosemary for clear thinking
Lavender & roses for love and healing
Cedarwood for ancient wisdom
Mugwort for psychic vision and dream recall
Witchhazel for protection of the home

Blend with serious intent any amounts that you have on hand. When using, drop a pinch of the blend on a hot coal. The scent always makes me feel calm and close to the Goddess. This blend also works great in a charm, wrapped and tied up in a small piece of natural cloth and used as a talisman.
Vetiver herb, powdered
Patchouli herb
Orange zest
Myrrh resin

Use only a small amount of orange peel because too much will give off a bitter scent. This is an earthy, mysterious blend that I love using when meditating.

Blessing Ceremony
Sandalwood (or Cedarwood)
Myrrh resin
Orris root
Dragon’s Blood

Please remember that Sandalwood is endangered and buy or use with utmost care and respect. Even better, substitute cedarwood.

Now for the cones. Make them somewhat narrow (about ½ inch wide at the base) and no more than an inch high to help them burn consistently. My cones burn fast and smoky, and are best used outside (in a heat-resistant dish).

Earth Dance Incense

Thoroughly blend 1 Tb gum Arabic or Tragacanth in ½ cup hot water and set aside to thicken. This will be your binder.
Powder the following:
1 part pine
1 part birch
1 part patchouli
1 part benzoin resin
2 parts charcoal

Add 1 tsp. salt petre (available where incense supplies are sold) and blend well. Mix in enough gum to make a dough-like texture. Shape into small cones and let dry on wax paper, turning at least once a day for several days up to two weeks. Again, use only in a deep, heat-safe dish or censer. It sparks and burns fast.

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