Welcome to your unchartered journey to the world of incense …
Historically, the power of scent and its affects date back to the stone age when smoke and fire were used both for survival and for purification rituals. There is neither a period throughout human history, nor a culture throughout the world, that refutes the use of smoke or incense in some form of ritual or benefit. “Incense” is derived from the Latin term “to burn,” with references to the first fires and how smoke equated with notions of life, security and abundance.
Power of Smell
The values of integrating incense into your own rituals are founded in the body’s intrinsic capacities to transform aromas into responses. The limbic system in the brain includes a very powerful memory system, triggered by scent, that can shift emotions, thoughts and even physical manifestations. Aromas (new and familiar ones) can trigger memories, evoke thoughts, motivate responses and transition one’s mental states.
History of Incense
Incense has been used throughout the world and throughout human history to create meaningful settings suitable for specific purposes: ceremonies, healings, purgings, spiritual awareness, cleansing, meditation …the list goes on. The application of ritual incense does not have to be complicated, and therein lies its beauty. Aside from the ceremonial uses, incense is used in homes and businesses to exude the broad spectrum of its properties, while others use it for very specific ones. The results of these rituals performed can vary, and can have powerful physiological effects when integrated into a positive environment and in combination with personal intentions.
Sources of Incense
With the increasing popularity of holistic practices like yoga, meditation, spiritual cleansing, etc. making their way into the Western culture, many elements of Eastern culture, such as incense burning, smudging, and gemology are becoming more respected and recognizable. It may be debated that Western culture maintains a different view of the values and benefits of incense than Eastern cultures. For example, frankincense (a resin derivative from a tree) has been indoctrinated in religious ceremonies for millennia as an act of purification, purging, prosperity and spiritual awareness. Partnering floral or fruit essences, in the form of oils, with frankincense and myrrh, or with musk and exotic woods have become increasingly popular. It’s not uncommon to marry more romantic associations of love (ie: rose) and passion (ie: patchouli); or perhaps mango and strawberry with the more traditional properties of prosperity (frankincense) and healing (jasmine) or protection (musk).
Newcomers to incense can easily be overwhelmed by the plethora of choices, the volumes of information and the infinite and contradictory opinions of experienced users and their own intents and purposes. A great place to begin your own exploration of incense is with well-known brands like Hem, Nag Champa or Gonesh, where you can sample some of the vast array of products which typically hail from the traditions and recipes of Tibet, India, China, Japan, Egypt and Native America. These brands have become household names to many, with products that are not only reliable, but very affordable and endorsing the age-old traditional use, as well as embracing the liberties of new age users.
Popular and Trending
Some new age varieties, such as Archangel and Namaste, appeal more to yogis, spiritual advisors and those less tied to religion. In this setting, incense’s powerful properties bring the user closer to energy, space and chakra clearing, as well as the elements of virtue and feng shui.
Some of these brands strive to entice the user into predispositioned spaces, such as “serenity” “abundance” “awakening” “confidence” making it easier to make a selection, but perhaps deter a new user from carving his own unique path into the proverbial forest of incense and its infinite mystical properties and potentials.
Choosing the Right Incense
Incense comes in numerous formats, but the most commonly known are sticks that smolder for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. There are cones, made with similar ingredients as the sticks, as well as beads that can be mixed with oils, herbs and other botanicals to excite, entice and enhance the experience.
Whichever way you decide to approach your journey of exploration into the bounty of benefits incense can impart into your personal rituals and experiences, find comfort in knowing you are stepping into an environment rapt to embrace, release, capture, enrapture, evolve and revolve as you expand and explore what incense can bring into your world.