Incense Magick: Art & Ritual of Incense

Incense fanatic Carl Neal walks you through the joys, wonders, and science of making and using natural incense. From making your first basic cone to creation and use of elaborate incense rituals, Incense Magick is your guide to the sometimes secretive world of incense and incense making. Every article explores different facets of incense, incense making, ingredients, rituals, tools, or techniques.

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Like a drop of rain, flowing to the ocean

Being Solitary is a defining part of who I am as a Pagan.  I meet so many other Solitaries in my journeys and often find them feeling disconnected from the greater Pagan Community.  That is why I write this blog and speak on this topic whenever I can.  The specific topic I write about today applies to every segment of the Community because, when it comes right down to it, each of us are Solitary within our own minds, and that’s important to remember.  Even Traditional Pagans often feel disenfranchised or isolated, (and most practice away from their Covens as well as with them) so this article is really for everyone in the Community.

A few of you might be aware that I was involved in a very serious (and very stupid) accident in mid-December.  I quickly sent out a call to my friends asking for healing energy directly from my hospital bed.  I was in extraordinary pain when I sent that request and was badly broken.  One aspect of my life as a Solitary has been to shield myself from the energy of others in most instances.  Bad experiences from my past have made me very cautious about the energies I take in and (generally speaking) I never open myself to energy from people I’ve never met.


However, in my hour of pain and need, I made the conscious decision to open myself to every positive energy sent my way.  I know from experience that doing this has the potential to draw in undesirable energies too, but the pain and injury were so great that I was reluctantly willing to take that chance.  The pain was so intense that I didn’t think I would even notice any negativity – I was already at my max so I felt I had nothing to lose.

When I saw the responses on FB and in my email I made my decision.  I closed my eyes, connected to the Earth as best I could, and opened the gates to the energy.  I was blown away.  There was energy of every sort imaginable and it was all waiting for me to open the door.  I felt the energy rush in and it truly felt like a scene from a super hero movie or like Dr. Who regenerating.  For a few moments I felt no pain at all as the energy rushed into me.  When it was over (and I could breathe again) I felt an immediate change in my health.  No, I wasn’t able to leap out of bed and dance the tango, but I was able to relax for the first time since I fell.  Oh the pain was still there, and still intense, but it wasn’t quite as strong as before.  More importantly, the rush of energy gave me hope.  It not only showed me that people care, but also that I was going to make it.  It healed my body a tiny bit and my soul a tiny bit more than that.

What in the world has this got to do with being Solitary?  Most of that energy came from my fellow Solitaries.  I know that a few circles also sent energy (which was equally welcome and appreciated) but most of that energy came from Pagans practicing alone.  When a Traditional Pagan sits alone, lights a candle, and sends healing (or other types of) energy, in that moment she is Solitary too.  We often hear or see Pagans say “I am sending energy to you” when someone is in distress.  There have been times that I have questioned the efficacy of this practice, although I myself have participated this since my earliest days as a Pagan. 

My point today is a simple one: a single person sending a little packet of healing energy to someone DOES make a difference.  If someone you care about needs your help and you are too far away to hug them, sending them energy isn’t (or at least it doesn’t have to be) just an empty gesture.  When you send along even the tiniest drop of energy, it can meld with other such energies and make a huge difference.  "Like a drop of rain, flowing to the ocean" is taken slightly out of context here, but it reveals truth for our efforts.  Even if you are the only one to send energy, that single little drop can turn someone’s day or hour or minute into something a little brighter.

Everyone who reads this needs to know that your efforts to send energy to people in times of difficulty are not a “fool’s errand” or a waste of effort.  The energy that you send DOES make a difference.  You might never meet nor communicate with the person to whom you send that energy, but it is felt and it does make a positive difference.  You might be a Solitary Pagan living in the middle of Montana who has never met another Pagan in person, but if you choose to send energy to someone in need then you are making a positive difference.  You might never know the results of the energy you sent, but trust me that if the person who needs it accepts it, you have made a genuine difference.

I want to thank everyone who has sent energy, and especially to those who are still sending energy, to me during this time.  Five broken ribs and a shattered shoulder blade seemed awfully terrible to me until I started seeing how many in our Community are dealing with far worse problems.   It seems that at this particular moment our Community is dealing with an unusual number of serious illnesses and injuries among our ranks.  I want you to know that sending energy to those who need it makes an actual difference in the physical world.  There are limits to what your energy can do to heal a body or fix a legal/financial situation, but there are no limits as to what that energy can do to heal a mind and a soul.


Please think of those in need in our Community.  Support those who are in need in a physical/financial way if you can, but please, please send positive energy.  Anyone can do that and it truly helps, even if you never know the outcome.  I am still at home recovering from my injuries, but I have been able to send energy to others who need it.  I am too depleted to send a lot, but each of those magickal drops count!  Blessings to you and yours.

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  Carl Neal has walked a Pagan path for 30 years. He is a self-avowed incense fanatic and has published 2 books through Llewellyn Worldwide on the topic. For many years (and even occasionally these days) he was a vendor of altar tools and supplies which led him to write The Magick Toolbox for Red Wheel/Weiser  


  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward Monday, 20 January 2014

    Glad to see that you're up and about again, Mr. Neal. I can be counted among the mostly solitary Pagans of the world, and I will take this lesson you learned to heart.

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Monday, 20 January 2014

    Its good to hear that the magic worked for you. Your title, "like a drop of rain" always reminds me of doing accidental weather magic. Yes, the magic works. We were about 400 dancing in a circle chanting "We all come from the Goddess, like a drop of rain....." And the more we sang the harder it rained. In a few minutes a clear sky had tuned dark and it was pouring rain. Almost in unison we all switched to "We all come from the Sun God... Like a ray of sun...." In two verses the rain stopped and sun came out. Working alone works, but the more we help each other and work magic together the more energy it gets. Be well.

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