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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Incense Correspondences

Pick up any Pagany book about incense (or virtually anything else) and you are bound to find a “chart of correspondences” to tell you which herb works for what type of magick.  Want to make incense to help bring prosperity?  Look up “prosperity” in the closest correspondence chart and use whatever the chart says!  Personally, I am generally opposed to using a correspondence chart created by someone else.  I understand pragmatism and the limited amount of time that people have…I get it.  My personal experience with such charts has often shown me that I find different magickal energies in some ingredients.  Sometimes I use things in the exact opposite way as I have seen it described by others.  Don’t misunderstand me.  This isn’t a huge criticism of such charts.  If you’ve read “Incense: Crafting & Use of Magickal Scents” then you know that I included a fairly large correspondence list for incense makers.  What I’m really saying is that nobody should take those charts as gospel nor believe that they can explore every type and variation of plant and tree the way that we can as individuals.


Here’s a case in point.  A few years ago I was lucky enough to score a pair of logs from an Atlas Cedar tree.  I have used cedar wood in incense since I first became an incense maker in the 1990’s.  In my own correspondence chart I list the magickal properties of cedar as “healing, purification, protection”.  Those things are generally true of cedar in my experience.  Once I started listening to my newly acquired Atlas Cedar, I learned this wood is different.  The Atlas Cedar is really focused on the protection aspect and is far less concerned with healing and purification.  In fact, the energy of this wood goes well beyond mere protection and definitely moves into the realm of “guardian”.  Virtually all of the energy in the logs I acquired is concerned with standing guard and defending others.

Although I love this information (I’m even building a new incense blend around that energy) I wondered why this aspect was so very, very powerful in these logs.  I did some research and discovered that Atlas Cedar is native to the Atlas Mountains in Africa.  These large foreboding mountains stand as a barrier between the waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean and the deserts of the Sahara, as well as subdividing parts of Northern Africa.  The mountains run through lands like Morocco and Algeria that still hold dark mysteries in the imaginations of humans. 

Why does that environment create beautiful cedar trees that are concerned with guarding others?  I don’t have an answer for that…at least not yet.  Perhaps what they guard has yet to be discovered by human eyes.  This experience has again reinforced my belief that if we take the time to listen to the plants and trees that we use in our spiritual practices they will reveal more to us than any correspondence chart can.  That’s because even the best chart can’t possibly account for every variation that we encounter.  It simply wouldn’t be possible.  So the lesson here is to listen to the plants and trees that you use.  If you silence your own thoughts the plants can tell you how to use them to best effect.  Take advantage of the uniqueness that Nature gives you and learn the secrets of every ingredient you use.  The rewards are immense. 

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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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