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Create Your Own Incense

Why Create Your Own Incense
For my efforts, I prefer knowing where my tools came from and how they were handled. To me it's a practice of respect for the natural world around us. The process is also a method to practice my beliefs in something like a moving meditation which allows me to empower the mixture as it's mixed and formed. Here we will briefly cover the ways to collect, store and create incense for spiritual work. This doesn't mean that purchased tools are bad, or can't be used. There are many items that cannot be cultivated in all areas and the only way to acquire them is through commercial means.
I believe creating energy for a ritual, meditation or service starts with the tools an individual selects to use. If you believe that energy is inherent in all things, then how a thing is created or manufactured starts the process of embedding energy into an object or tool. Using tools made from nature is a good place to start. Which suggests staying away from chemically manufactured tools such as plastics and various metal alloys.
One can think of this approach in this manner. Would you rather start your meditation with an incense stick that was picked by a large gas polluting machine, tossed in a metal bin, run along a rubber conveyer, quick dried by chemicals, crushed and pushed into a mold and tossed into a package to be dropped at your local store?
Or would you rather give thanks to the Divine Spirit in your life as you harvest your materials. Taking care to properly dry your collection. Selecting the best items to prepare your incense or smudge stick. And empowering your ingredients as you prepare them and fashion them into proper tool for your workings?
Harvesting Your Ingredients
There are various rules of thumb for harvesting materials to create incense. Ellen Evert Hopman provides an excellent guideline in her book "A Druid's Herbal". Such as picking tree leaves before midsummer to avoid the high concentration of natures own insecticide in the trees. Picking leaves and flower pedals on a dry day. For flowers the pedals should be taken just as the bloom begins to open. Small amounts of root are gathered in the early spring when they can do little damage to a plant that has started to show signs of coming out of it's winter sleep. Or in late fall, just as the plant is about to enter it's sleep for the cold snowy months. And tree bark is harvested in small amounts during the summer and late fall, so as not to cause infestation and disease to the tree. The medicinal component of the bark is held in the soft cambium layer between the sap and the dead hard outer shell. My Cherokee teachers always taught me that herbs, such as sage, must be gathered in late afternoon when they have dried under the Sun from the evening mist or dew.
But everyone seems to agree that drying one's harvest of herbs and plants is the second key step. To ensure bacterial does not develop on your stash, they should be laid out on a cotton cloth, old newspaper or a crossed wooden table that will allow air to pass through the plants and leaves. And of course this area should be kept in a dry place.
Mixing Your Ingredients
Choosing the mixtures to use is up to the individual. What smells great to one person may not be appealing to someone else. Knowing which plants hold what properties is a good place to start. You can refer to Incense Symbology for help. Consider what type of energy needs to be created and select plants to support that energy. Smell each one in it's raw form to ensure it will compliment any other plants chosen to use in the mixture.
Once the ingredients have been selected, they can either twist them into a smudge stick, or ground into a fine powder. I've had many teachers suggest using a marble, wood or rock mortal and pestle to crush the dried ingredients into a fine powder for fashioning incense. Many ancient and even some modern cultures recite a chant over the combination of herbs being mixed. The chant is both a thanks to the Divine for providing these gifts and a method to empower the ingredients for the purpose they are to be used for.
There are many types of sticks to use as a base for an incense stick. But the most common base is to use bamboo slivers. I suggest to my students to drive around their neighborhood and find someone who has bamboo growing in the yard. You're bound to find it. Knock on the door and ask your neighbor if you can take a stake or two that have fallen. These must be dried just like the other components of incense. But once dried they can be easily cut into small thin sticks.
Additionally there are many resins that can be used to glue the incense powder to the bamboo sticks. Myrrh Resin is one of the most common base ingredients to glue the powder to a stick. The stick is coated with the resin, and then rolled into the chosen powder mix.
Or you can mix the resin and powder together and fashion it into a small mold to create a solid incense piece. In either case, the newly molded incense is set aside and allowed to dry for at least 24 hours before use.
Tools: Incense
- A History Of Incense
- Creating Your Own Incense
- Incense Symbology

Source: 1, h1, h2, h3, h4, h11, h12, h13, h14, h15, h16
Created: 05.14.2008 Updated: 05.14.2008

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