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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Ancient Incense: Pellets (making them!)

Last time I talked about the likely origins and historic use of incense pellets, but the real joy in discussing incense making is to actually make incense!  Making incense pellets is easy and fun, but it can be messy so plan for that.  I recommend that you make incense in an area with a floor you can mop.  If you make incense pellets in a carpeted area, it’s a good idea to put down some cardboard or a drop cloth to ensure no honey causes damage.  Unlike recipes for self-combusting incense (like sticks and cones) incense pellet recipes can be freely modified to fit your needs and the materials you have on hand. 

I strongly suggest that you wear gloves while making incense.  This is especially true with incense pellets.  Pellets are most often made with honey as a binder, but natural jams are also used (avoid any that contain corn syrup or artificial flavors).  Let’s start with a recipe (all ingredients should be finely powdered).


Red cedar            2 teaspoons

Clove                     ¾ teaspoon

Charcoal *           ½ teaspoon        *Never use “self-lighting” charcoal.  Only use natural incense charcoal.

Benzoin                                ¼ teaspoon

Oak Moss            ½ teaspoon

Rosemary            ½ teaspoon


Blend all of the powdered ingredients in a mixing bowl.  When they are thoroughly mixed, slowly add honey to the mix.  For this mixture I would use 1 -2 teaspoons of honey. Add more if needed, but be careful not to add too much or the mixture becomes almost impossible to handle.  The goal is to knead the mixture until you are able to pick up all of the incense in a single lump and roll it into a ball.  Once rolled it should have a smooth surface with few cracks.  If it has multiple cracks or if you are unable to pick up all of the incense in a single piece it may need more honey.  If the mixture is runny and won’t hold its shape there is probably too much honey.  You can add more powdered ingredients to help absorb the extra honey, but it’s much better to avoid adding too much honey initially.

Once you can roll the incense into a ball, drop it into a jar, plastic bag, or other air tight container.  If you have added too much honey you might find it very difficult to remove the incense from your gloves.  If that should happen carefully slip your gloves off and turn them inside out.  You can tie the opening of the glove closed and age the incense inside the glove.  It is best to force as much air from the container as possible.  Allow the incense to age for about 2 weeks and then unseal it.  You will find that the incense has changed in texture and has become easier to handle.  You can then break off small pieces and roll pellets about the size of a pea.

Those of you who are more visual might prefer to watch a video on the pellet making process.  Check this video: 


In the next edition I’ll show you some of the many ways you can use incense pellets.

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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  


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