Friday, July 16, 2010

There are basically two forms of incense:combustible and non combustible.

Non combustible incense is achieved by simply sprinkling a few pinches of dried plant material, or a blend of materials, on a smoldering charcoal block. That's a charcoal block, not a charcoal briquette used for the barbecue

Briquettes are of different composition, and give off toxic amounts
of carbon monoxide. Don't use them to burn incense! Instead, occult supply stores, and many novelty shops carry a supply of raw charcoal blocks for this purpose.

While we're in a cautious mode, let it be said that you should always burn incense in some type censor. It could be a censor purchased just for this purpose, or a ceramic dish laid with a few inches of sand or salt. Sometimes the sweet aroma of dried plant material can change dramatically when burned!

You'll need to experiment with blends you may already have in mind, or to discover
new ones. And, by using the no combustible method, your mistakes, if any, will be short lived.

I would also advise that you sample mixtures on smoldering charcoal before proceeding to making them into combustible incense.

The plant material to be used should be finely ground in a food processor, blender, hand held coffee grinder, or an old fashioned mortar and pestle.

combustible incense is made in the form of sticks (sometimes called joss-sticks), bricks, or cones.

Whatever the volume and shape, combustible incense is always made with potassium nitrate, better known as salt peter. This helps the incense to burn well, and evenly.

You can find potassium nitrate in nearly any drug store, although you may have to ask the pharmacist for it.

You will need thin wooden splints or skewers, such as thin, straight twigs, or cocktail skewers.

Each stick is dipped into the incense base until covered. They are then allowed to dry standing on end, perhaps by poking them into a slab of clay, or a pot of dirt or sand.

This process is repeated until a satisfactory amount of layers have built up on each stick.

Block incense is made by rolling out the final mixture on wax paper to a 1/4 inch thickness, much like cookie dough. Then cut into 1 inch squares and allow to dry thoroughly.

And there you have it! Not so tough, Now, on to some recommended blends, the first of which is an ancient blend indeed.

Kyphi is an ancient Egyptian formula

"its aromatic substances lull to sleep, allay anxieties, and brighten the dreams. It is made of things that delight most in the night and exhibits its virtues by night."

The following is a traditional recipe for making Kyphi. If you want to stick to it fine, but you may also omit or substitute certain herbs if some of the ingredients are difficult to obtain.

Place 1/4 cup raisins in a bowl. Add just enough white wine to cover the raisins, cover loosely with a tea towel or cheesecloth, and allow to steep for seven days.

On the third day, blend equal parts of the following powdered herbs in a bit of white wine: Juniper,
Acacia, Henna, Sweet Sedge Root. After two days drain and reserve any liquid.

On the last day, drain the raisin mixture, reserving the liquid. In a small bowl mix together equal parts of the following ground herbs: Calamus, Gum Mastic, Peppermint, Bay Laurel, Orris, Cinnamon, and Galangal. Set aside.

In another small bowl blend together

1 tbls. powdered myrrh, and 1 tbls. clove honey. To this mixture add the ground herbs, and the raisins and herbs steeped in wine. Blend well. Add a little of the reserved wine if the mixture becomes too dry. Follow the directions for making cone or block incense.

INCENSE cones and blocks

This incense is used in many rituals and is a common spell component.
It is an incense of increase that is deceivingly easy to make.
Use all of your focus and energy, your will and intention, while making this scent.
It is used over charcoals (the one's specifically made for incense) or over a ritual fire.

CAUTION! Warning! If used over a ritual fire, flames will leap up along the dust trail of this incense powder! There will be sparkling (sparks) of incense outside of this trail of flames as well! This is an impressive effect, but dangerous if you are not practiced at it! Start out small and toss about 1 teaspoon of it over the glowing coals or flames, all at once, don't trail the dust or sprinkle it. Stand away from the fire, and upwind.

Use in areas that do not require burn permits, and have something to
douse the fire nearby. Do not use if you are wearing gauzy or loose ritual robes and costumes.

Within the three days prior to the actual full moon, but not after! Gather the ingredients required, along with a pestle and mortar to blend them in.

If desired, you can use your cauldron, and some sort of crushing or mixing tool.

1 ounce (about 30 grams) of the finest sandalwood powder you can find (santalum album)

5 grams (a marble sized nugget) of amber resin, NOT the stone! The soft, sweet
smelling resin that is often imported from India, available at health food stores,
and of course herb and Witch shops.

3 drops of vanilla essential oil. NOT the perfume or fragrance oil, only
true vanilla from the orchid (Vanilla planifolia or Vanilla aromatica) If this is cost prohibitive or unavailable, use real vanilla extract available at most any grocery store.

Preferably outside, under the actual full moon,
or indoors near a window where the moon is visible:
Fill the mortar or cauldron with the sandalwood powder, and crush the amber
into it with the pestle or tool of your choice. Use clockwise or deosil blending motions.

Focus on the energy of the full moon, or if you are making the incense for a specific spell,

focus on the goal of that spell alone. You can incorporate your favorite words of power or chant while doing this.

When the powder is smooth and consistent, add the vanilla, one drop at a time while saying your chosen words of power, (which is best) or the following (which will suffice in most cases):

Drop of moon, grant my boon.

Blend in the drops in the same way you blended in the amber resin. Place the mixture in a clear glass jar with an airtight lid. Keep it away from heat, sunlight, and moisture.

Charge it under the light of the full moon on the three days prior to it becoming actually full.

The full moon light penetration is the reason for not storing this in an opaque jar.
It is ready for use immediately, but can be charged more if desired.

Gum tragacanth (or use gum Arabic as a substitute) is made into a glue, and acts as a binding agent.

It is the key ingredient in all molded incense. To make the glue, place a teaspoon of the ground gum in a glass of warm water and mix completely until dispersed.

A foam may rise, but it can be easily redistributed, or skimmed off if it gets in your way.

(The gum is unbelievably absorbent! A mere
ounce will absorb up to one full gallon of water in a single week!)

your gum mixture to absorb the glass of water until it thickens to a paste.
Now you will need to create your incense base. An incense base is made up of talcum powder, sawdust, ground spice, dried herbs and flowers, or any combination thereof.

Once you have defined your base, an essential oil may be added for additional scent, the potassium nitrate is blended in, and finally, the gum-glue.

Here's a sample mixture for cone incense:
--6 parts powdered sandalwood or cedar 2 parts benzoin 1 part orris root
--3-5 parts ground herb mixture of choice 6 drops essential herbal oil of choice

Mix the first four ingredients until well blended. Add the essential oil (or combination of oils) and mix with your hands until you have a fine, crumbly mixture.

Add the dried herb mixture and mix again. Now add 10% potassium nitrate (KNO3). In other words, use a ratio of 10:1.

If you've made 10 oz. of incense base, then add 1 oz. of KNO3.
Next comes the addition of the glue mixture.

Add one teaspoon at a time, mixing with your hands as you go. Add only enough of the glue to achieve the consistency of model clay or play dough from the entire mixture.

On a piece of waxed paper, shape the mixture into small cone shapes (just like the store bought ones you're already familiar with) and allow them to dry for a week in a cool, dry place.

The area you choose to dry the incense cones in must be free of moisture in order to dry thoroughly.

By following the sample recipe given, you can also make stick incense.
Although, this requires much more patience and tenacity than making any other form.
Plan to spend the better part of a day in making these.


Wendy the (Very) Good Witch said...

Ooh...I do love me some incense, and I've always wondered how to burn the dried plant material. Now I know thanks to you. I will begin my search for one of those charcoal bricks starting tomorrow! Thanks!