Friday, January 25, 2013

Loose Incense


It has been a while since I've played around with the resins, woods, and herbs to come up with new blends to burn.  The weather has been extremely cold , yet over the last couple of days I've been running in and out the patio door, lighting the incense charcoal to test how such-and-such smells when burning, or how a blend of herbs meld together when smouldering.  This morning I was outside doing some last minute sniffing before even making coffee!  At the end of the post, I'll tell you why (besides just enjoying standing on a windy deck in not enough clothes while sniffing cinnamon burning.  Mmmmm...)
A month or so ago, my friend Jackie Johnson invited me to contribute to The Wisconson Herbalist (links to issues are at the extreme top of the page), a quarterly, free on-line magazine that she edits.  I chose to write about loose incense, something I've not addressed for publication for many years.  Getting my hands sticky with resins once again, it wasn't much of a jump for me to start dreaming up blends, even after the article had been sent and published.
There is something so pleasing to the senses about the color, shape, weight, scent, translucence, and slight tackiness of the various resins.  Irresistible lemony, smooth yellow orbs of copal look like they should be edible - and if they were, they should taste delicious.  Same with frankincense - but neither of them would be.  Shards of dragon's blood, still soft globs of pinon, rough and wildly varied in hue is the myrrh, and the powdery pale tan benzoin are all so unique and beautiful.
Although herbalists often make salves with the pitch from various conifers while it is runny and sticky, I much prefer it in a more solid state in order that it can be blended into incenses.  Last year I made a discovery that, although it requires patience, allows me to use all the small bits of pitch on the trees around me - even if it is gathered in a semi-liquid state.  It seems that if gathered and placed in the deep freeze for a year, it will remain as hard little pebbles.  Freeze-dried, I suppose.
YAY!  Local conifer saps are my favorites!
So it should come as no surprise that the best of the blends from the last month or so have made their way onto the website.  They are:


LUNA- sweet yellow sandalwood and rose geranium balanced with benzoin, brightened with lemon verbena and cardamom.
SUN GOD - a burst of summer from frankincense, cinnamon, orange, lavender, dragon's blood, sandalwood, etc.
COME SEE ME - there's a story to this one.  Many years ago we were invited to a hand-fasting and decided to make an oil for the couple.  Looking through Scott Cunningham's book on incenses and brews, we found "Come See Me Oil" made simply with lots of patchouli oil and a bit of cinnamon in a carrier.  It was a hit, and we later made a similar soap that we carried (along with the oil) at our renaissance festival shop.  Now it is an incense, but with the addition of myrrh, rose petals, and violet flowers.  It holds up well in incense too.
WIDE OPEN SPACES - clean and clearing, this blend is of white sage, lavender, and copal.  Perfect for clearing a mind filled with too many details.
They are available and ready to go right now!  Click HERE where you'll also find charcoal and burners.

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