Incense – Uses and Benefits of the 4 Forms of Incense.
Incense has undoubtedly been around as long as man has been using fire, and it is still quite popular today. Burning incense is an enjoyable experience! This is whether it is done for spiritual purposes, or just to make your environment smell fresh, clean and inviting.
Incense gets its name from the Latin word “incendere,” which means “to burn” and refers to the substance itself, rather than to the odour that it produces. It is created from aromatic plant materials, often combined with essential oils. It is popular in religious ceremonies, ritual purification and meditation. Also for aromatherapy, for creating a mood, and for masking bad odours. Different types have developed within underlying cultures, and have also changed with advances in technology and increasing diversity in the reasons for burning it.
Its use can be traced a long way back through history and it is not unique to any single culture. In ancient Egypt, gum resins of trees were burned to please the gods and keep away harmful spirits. Throughout Asia, incense is used for spiritual purification and as an offering to ancestors. In India, incense is used in rituals and as an act of homage to the divine manifestation, especially in a temple. In the Americas, native tribes burned herbs and woods for healing and to drive away negative energies. Incense was also used in the religious rituals of many European pagan cultures, where it was believed that the smoke carried their prayers up to the gods.
Four Types of Incense.
Incense is usually found in one of four forms. Stick and cone incense are similar, as both contain finely ground materials providing fragrance, potassium nitrate for combustion, and a glue-like concoction that sets and holds it together. For stick incense, a thin stick is dipped into the mixture and dried, while cone incense is moulded into conical shapes. (Joss sticks and Incense sticks are essentially the same; joss is all incense, like Japanese style incense sticks, and regular sticks are incense dipped or rolled onto a stick, usually bamboo and then there is raw incense, including chips, resins and ground materials which must be sprinkled upon a heat source, such as a charcoal briquette to release their scent. Finally, incense can be made into “smudge” sticks, by binding dried herbs together and lighting them directly.
The aroma of incense when regularly used can provide a conditioned response that helps a person settle into a relaxed and spiritual state of mind.
Benefits of Using Incense
The benefits of Incense can be easily summarized by what this sixth-century Japanese monk wrote about what were believed to be the ten virtues of incense-
- Brings communication with the transcendent.
- Purifies the mind and body.
- Removes un-cleanliness.
- Brings alertness.
- It is a companion to solitude.
- In the midst of activity, it brings a moment of peace.
- When there is plenty, one never tires of it.
- When there is little, still one is satisfied.
- Age does not change the efficacy of it.
- Used every day, it does no harm.
Some of the Many Uses of Incense
Incense may be burned to overcome or improve situations like – Restless Sleep, Stress, Headaches, Emotional Upset: It assists with; Grounding Yourself, Calming, Inspiration, Energy Lifts, Earth Healing, Relaxation: Lifts and Enhances; Loving Moods, Concentration, Celebrations, Meditation: Freshen Your Home or office: Many more Ideas: –
Restless sleep: Sandalwood, Frankincense, Night Queen and Lavender are excellent for improving restless or troubled sleep. Children who experience fearful thoughts or nightmares often show great improvement if these fragrances are used in their room before they retire, they are usually used one at a time.
Stress: Patchouli is excellent in relieving stressful situations or moods around the home, or in the office. Patchouli incense works on anger, anxiety, stress, depression and emotional instability, so use it anytime you feel stressed or you have an unhappy child.
Headaches: Lavender can be quite soothing and relieving for a headache, especially if you are over-tired. The headache usually goes within a reasonably short time of lighting it.
Emotional Upset: Lavender is wonderful on the emotional level as well. It helps with anxiety, grief, negative attitudes, depression, exhaustion, insomnia, moodiness, phobias, and hysteria and is emotionally healing. White Sage is a purifying scent that can balance emotions and absorb negativity and misfortune.
Grounding: Nag Champa is especially good for providing a grounding effect, as is Sandalwood and Patchouli. These fragrances will help enormously if you’re feeling indecisive, or unsure, or you have a large task before you which you find difficult to deal with.
Calming: Burning Lavender incense can noticeably alter the energy levels in your home. It will calm the atmosphere down when there is too much excitable energy or anger present. It works a treat for inducing peaceful moods into your environment.
Induce peaceful moods into your environment
Energy Lift: Frankincense, Night Queen and Amber are wonderful for an energy ‘lift’. Instead of reaching for a coffee to stimulate and get you going after lunch, burning any of these fragrances will give the enthusiasm and energy you need to keep going.
Earth Healing: Sandalwood, Patchouli and Rainforest incense are excellent for people, who feel a strong connection to, or work with the earth, like gardening and environmental work etc, to nurture and support those skills necessary for the task.
Relaxation: For sheer relaxation, you just can’t go past incense; it alters the moods in your home and office to bring peaceful, tranquil, refreshing, uplifting and inspiring feelings. Since ancient times Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Frankincense and Myrrh have fragrances well known for their relaxing and meditative qualities.
Loving mood: Nag Champa seems to create a warm, loving mood and many people also burn it on special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and large gatherings. Opium, Rose and Musk also contribute to creating a loving mood.
Celebrations: Wafting Frankincense with its powerful uplifting scent can keep a happy, good-humoured atmosphere within any celebration, helping everyone to thoroughly enjoy the event.
Meditation: Jasmine, being the Queen of all scents has the ability to provide confidence, creativity, happiness, reflection and self-awareness. It is also wonderful for long-held guilt and if used in meditation it can help bring awareness and healing. Zen Meditation fragrance is of course very appropriate.
Freshen your Home and Office
Freshen your Home and Office: Most incense-lovers burn incense to set the mood and freshen the home and/or office. Use at any time from morning to night. After a meal, it relaxes and allows you to ‘loosen-up’ and ‘unwind,’ which we all need that at times!
Many more Ideas: Cover up pet smells in the house. Use its fragrant smoke to purify a room and surrounding area of negative and disturbing vibrations. Disguise the smell of smoking.
Use Incense for Enjoyment
Most important: just burn your favourite incense for the sheer pleasure, enjoyment and mood elevation its fragrance evokes.
“… I remain undaunted, for I dwell within my spirit that is filled with the heady essence of Sage, Cedar and Sweetgrass and with my head held high do I walk into the light that illuminates my new trail.” – Mary Summer Rain
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© Ron and Sue Windred.
Disclaimer: The outlined metaphysical and healing properties in this website are for inspiration and reference. We gather this information and alleged properties from writings, books, folklore and various other sources. They are also dependent upon the attitude and beliefs of the individual. Furthermore they do not replace diagnosis or treatment by a qualified therapist or physician.