1) When working with resins such as frankincense and myrrh it works well if you place the resins in the freezer for a short while before beating them.
2) Some people use blenders to grind the resins/ingredients into fine powder, however, this destroys the scent of the resins. It is best to beat all ingredients by hand in the mortar and pestle. It takes longer but the results will be worth the extra effort.
3) Grind or beat each ingredient separately. Blend all dry ingredients first and then add the soft resins such as galbanum, elemi and storax.
4) Use gloves to mix/knead the incense ingredients together.
5) Allow the freshly made incense to cure prior to burning.
A Note On Burning Charcoal
To start you should have something in which to burn the incense, a heatproof container, and that should ideally have some sand in the bottom. Next, take a charcoal disk and hold it with a pair of pliers or tongs and hold it over the flame of a candle or you can use a flame lighter but don’t use a match as when the charcoal ‘takes’ it will burn your fingers.
The charcoal will sputter and spatter all over the place, so make sure you do this on a protective surface. When the main spluttering stops, take a look and part of the charcoal disk should be glowing slightly red in the middle and going ash coloured round the edges of where the flame was. This means the block is now lit.
Now repeat this exercise a few times with the same disk, moving it around in the candle flame until a fair bit of it is lit. At this point it is VERY HOT so do not touch it at all, and you will now understand why you have it in pliers or tongs. Now blow on it gently, and then place it hot side UP in the container with the sand. Leave the charcoal block for a few minutes to let it warm up and give it a waft of air every now and then.
When it is glowing gently, take a small pinch of your grain incense and pop it on top. It will smoke for you, lots of smoke. Too much incense and you can smother the disk and get a pathetic wisp of smoke. Too little and it burns off too fast. This is a practice thing, which you will learn in time. Add incense according to how much smoke you want. If you get a gooey blob on top of the charcoal disk a bit later, use a metal spoon (teaspoon) to scrape the gooey stuff to the side to give you room to add some more incense. Let the charcoal disk breathe for a second or two before adding more incense. And remember, when you are done, let it cool where it is, or else carefully carry the lot outside and leave it to cool there.
I will concentrate on making noncombustible incense for it is the easiest to make and the most widely used. Noncombustible incense is sprinkled onto burning charcoal blocks to release its fragrance, whereas combustible incense contains potassium nitrate (saltpeter) and is burned in the form of bricks, sticks, cones, etc.
Make sure you have all the necessary ingredients to start off. If you don’t have a certain herb, don’t worry. Don’t think you have to have one herb or the whole project is a failure; that’s not true. You don’t have to have any specific recipe for something to work for you. That’s why it’s always a good idea to experiment yourself and not go strictly by a certain recipe because only you know what works best for you.
Now, finely grind each ingredient using a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder. Mortar and pestles are great but you always must check the quality of them and some things can be really hard to grind until you get it down.
Once all the ingredients are ground, concentrate on your intent. Mix the ingredients together with your hands as you visualize the intent in your mind and let it be directed in the incense as you make it. If you are using any oils or liquids in the incense, always use them last. Just a few drops are all that’s needed. Oils can also be used for any herbs you lack. As you mix the oil with the herbs, continue visualizing your goal as before. When you are done with the incense, you may empower it, which is included on another page. And then store it in a tightly capped jar and be sure to label it, including the name of the incense and possibly even the date of composition, moon phase, or anything else you’d like to add. Always be sure to burn the incense carefully.
When you are ready to use the incense, simply place a charcoal block, light the charcoal block and sprinkle your incense onto it. Always be sure to use small amounts or you may extinguish the charcoal block.
Making and burning your own incense
A heatproof dish, preferably with a heatproof lip you can carry it by. Unglazed pottery ones are good, and on sale very cheaply.
Be careful with metal dishes as they get hot. But you can buy the kind with a lid and chain to hold, I used to hate those but have now realised you can use them quite safely and it is rather good to be able to use incense outdoors, even if it is windy, by swinging the smoke in the covered censer.
You need only a small incense burner and they cost no more than a few pounds from an New age store or on the Internet. The burner is often called a thurible or censer (the kind you swing).
Charcoal discs. Charcoal is considered a gift from Mother Earth and was used frequently in the Native North American world. Its colour is a natural absorber of negative energies and as it forms ash so the redundant is transformed into Fire energy.
The easiest charcoal to work with initially is an individual disc about the size of a very large coin. This will have an indentation in the centre on which you can scatter your petals or herbs. These are really small and fit on the incense dish. Buy reasonable quality ones and keep the packet sealed so the charcoal does not get damp.
You can also sprinkle a little incense on barbecue coals or any open fire, though not while cooking.
Tongs, either metal ones form a hardware store or barbecue ones for holding the charcoal while you light it.
Long cook’s matches or a taper lit from a candle are best. You can use a long cigarette lighter if you are careful, but I always burn myself.
A small metal spoon for scooping the herbs on to the charcoal. Sometimes you can buy at a garage sale or cookware shop what are called sugar spoons, much smaller than a teaspoon.
First mix your herbs and flowers using the meanings below and from elsewhere on the site in a mortar and pestle or bowl.
You can choose as many or few herbs as you wish.
You must include at least one resin. I sometime use as little as a quarter of the total mix as resin, but the more resin you use the more intensely and longer the mix burns. Experiment with just a resin, say frankincense and then on another occasion just a pure herb, such as rosemary and in between the two you will find the right proportions for you. For this reason too, when in future I suggest mixes, then I will leave you to decide the proportions.
As you mix, chant the purpose of the incense, either faster and faster till you finish with a final call of, for example, Lavender lavender bring me love or with more than one herb in the mix, for example Cinnamon, basil, mint, you herbs three, bring I ask money fast to me.’
If the incense is for healing or to banish or protect when you have mixed and chanted as fast as you can, reduce the chant and speed of mixing till you are still and silent.
Light the charcoal disc. The very easiest way to ignite a disc is to light a long cook’s match or taper. Pick up your charcoal in tongs, so it is on its side between the tongs and light over the censer or dish.
Light one edge of the charcoal tablet and blow very gently till you see the red glow starting to spread across the charcoal.
When the charcoal begins to glow place it in the censer and continue to blow gently if you want to get moving fast. You can whisper the purpose of the incense as just before each blow .
It is sometimes hard to tell if charcoal is alight initially as it may still look dull, so do not touch it as it will be extremely hot even if it has gone out. The block will slowly turn greyish white-this is white heat .
Once the charcoal is glowing you can stop blowing and perhaps begin your ritual or simply focus on the purpose you have in mind. When the charcoal is white hot, drop just a little of the mix at first in the centre of the disc, adding grains gradually as part of the ritual. Experiment with open and lidded censers. The latter need less topping up but there is something magical about sitting outdoors with your little open burner against the sunset, chanting or singing softly and adding more herbs as the intensity of the ritual increases.
Herbs, flowers and resins to use
- Gum Arabic (acacia)
- Dragon’s blood
- Pine resin (called Collophony)
- Allspice – Money, strength, action.
- Apple Blossom – Love, fertility, optimism, inner beauty and youthfulness, rituals concerning babies and children.
- Avocado – Desire, increase of beauty in self or environment.
- Basil – Fidelity, prosperity.
- Bay – Healing, prosperity protection, marriage
- Benzoin – Money; increasing mental powers and concentration
- Bluebell – Faithfulness in love, betrothals
- Carnation – Strength, healing, family devotion
- Cedar/cedarwood – Healing, cleansing redundant influences and negative thoughts
- Chamomile – Money, quiet sleep, affection and family
- Cinnamon – Spirituality, success, healing, powers, psychic powers, money, love and passion
- Cherry – New love, divinatory abilities
- Cloves – Love, money, repelling hostility, improved memory
- Copal – Protection, purification, especially good for cleansing crystals
- Cypress – Transitions to a new phase of life, letting go of sorrow
- Dragon’s Blood – Love, protection and passion, male potency
- Ferns – An initiator of change, travel and fertility, hidden wealth, maybe in terms of potential.
- Fig – Wisdom, creativity and creation, fertility, harmony and balance.
- Frankincense – Courage, joy, strength and success
- Freesia – Increasing trust, especially after loss or betrayal, belief in for a better tomorrow.
- Gum Arabic (Acacia) – Dreams, meditation, psychic protection and development
- Heather – Passion, fidelity in love, good fortune, maximising opportunities, weather magic, especially rain making
- Honeysuckle – Money, psychic powers, protection
- Hyacinth – Overcoming position in love, happiness, desire for reconciliation
- Hyssop – For making a love commitment, for healing and all forms of protection, especially from psychic attack
- Ivy – Fidelity, married love, permanent relationships, constancy
- Jasmine – Moon magic ,prophetic dreams, sensuality, money, passion
- Juniper – Protection (from psychic attacks and from physical theft, cleansing, healing and house moves.
- Lavender – Love and reconciliation
- Lemongrass/Lemon – Repels spite, protection against malice and gossip passion, increases psychic awareness, travel
- Lilac – All domestic matters, acceptance of the frailty of self and others, cleansing negativity, domestic happiness, nostalgia.
- Lemon Verbena – Breaking a run of bad luck, love, protection against negativity,
- Lily – Purity, breaking negative influences in love. Mother Goddess magick
- Lily of the Valley – Increases mental abilities, happiness, restoration of joy
- Marigold – Dreams, guarding against infidelity, legal matters, luck, money
- Mimosa – Protection, love, prophetic dreams, purification
- Mistletoe – Known to the Druids as the All-Healer, for healing sorrows, male potency, overcoming injustice and finding what is lost.
- Moss – Good fortune, prosperity, money, permanence whether in job or relationship, Water magic and divination (good for candles on water)
- Myrtle – Sometimes mixed with other fragrances, for fidelity in love, marriage, mature love, also matters or property and security
- Myrrh – Healing, peace, protection and inner harmony
- Nutmeg – Fertility, healing especially of environment, gradual increase of wealth
- Orange Blossom – For marriage and permanent relationships, for restoring trust and increasing confidence and hope
- Pine – Healing, fertility, purification, protection, money; returns hostility to sender
- Poppy/opium – Divination, Fertility, making oneself less visible in danger, Luck, Sleep
- Rose – Gentle love, attraction, dreams of love, reconciliation
- Rosemary – Love, happy memories, improving memory and concentration
- Sage – Health, enhanced mental powers and wisdom
- Sandalwood – Spiritual and psychic awareness and healing; sexuality
- Strawberry – Innocent love, friendship and happiness.
- Tamarind – Love. especially new love and the rebuilding of trust
- Thyme – Courage, divination, health, love, money, purification,
- Vanilla – Love, passion, enduring love, increases mental powers
- Vetivert – Love, breaks a run of bad luck, money, anti-theft, protects against all negativity
- Violet – Secrecy, modesty, uncovering hidden talents.