Incense is a blend of herbs and resins, ground together for a magickal purpose. There are plenty of books and websites that provide recipes, these can be followed exactly or used as a place to start.
Most incenses utilize a resin as a base. Resins used in magickal incense include:
- Benzoin; or
- Dragon’s blood.
Choosing which ingredients to use is as simple or complicated as you choose to make it. Some recipes have only 2 or 3 ingredients; others like Kyphi can have up to 20 ingredients. It comes down to personal preference. Some like to look up which herbs are suitable for a purpose, and others prefer to stare at their herbs for a while, and use whichever herbs catch their eye. Both systems can work equally well.
Magickal Herb Substitutions
If the herbs that are listed in a recipe are unavailable, or difficult to obtain, substitutions can be made. Pagan or Wiccan Herbal books often feature an appendix that list herbs by magical intentions and by planetary ruler.
Depending on the purpose and intended usage for the incense, substitutions can be made using either list. For example, if the purpose of magickal incense was communication, then any Mercury ruled herbs would be appropriate, as Mercury is the planet of communication.
Making the Incense
The process of empowering magickal incense begins as soon as the decision is made to make it. However, grinding the incense is a tedious process, and this provides an opportunity to raise energy and infuse the magickal incense with a purpose. The chosen herbs are placed in a mortar and ground with a pestle. Some leafy herbs like mugwort and bay leaves can be very hard to grind, so it is worth cutting them finely first, and grinding the smaller pieces with the rest of the incense. How fine the incense is ground is entirely personal choice, but it is important to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.
When the magickal incense is sufficiently ground, remove it from the mortar and pestle and put it in a jar. An opaque glass jar is usually recommended for storing incense. Hold the jar with the incense in your receptive hand, and hold your power hand over the top. Visualise your magical purpose, see it working, and send that image or feeling through your hands into the incense. Completely fill the incense with the magickal purpose until it seems to glow. The incense is now ready to use.
Using Magickal Incense
This form of Magickal Incense is also known as loose incense and is burned on a charcoal block. Charcoals are often round (although not always) with a depression in the top. The charcoal is held over a flame with tongs or tweezers to light it. There will be sparks and spits glowing across the surface, and generally, a lot of smoke. When the entire block has sparked it will then begin to glow and smoulder. It is now ready to be placed in a burner, also known as a thurible or censer, on a bed of river sand, small stones or soil. As most burners are brass, salt or sea sand will corrode the burner. Sprinkle the loose incense lightly on the top, and enjoy the incense.
Making incense really is a simple process, and one that can be rewarding as it won’t have anyone else’s potentially conflicting energies infused in the incense. Magickal herbs are readily available and easily researched for intentions. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never be caught without the right incense for the occasion again.
Complete Book of Incenses, Oils and Brews by Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota, 1989.
The Incense Bible by Kerry Hughes, MSc, The Haworth Press, New York, 2007.