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Incense

Incense is used for many reasons, including adding scent to a room, symbolising the element of Air in rituals, or as a magical working in itself. Incense is mixed from many different components so that the right effect is achieved for the purpose the incense was intended. These components vary wildly, although some are easier to obtain than others. Aside from making your own you can buy ready-made incense.
There are three main types of incense, these are; sticks (joss sticks), cones, and powdered. Joss sticks, as they are frequently known, are simple to use, easy to obtain and are available in many fragrances. They are self-burning, and once lit need very little attention. Cones are quite similar to joss sticks in that they are fairly easily obtainable and are self burning. There are however, differences: cones have no wood core, which sticks often have, and a conical shape. Powdered incense is not self burning and requires self-lighting charcoal discs. These are discs of charcoal which have been compressed and soaked in potassium nitrate. When lit they become very hot quite quickly and stay hot for anything up to 2 hours, sometimes longer. The method I recommend for lighting them is to rest the disc on the side of a upturned flower pot, and hold a lighter under it until the side glows and sparks. This should then spread quickly over the whole surface. It is then best to leave them until they are heated through. If it is night time the disc will glow red, and if it is day it will be covered in a fine grey ash. You can now add your powdered incense.

How to make incense

Below is an outline method on how to make your own powdered incense, which needs to be burnt over charcoal.
Select the appropriate herbs for the task you wish to perform, from any list of herbs taking notice of the elements and properties. You can use one herb on its own, or combine any number of them. You will need a very small amount of each, no more than of a teaspoonful. Grind them up together as finely as you can (use a mortar and pestle if you have one). If the mixture is sticky, or you are using resins, add small amounts of salt to the mix until the moisture has been removed.
It really is that simple! Your home-made incense is now ready to use.
Here are a couple of recipes to give you some ideas, but the best way is through experimentation.

Protection

Juniper, Rosemary, Thyme, Black pepper

Purification

Sage, Lavender, Thyme

Relaxation

Lavender, Chamomile, Cinnamon

Invigoration

Vanilla, Black pepper, Lemongrass
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