Natural incense is made from either single herbs or a combination of pure plants and minerals. When burned, incense goes through the respiratory system, the bronchial, mucous membrane and nose. Inhaling the smoke is a healing method, a more subtle path. The ingredients work in concert, like a beautiful melody created by the many instruments in an orchestra, to form a combined effect, that cures and heals. Special types of incense smoke can also open up blocked inner channels in the subtle body.
Each type of plant possesses individual qualities and have particular effects when used as incense. One plant’s function may be to purify, cleanse, creating balance and harmony, another may invoke benign spirits and healing powers. Incense has been used all over the world in most cultures for magical and ceremonial purposes. It is also used as a thanksgiving, as a prayers of universal kindness, on days of celebration, to appease and harmonize the elementary forces in the environment, so that people, animals, plants and the seasonal weather are restored to the optimal harmony, beauty and sweetness.
Here is a song to sing while using incense for cleansing your home or invocation of blessings:
May the precious and sublime awakened mind
arise in those where it has not arisen.
Where it has arisen may it never wane,
but continue to increase for ever more.
How to make a simple incense at home:
Take four cups of leaves of your favorite flower, or the herbal ingredients you like, and mix well with 1 cup of almond oil.
Leave it to soak for one night in a cool place. Sieve the oil through gauze. Repeat that three times with new ingredients, using the same oil. Now you have the essence or basic oil with the extracts and aroma. The oil can keep for 12 months.
Now take 1 cup of makko or sandalwood powder. Add some drops from your oil extract and a few drops of water. Knead the dough thoroughly until it is supple but not too soft. Next take a piece of oil skin or waxed cloth and roll the dough into sticks or round pyramids. Let them dry. Trees and grasses give a more earthy smell. You can also add rose or mint leaves, whatever turns you on. As alternate ingredients, you can use pulverized fragrant wood and herbs and add to the makko powder.
Suggestions for incense ingredients: amber, cedarwood, cinnamon, ginger, juniper, lavender, lemon, lotus, mugwort, musk, myrrh, patchouli, rose, sage, sandalwood, vanilla, woodruff and wormwood.
To illustrate the power of scents, the Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra gives a fascinating story on how Buddha Sakyamuni emitted a ray of light from the mystic curl between his eyebrows to a land situated beyond an untold numbers of galaxies, to invite a special guest of honor: a bodhisattva carrying a vessel with wonderful fragrance that communicated the realization of ultimate reality without using words, only its sweet scent. You can find this sutra here.
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