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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The Community of Solitaries

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It was one year ago today that my life changed forever.  It didn't change as much as it could have changed, and for that I'm grateful, but nothing has been the same since this day one year ago.  My own error resulted in my falling 10 feet onto the thin edge of the control panel of a spare washing machine.  I broke 6 ribs at both ends and broke my left shoulder blade in half.  I spent several days in the hospital, 2 months off work, and 6+ months in physical therapy.  I would never have made it through all of this without amazing support from my friends, family, and co-workers.  I am still paying off medical bills, but I am alive and healthy.  I am nearly back to the level I was before the accident (and in some ways I am actually healthier).  It still amazes me that less than 2 months after the accident I climbed on a plane and flew to San Jose to do my 3 workshop presentations at PantheaCon.  I owe thanks to many of the people at that event as well.  While lurching around with broken bones, trying to haul incense making supplies from one workshop to the next, a lot of people I'd never met helped me haul things around and set up or tear down.  THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS HELPED IN THE LAST YEAR.

But there was more help given to me than that and I want to try and thank as many people as I can from the Pagan Community.  In less than 1 day after my accident I was able to get online and, very slowly, type a message with one hand.  I sent out that email letting folks know what happened and asking for any spare energy to help me with the extraordinary pain as well as energy to heal.  The response was overwhelming and nearly immediate.  Within an hour of sending that message, I began to feel the energy pouring in.  I know that there were groups or covens who sent me energy and that was an immense kindness that truly made a difference.  Even more surprising was the energy that continued to come to me for weeks, much of it being sent by Solitary Pagans who had never met (or even heard of) me and who lived hundreds or even thousands of miles away.  That Community of Solitaries, without any coordination whatsoever, continued this outpouring of love and energy for months.


I don't want to discount the incredible help from covens and other groups, but most of this healing work was done by individuals (who may or may not belong to a coven) and THAT is the Community of Solitaries.  I've had a long time to reflect on all of this and have reached the conclusion, shocking as it is to me, that one person can indeed be both Solitary and Covener.  I have met one or two such people over the years, but had not realized until this year that many, if not most, members of covens also work as Solitaries.

I had often seen in the past that Solitary Pagans were different from Coveners/Traditional Pagans, but don't think I saw clearly how most of the Pagan Community practice their craft in a Solitary fashion at least some of the time.  With the rare exception of folks who never work magick, worship Deity, or celebrate Nature unless they are in a group, aren't we all Solitary most of the time?  This perspective has led me to look at the entire Community in a different way.

I will explore more about this "gray market" Solitary Community in upcoming blogs.  I want to again thank everyone who sent me energy, wished me well, made purchases at my website (which helped pay some of my bills), and who kept me in their thoughts as I healed.  I want to offer special thanks to those good folks in my life who heard little or nothing from me for many months.  Special thanks to the folks here at Pagan Square for not shutting down my blog despite more than 6 months of inactivity on my part.  I have on more book manuscript to finish by Yule and then my outside obligations are completed and I can get back to doing the things that I so love.

Thank you all for your energy and support.  I have a new job that has shortened my daily comment by 60%, I have a new book out about incense and am wrapping up another book for Llewellyn that should be out about this time next year.  I love my job.  I have amazing friends and an incredible family who have supported me.

Solitary?  Well, yes, I am when it comes to how I practice my spirituality most days.  But all of the times I have sent energy or information to others, helped to coordinate a workshop or lecture, or picked up trash at a Pagan event, I too have been an active part of the Community of Solitaries.  I bet you have too!

Bright Blessings for a wonderful holiday season for you and yours.  And an early Happy Yule as well!


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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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