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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in incense
Making Incense With Makko or Tabu No Ki

If you’ve ever done online research into incense making, you’ve almost certainly come across references to a mysterious material called “makko”.  Some places online even insist that you can’t make your own incense without it.  There is a lot of confusing information out there about makko, and I’m sadly to blame for a bit of that, so this is an effort to clear up the mysteries that surround makko.

The first thing I need to say is that is that you do NOT need to have makko to roll your own incense.  Makko is only one of many different “binders” that are available to modern incense makers.  In fact, makko isn’t the best choice for every incense making project.  In this age of online ordering, makko is a lot easier to locate than it was just a decade ago, but if you want to make your own incense you have lots of options beyond makko.  That being said, just what is makko and how is it used?  But first, a confession…

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My Favorite Incense Books: The Trail Of Time by Dr. Silvio Bedini

Not only is The Trail of Time one of my very favorite incense books, it’s also one of the few academic books on the topics that’s available in English.  Dr. Bedini uses the pages of this book to shine a light on a nearly forgotten aspect of human history.  Before the advent of reliable mechanical clocks, humans used a wide variety of ways to keep time, especially during the hours of darkness when the sun could not be used as a reference.  Candles, water, sand, rope, and other materials were often utilized in an attempt to keep time when the sun was uncooperative.  The many ways that incense was employed to keep time is fascinating and has inspired me to attempt a variety of projects of my own.

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Purified By Fire: Incense Inspiration

When we focus on incense sticks during meditation, we move into a mystical space that is both physical and spiritual. Like us, the incense stick is earthbound with an ember that burns for only a finite time, but the diaphanous spirit it releases is unbound by time or space. Rather than shutting down our senses to focus on an inner realm, incense involves our senses as we follow whirling smoke upward and outward while we take its scent into us, filling us as we breathe. 

The journey starts with a flame, and then a glowing ember releases smoke to rise above us in an ethereal dance. Ashes fall below, purified by the fire. We can use this to imagine negative thoughts being changed from darkness into the beauty of warm gray snowflakes and a scented spun-silver plume, lighter than air. We can watch as our atmosphere is altered to become reminiscent of the heavens and lifts our thoughts: Embers become shooting stars, and the silver ribbon of smoke becomes unraveled clouds. Altered senses may guide our inspired thoughts to travel along new, perhaps undiscovered, pathways. 

We can also imagine our physical selves being represented by the incense stick, our inner fire releasing magic into the world. That part of us emanates outward, expanding to mingle with the breath of those around us as we ride the wind to become part of everything. We can also see in the swirling smoke our life's path, not a straight line but a twirling, meandering ballet that moves us ever onward and upward. We may leave a bit of ourselves behind as we bounce off of our surroundings, working through them, but no matter what we do, we cannot avoid our final destination: oneness with all that is. As spiritual beings enjoying the physical experience of life, incense meditations can help us remember the beauty and wonder of our existence, where heaven and earth, body and spirit, are all available to us in every moment

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My Favorite Incense Books: The Complete Incense Book by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi

There are a lot of useful, and entertaining, books about incense.  One of my favorites is The Complete Incense Book.  Published in 1998, this was one of the first additions to my personal incense library.  It is organized geographically and takes the reader on a tour of incense from around the world.  As the author moves through each region, she discusses the history of incense, as well as the ingredients that originate from that area.  She offers an assortment of incense recipes for each region as well.  While the recipes are all for “loose” incense, they are varied and quite interesting.

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Incense Molds

Since I made my first natural incense cone, I have quested for a decent incense mold.  For many years, there was nothing at all on the market.  In those early days, I made my own latex cone mold and taught others how to do it.  Making molds isn’t something I want to devote a lot of time to, so I’ve continued checking and testing virtually every mold I can find anywhere in the world.  My conclusion?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Incense Heresy

Have you ever had 2 different types of incense that you think would be great together?  Me too.  That’s what has led to my “incense sin”.

This is my confession.  I have done something that might be interpreted in the incense world as genuine heresy.  If you aren’t an incense person, this might not seem significant, but if you are an incense person I hope you won’t hate me for what I have done.  I especially hope so since I’m very pleased with the result.

I feel like the incense version of Dr. Frankenstein.

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Incense for Ancient Minoans and Modern Pagans

Like so many other ancient cultures, the Minoans used incense in a sacred setting. Though we can't be certain of the exact uses, it appears that they burned incense as offerings and to purify sacred areas such as ritual rooms, altars, and shrines. These were common practices in the Bronze Age Mediterranean region.

They didn't have the incense sticks and cones that so many of us are familiar with; those are self-igniting due to their saltpeter content. Just hold a flame to the end and voila, incense smoke! What they did have was hot coals and chopped or powdered incense mixtures.

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