Incense - Messanger of the Gods
4th May, 1999
One element that adds to any ritual or spell is the heady scent of incense. Incense has been used in religious festivals and rites for thousands of years. It has been used by most Pagan religions and is used in some Christian traditions and was used by the Jews in the Bible.
Incense served not only to add to the sacredness of an event but in early times served practical purposes as well. It helped cover the smell of animal offerings burnt in temples and in medevial times, helped to cover the smell of the congregation -(cleanliness wasn't next to Godliness back then!).
When used in religious rites it served many purposes. The heavy scent of incense let people know that they were no longer working in the mundane world, that they were taking part in a sacred event, helping to create the correct mental state. Symbolically, incense was scene as a way of carrying ones prayers to the Gods. Incense has also been used a purifying agent, used in the consecration of sacred space and sacred tools. Many Pagans use incense when they cast a circle, often carrying a smoking censor (incense burner) around the circle.
There are two main forms of incense, combustible and non-combustible. The combustible usually comes in the form of small cones. This type of incense includes potassium nitrate (salt peter). This allows the incense to be self burning, that is, burnt without the aid of charcoal blocks. This type of incense usually comes in cones or sticks.
Non-combustible incense is one favoured by many Pagans as it is easy to make and can be customised for a specific purpose. This type of incense is made using herbs, flowers, oils, woods and powders. In magick, one would select ingredients according to their magickal attribute. For example, rosemary has many attributes, including purity and cleansing. This type of incense is burned using charcoal blocks. This is a great type of incense for purifying and consecration purposes as it produces billowing clouds of smoke. It is fairly simple to make, ingredients are added to a mortar and pestle, ground and then burned.
Here are some resources to help you making your incense.
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