Posts Tagged With: Herodotus

Rites And Ceremonies of the Druids

RITES AND CEREMONIES

A RELATION of the duties of the Ovades as sacrificers will naturally lead us into a description of the ceremonies of the priesthood, of their altars, their temples and their objects of worship or veneration.

The clachan, or stone temples of the Druids were round like those of the Chinese, the primitive Greeks, the Jews, and their copyists the Templars. This shape was adopted because it was typical of eternity, and also of the solar light–the word circus being derived from the Phœnician cir or cur, the Sun.

Like those of the Thracians they were open at the roof, for the Druids deemed it impious to attempt to enclose within a house that God, whose shrine was the universe.

There were two celebrated temples of the Druids, Abury in Wiltshire, and Carnac in Brittany, which were built in the form of a serpent.

There is scarcely a spot in the world in which the serpent has not received the prayers and praises of men. At first an emblem of the sun’s light and power, it is worshipped in lands where the sun is not recognized as a Deity, for instance on the coasts of Guinea where the negroes curse him every morning as he rises, because he scorches them at noon.

The winged serpent was a symbol of the Gods of Egypt, Phœnicia, China, Persia, and Hindostan. The Tartar princes still carry the image of a serpent upon a spear as their military standard. Almost all the Runic inscriptions found upon tombs are engraved upon the sculptured forms of serpents. In the temple of the Bona Dea, serpents were tamed and consecrated. In the mysteries of Bacchus, women used to carry serpents in their hands and twined around their brows, and with horrible screams cry, Eva! Eva! In the great temple of Mexico, the captives taken in war and sacrificed to the sun, had wooden collars in the shape of a serpent put round their necks. And water-snakes are to this day held sacred by the natives of the Friendly Isles.

It was not only worshipped as a symbol of light, of wisdom and of health, personified under the name of God, but also as an organ of divination. Serpents formed the instruments of the Egyptian enchanters, the fetich of the Hottentots, and the girdles of the medicine-men of the North American Indians. The Norwegians, too, of the present day, when hunting will often load their guns with serpents to make them fortunate.

The serpent must have obtained this world-wide worship from its beauty, and its wisdom. Subtle in heart beyond all the beasts of the field; rapid and mysterious in its wary footless movements, to which the ancients were wont to resemble the aerial progress of the Gods; above all its eyes so bright, so lovely, so weird in their powers of facinations, no wonder that it should excite the awe and admiration of superstitious barbarians.

And they believed it immortal, for every year they saw it cast its skin, wrinkled and withered with age, and when they tried to kill it they found that it retained life with miraculous pertinacity.

Finally it was the brazen serpent elevated upon a cross that Moses erected in the wilderness, and upon which all who gazes were saved from death; and it was this serpent which Jewish and Christian writers have agreed in asserting to be a type of the Messiah.

The cromleachs were the altars of the Druids, and were so called from a Hebrew word signifying, “to bow,” and from the bowing of the worshippers who believed them to be guarded by spirits.

They were constructed of a large flat stone placed upon two rough pillars. These stones were always unhewn, for by the Druidic law it was ordained that no axe should touch the sacred stones, a precept which very strangely coincides with the Mosaic law. “Thou shall not build an altar of hewn stones.” Exod. xx, 25.

These cromleachs were also sepulchres, as is testified by the number of urns and human bones that have been discovered beneath some few of them. It is probable that their clachan were used for the same purpose, as the Egyptian mummies were interred in the catacombs of the pyramids, and as we bury bodies in the vaults of our churches.

We generally find them situated on hills or mountains, which prove that the Druids entertained the same reverence for high places as the nations of the East, and even the Scandinavians, for we read in the Erybygga-Saga that when Thoralf established his colony in the promontory of Thorsness in Iceland he erected an eminence called Helgafels, the Holy Mount, upon which none might look till they had made their ablutions under pain of death.

And sometimes by the side of a lake or running stream, for water was held holy by the Druids, and they were even wont to propitiate its deities, by offering it presents.

There was a Druidic temple at Toulouse, on the borders of a lake into which the Druids threw large quantities of gold, and in which Capion, a Roman knight, and his followers miserably perished in an attempt to recover it. So, Aurum Tolosanum, “Gold from Toulouse,” became a bye-word among the Romans to express any accident or misfortune.

In the islands surrounding Britain and Gaul, especially in the Channel Islands where they are called Pouquelays, these altars are very common. Islands were held sacred for some reason by the ancients.

They were often erected within the recesses of the sacred grove beneath the shadow of an oak.

This, the fairest and strongest of trees has been revered as a symbol of God by almost all the nations of heathendom, and by the Jewish Patriarchs.

It was underneath the oaks of Mamre that Abraham dwelt a long time, and where he erected an altar to God, and where he received the three angels.

It was underneath an oak that Jacob hid the idols of his children, for oaks were held sacred and inviolable. (Judges II. 5. 6.)

From the Scriptures, too, we learn that it was worshipped by the Pagans who corrupted the Hebrews (Hosea. IV. v. 13. Ezekiah VI. 13. Isaiah I. v. 29.)

Homer mentions people entering into compacts under oaks as places of security. The Grecians had their vocal oaks at Dodona. The Arcadians believed that stirring the waters of a fountain with an oaken bough would bring rain. The Sclavonians worshipped oaks which they enclosed in a consecrated court.

The Romans consecrated the oak to Jupiter their Supreme God, as they consecrated the myrtle to Venus, the laurel to Apollo, the pine to Cybele, the poplar to Hercules, wheat-ears to Ceres, the olive to Minerva, fruits to Pomona, rose-trees to the river nymphs, and hay to poor Vertumnus whose power and merits could obtain him nothing better.

The Hindoos who had no oaks revered the Banian tree.

When an oak died, the Druids stripped off its bark, &c., shaped it reverently into the form of a pillar, a pyramid, or a cross, and still continued to worship it as an emblem of their God.

Besides the clanchan and cromleach there are many stone monuments remaining in various parts of Gaul and Britain, which bear the. Druid stamp in their rudeness and simplicity.

These were sometimes trophies of victory, sometimes memorials of gratitude, sometimes images of God.

When erected they were anointed with rose-oil, as Jacob anointed the first stone monument on record -that which he raised at Bethel in memory of his dream.

The custom of raising plain stone pillars for idolatrous purposes was afterwards adopted by the Pagans and forbidden by the Mosaic law (Lev. XXVI. 1.)

Mercury, Apollo, Neptune and Hercules were worshipped under the form of a square stone. A large black stone was the emblem of Buddha among the Hindoos, and of Manah Theus-Ceres in Arabia. The Paphians worshipped their Venus under the form of a white pyramid, the Thebans their Bacchus under that of a pillar, the Scandinavians their Odin under that of a cube, the Siamese their Sommonacodum under that of a black pyramid.

And in the temple of the Sun at Cuzco, in Peru, was a stone column in the shape of a cone, which was worshipped as an emblem of the Deity.

Every one has heard of the Stone of Memnon in Egypt, which was said to speak at sun-rise, and the remains of which are covered with inscriptions by Greek and Latin travelers bearing testimony to the fact.

There is a story in Giraldus Cambrensis which proves that the Druids had the same superstition. In his time, a large flat stone ten feet long, six feet wide, and one foot thick served as a bridge over the river Alun at St. David’s, in Pembrokeshire. It was called in British Lech Larar, “the speaking stone,” and it was a tradition that if a dead body was carried over the stone it would speak, and that with the struggle of the voice it would crack in the middle, and that then the chink would close.

Keysler informs us that the Northern nations believed their stone deities to be inhabited by fairies or demons, and adduces an instance from the Holmveria Saga of Norway.

“Indridus going out of his house lay in wait for his enemy Thorstenus, who was wont to go to the temple of his God at such a particular time. Thorstenus came and, entering the temple before sun-rise, prostrated himself before the stone-deity and offered his devotion. Indridus standing by heard the stone speak, and pronounce Thorstenus’ doom in these words:

Tu huc
Ultima vice
Morti vicinis pedibus
Terram calcasti;
Certè enim antequam
Sol splendeat,
Animosus Indridus
Odium tibi rependet.

Heedless of thy approaching fate
Thou treadst this holy ground;
Last step of life! thy guilty breast
Ere Phcebus gilds the ruddy East,
Must expiate
Thy murderous hate
Deep piere’d with crimson wound.

To fire, also, as an emblem of the sun, the Druids paid peculiar reverence.

Indeed fire would appear to have been the chosen element of God. In the form of a flaming bush He appeared to Moses. On Mount Sinai His presence was denoted by torrents of flame, and in the form of fire he preceded the little band of Israelites by night, through the dreary wilderness, which is perhaps the origin of the custom of the Arabians who always carry fire in front of their caravans.

All the great nations had their holy fires which were never suffered to die. In the temple of the Gaditanian Hercules at Tyre, in the Temple of Vesta at Rome, among the Brachmans, the Jews, and the Persians were these immortal fires which might not be desecrated by the breath of men, and which might be fed with peeled wood alone. So also the American savages when they have gained a victory, would light fires and dance round them.

The Druids thus conducted their worship of the holy element. Having stripped the bark off dry wood they poured oil of roses upon it, and lighted it by rubbing sticks together, which is said to have been an invention of the Phœnicians.

To this they prayed at certain times, and whoever dared to blow the fire with his mouth, or to throw dirt or dead beasts into it they punished with death.

They had circular temples consecrated to their never-dying fires; into these the priests entered every day, and reverently fed the fire and prayed to it for a whole hour, holding branches of vervain in their hands and crowned with tiaras which hung down in flaps on each side of their faces covering their cheeks and lips.

They also kindled the Beltein, or fire of the rock on May-eve to welcome the sun after his travels behind the clouds and tempests of the dark months. On that night all other fires were extinguished, and all repaired to the holy mount to pay their annual tribute to the Druids.

Then were held solemn rites, and men and beasts, and even goblets of wine were passed through the purifying flames. After which the fires were all relighted, (each from the sacred fire) and general festivity prevailed.

In Cornwall there are Karn-Gollowa, the Cairn of Lights, and Karn-Leskyz, the Cairn of Burnings which names proves that the fiendish rites of Moloch and Baal were really observed with all their impious cruelty in the island of Britain.

From these same blood-thirsty Phœnicians who had taught the Israelites to sin, the Druids learnt to pollute their altars with human blood, and to assert that nothing was so pleasing to God as the murder of a man.

In the golden age, men’s hearts softened and elevated by gratitude towards their Maker offered him the choicest herbs and the sweetest flowers of the soil.

But in the age of iron, when men had learnt to tremble at their own thoughts, to know that they were thieves, and liars, and murderers, they felt that there was need of expiation.

To appease the God whom they still believed to be merciful, they offered Him Blood.

They offered Him the blood of animals.

And then they offered Him the most innocent and beautiful of His creations–beautiful virgins and chaste youths–their eldest sons, their youngest daughters.

Do you disbelieve me? read as I have read all the great writers of the past, and then you will shudder as I have shuddered at such terrible wickedness in man.

Read Manetho, Sanchionatho, Herodotus, Pausanias, Josephus, Philo the Jew, Diodorus of Sicily, Strabo, Cicero, Cæsar, Macrobius, Pliny, Titus Livius, Lucan, and most of the Greek and Latin-poets.

Read the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy, the judges, Kings, the 105th Psalm, the Prophesies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many of the old fathers, and there you will find that the Egyptians, the Israelites, the Arabs, the Cathaginians, the Athenians, Spartans and Ionians, the Romans, the Scythians, the Albanians, the Germans, Iberians and Gauls had adopted this cruel custom, which like the practice of magic had risen in Phœnicia, and had spread like a plague over the whole world.

The Egyptians sacrificed every year a young and beautiful virgin, whom arrayed in rich robes, they flung into the Nile. They also offered up men with red hair at the shrine of Osiris.

The Spartans whipped boys to death in sight of their parents before starting upon an expedition. The natives of the Tauric Chersonesus hospitably sacrificed to Diana all the strangers whom chance threw upon their coast. The Cimbri ripped their victims open, and divined from their smoking entrails. The Norwegians used to beat their brains out with an axe, the Icelanders by dashing them against a stone. The Scythians cut off the shoulder and arm, and flinging them in the air drew omens from the manner in which they fell upon the pile. The Romans and Persians buried them alive.

This mania for blood was universal. Even Themistocles, the deliverer of Greece, had once sacrificed three youths.

The ancient Peruvians, when one of their nation was dangerously ill, sacrificed his eldest son or youngest daughter to the solar deity, entreating him to spare the father’s life. And periodically at their religious festivals they murdered children and virgins, drowning them and then sacrificing them.

And the ancient Mexicans forced their victims to lie down upon a pyramidical stone, and tearing out their hearts, lifted them smoking towards the sun.

I might continue this long and disgusting catalogue of religious crimes, but let us return to the Druids, who at least only sacrificed human beings in some great and peculiar crisis.

The word sacrifice means an offering of the cake, and there can be no doubt that those thin broad cakes of the ancient Britons, which, with a libation of flour, milk, eggs, and herbs, or milk, dew and acorns are still superstitiously offered in the north of Britain, formed the usual sacrifice.

They also offered the boar, and it is not improbable that the hare, hen and goose which they were forbidden to eat, but which Cæsar informs us that they reared causa voluptatis, were used for sacrificial purposes.

The human victims were selected from criminals or prisoners of war. In lack of these they were chosen by lot, and it sometimes happened that Curtius-like they offered themselves up for their country.

Such a one was led into a sacred forest watered by running streams. In the centre, a circular space surrounded by grey and gigantic stones. Then the birds ceased to sing, the wind was hushed; and the trees around extended their spectral arms which were soon to be sprinkled with human blood.

Then the victim would sing the Song of Death.

The Druid would approach, arrayed in his judicial robes. He was dressed in white; the serpent’s egg encased in gold was on his bosom; round his neck was the collar of judgment which would strangle him who delivered an unjust sentence; on his finger was the ring of divination; in his hand was a glittering blade.

They would crown the victim with oak leaves in sombre mockery. They would scatter branches of the oak upon the altar.

The voices of the blue-robed Bards would chant a solemn dirge, their harps would tone forth sinister notes.

Pale and stern the Druid would approach, his knife uplifted in the air.

He would stab him in the back. With mournful music on his lips he would fall weltering in blood, and in the throes of death.

The diviners would draw round, and would calmly augur from his struggles.

After which, fresh oak-leaves would be cast upon the blood-polluted altar, and a death feast would be held near the corpse of the sacrificed.

 

From the Book

THE VEIL OF ISIS; OR, MYSTERIES OF THE DRUIDS

BY W. WINWOOD READE.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, The Druids | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gemstone of the Day of Sept. 4th is Frankincense

Gemstone of the Day

 Frankincense

Background and History

Frankincense is a famed resinous substance that has been mentioned in a myriad of texts since the ancient times. Long-believed by ancient religions to be a sacred and powerful material, it continues to be used to this day for medicinal, religious, magickal, and general purposes. It is among the most wellknown of perfumed resins, having been granted sacred status in a number of Holy Books, namely the Holy Bible, the Al Koran, and the Tanakh and Torah. It has been considered a precious commodity since the time of the Ancient Egpytians, and possibly even earlier, chiefly due to its relative rarity, incomparable aroma, and powerful medicinal properties.

The frankincense resin is derived from a very hardy tree, the Boswellia sacra – a deciduous tree that is known for its ability to flourish in highly unforgiving settings such as rocky outcrops, semidesert areas, and dry, arid ravines. The plant is even known to grow from outside rocks, and is generally anchored by a disk-like swelling found near the base of the trunk, almost near the root-system of the plant. This moderately sized tree, which grows to a maximum of eight metres in ideal settings, and a minimum of one to two metres in more unforgiving terrain is characterised by its highly verdant foliage consisting of oddly numbered, slightly glossy, compound leaves and leaflets that grow opposite one another. The immature leaves of the frakincense tree are also noticeable due to the presence of a light down or furze found both on the obverse and reverse side. It is also highly discernable due to its yellowish to dun-hued five-petaled inflorescence that possesses a unique seemingly dentated centre. The frankincense tree also boasts fruits, which tend to measure only a mere one centimetre in length. The tree conveniently boasts a bark redolent of the texture of paper, with about as close a degree of toughness, allowing it to be readily stripped in order to extrude the prized resinous substance that is housed within it.

The extruded resin is either harvested through traditional means (manually, after allowing the resin to harden due to exposure to air) or otherwise hastened by the use of modern machinery which collect the resins by volume (the latter being more harmful for the tree). The harvesting of frankincense usually begins when the plant has been allowed to flourish for at least eight years, with a continual production of resin, usually in more limited, albeit far more prized, quantities persisting until well into the plant’s old age, after which the resinous production slows down considerably. The frankincense tree is fully capable of regeneration even after years of being tapped, although it tends to be a slow process, and more trees die due to overexploitation, combined with natural causes such as animal grazing, severe droughts, and other factors.

 

Frankincense has been used and traded since the dawn of civilization, and has played an integral role in the early religious and magickal beliefs of various cultures. The use, trade, and eventual sale of frankincense has generally been situated in the Arabian and North African territories, where it has been harvested, and later, grown for more than five thousand years (with production, sale, and lately, even cultivation, continuing to this very day). Due to the finicky nature of its collection and the difficulty in obtaining the resin, it was highly valued in ancient times, and was even considered de facto currency, tradable for any other commodity throughout nearly the whole world. It was a common form of tribute, generally given to royalty and people of renown. It was also frequently employed in religious rituals, and, due to its expensive nature, was a commodity accessible only to the most affluent. In spite of its already expensive and rare status, the ancients furthered its highly covetable nature and apparent rarity by concocting tall tales about the difficulties of its gathering. It was believed that the frankincense tree was a favoured home of highly venomous serpents and those special methods of gathering was necessary in order to collect the resins safely. Such stories, reported by a number of ancient historians such as Herodotus, furthered fueled the appeal and mystique of frankincense, making it among the most prized of all ancient commodities – a status that it retained until well into the Middle Ages.

 

The use of frankincense extended well beyond the borders of Arabia and North Africa, as it was traded throughout the major empires of the day. It was known to both Western and Eastern courts as a costly substance, and was lauded near miraculous properties. The popularity of frankincense helped to facilitate trade and industry in the Middle East, although by the advent of the Christian Era its usage somewhat declined due to the disinclination of early Christians to employ the substance and was, for a time, limited only to Judaic and Islamic religious groups. Later on, the use of frankincense was reintegrated into the Christian rites and rituals, and the trade soon began to flourish once more, albeit at a lesser rate. It was not until the Middle Ages that the interest and demand for frankincense once again grew, although by that time, it was employed more as a medicinal compound and as an additive for perfumery. Frankincense resin is generally graded into different types, depending upon the species of Boswellia from which it was harvested, and depending upon the colour, aroma, age, shape, size, and purity of the resin. The resin may vary in colour from pale yellow, golden yellow, amber, goldenbrown, and even white (generally, the lighter the colour, the more potent the aroma, and the more expensive the variety). Some specimens may even contain impurities that render it checked or freckled in black or brown. Because frankincense sap ‘coagulates’ the moment it is exposed to air, larger, naturally formed chunks or clumps are more prized that smaller ones, although large clumps are often broken down manually upon harvesting to increase the overall yield. Unbroken clumps of frankincense, depending upon the hue, tend to be more costly than broken ones, in spite of being derived from the same species of Boswellia, and in spite of possessing the same hues.

 

Nowadays, the three most popular ‘artisanal’ types of frankincense resin are the Silver, Hojari, and Maydi varieties, although there is conflicting opinions on which of the three should rank as the best. Easterners often attest that Silver frankincense ranks as the finest grade of incense, although Western preferences veer more towards the Hojari variants. Maydi frankincense, while still expensive, is well below the qualities of either Silver or Hojari. One reason for the apparent disparity in opinion may be due to the differences in climate, which can also play an integral role in the quality and fineness of the aromas released by burning incense.

 

Common / Popular Uses

Frankincense has long been employed by many cultures as an aromatic substance, almost always consumed as a commodity by burning the fragrant resin in a low fire or ember, generally the help of charcoal, coal, or some other similar substance or method, wherewith it’s various volatile essences and its aroma is released. Its use as a fumigator, incense, and aromatic compound has been the mainstay of its usage since ancient times, with the practice having been retained to this very day. It is most commonly used as a ritualistic fumigation substance, reserved for specific rites and rituals of blessing and / or consecration. It is generally considered an indispensible feature of Christian rituals, especially in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity, although it also plays an integral role in Judaic and Islamic rites and rituals as well.

 

Aside from this most basic usage, the aromatic oils and other substances found in the frankincense resin has also been employed by fields such as perfumery and aromatherapy. It has even been used medicinally as a therapeutic, restorative, and preservative substance since the olden days (even having been used as an embalming substance by the Egyptians). Its primary medicinal action was as a fumigating agent, believed in those days to drive away illness, alleviate depression, help decongestion, and cure minor ailments such as headaches and flu. Aside from its use as a fumigator, this resin is also edible, and may be melted, added onto other medicinal remedies, diluted with oil, or its essence otherwise extracted and employed medicinally. One of the earliest medicinal uses of frankincense can be traced back to Ancient China and the then prototypical system of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The frankincense resin, which was shipped in moderate to moderately large quantities into mainland China from traders in the Arabian peninsula, were employed as fumigators, first and foremost, and as a choice ingredient for stick-incense. The fumigation of frankincense alone was believed to help alleviate anxiety, invigorate the body, promote sleep, help with decongestion, and reduce the recurrence or occurrence of spasms. Being edible, it was commonly given as an oral remedy for bronchitis, abdominal pain, toxemia, and circulatory problems. It was believed by Chinese herbalists to help dispel blood stasis, detoxify the body, and tonify the circulatory and digestive systems. When applied topically, usually diluted in oil and heated, it was employed to help regenerate injured skin, heal minor to moderate injuries, cure sores, acne, carbuncles, and a number of other topical fungal ailments, as well as act as a local topical analgesic and anti-inflammatory.

 

Frankincense, whether applied topically, consumed orally, or inhaled, is also said to invigorate and strengthen the heart, improve the functions of the spleen and liver, and tonify the blood. It is classified as a yang or warming tonic in the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is known for its acrid, bitter, sometimes highly disagreeable taste.

 

The Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Mesopotamians likewise employed frankincense medicinally, although the former, more so than the latter two, used it the most for a wide array of different applications. While the Assyrians and Mesopotamians may have probably employed frankincense chiefly for ritualistic and magickal purposes, the Ancient Egyptians used it as a medicine, although its primary purpose seemed to veer more towards the cosmetic field. The charred remnants of frankincense was employed by the Egyptians as a rudimentary eyeliner called khol (not to be confused with the mineral substance of the same name), and, when infused in powerful spirits or otherwise mixed with organic antiseptic substances, it was also employed as potent disinfectant. Khol was used by Egyptians of all classes to help cut down on the discomfort brought about by the harsh, unforgiving desert sun. The inherent antimicrobial properties found in frankincense also protected their eyes from diseases like conjunctivitis, sore eyes, and other ocular discomforts. It was not until the addition of galena (lead sulfide), sulfur, and other mineral substances during the latter Dynastic Periods that khol soon became toxic and unfit for general usage.

 

Outside of ocular cosmetics, frankincense was also melted down and used as a primitive dilapitory agent in much the same way that hot waxes, esters, and even caramelized sucrose-based substances are employed today. It was also employed as a balm or salve, usually in its melted state, or otherwise mixed with one’s choice of a base oil, and applied to wounds, minor injuries, localised swellings, topical infections, and rheumy or arthritic areas to promote healing, disinfection, and pain relief. In pre and postBiblical times, societies such as the Berber and Bedu often employed melted frankincense as a cosmetic, a beauty agent, and a rudimentary perfume.

 

In India and the Levant, frankincense resin was employed chiefly for medicinal purposes. In Ayurvedic medicine, frankincense resin is generally melted down with coconut oil and applied topically for therapeutic purposes. It’s Ayurvedic medicinal properties are similar to the properties ascribed in Traditional Chinese Medicine, although it is more commonly employed as a fumigating agent more than a topical or oral medicine. In the Western sphere of alternative medicine, frankincense is used chiefly for perfumery, although it did play a semi-medicinal and semi-magickal therapeutic role in the Middle Ages, where it was considered an analgesic, a rubifacient, and a skin restorative. The most common employ of frankincense in the Middle Ages however was as a religious incense, most frequently preferred by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Well into the latter days of the Middle Ages, until the time of the Enlightenment, frankincense soon became a staple of perfumery, with recent technology for those times having managed to extract the volatile compounds of the resins, allowing it to be mixed with essential oils and other substances for the creation of perfumes. While its employment in perfumery dates back to ancient times, it was not until the latter parts of the 1700s that better methods of extracting its volatile essences were developed. It was initially only used by melting the resins and mixing it with a base oil of choice, along with whatever available organic fragrance was in vogue for the times. The perfumery world still continues to use frankincense is signature perfumes and expensive scents, although its lemonine scent and warm, somewhat spicy aroma tends to be somewhat overpowering and out of favour with more modern preferences, save in perfumes chiefly marketed towards a more masculine or mature audience.

 

The modern medicinal applications of frankincense remain similar to that of ancient prescriptions, although it is now only rarely taken orally. The most common modern applications for frankincense veers towards the topical more so than the internal, although some rare remedies (such as for bronchitis, general malaise, depression, and toxemia) may advise the internal intake of frankincense.

 

The practice is more commonplace in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, while Western alternative medicines tend to favour topical applications. The resin itself or the steam-distilled essential oil of the resin is often still given to individuals who suffer from colitis, bronchitis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and intestinal disorders. When employed for aromatherapy, it is generally prescribed for individuals who suffer from depression or anxiety, either as a massage oil, or as a fumigator. Recent studies have reported that burning frankincense resin releases psychoactive substances that help to alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress. Modern herbalists may also create healing balms or salves which contain moderate amounts of essential oil of frankincense and prescribe it for skin toning and rejuvenation.

 

Aside from its minor applications in the modern cosmetic and alternative pharmaceutical industry, frankincense is still employed for religous rites and ceremonies throughout nearly all parts of the globe, irrespective of sect or religious affiliation.

 

Estoeric / Magickal Uses

Frankincense is among the most esoterically-employed of all ancient commodities, having been used chiefly for religious and magickal rites since its discovery in the Arabian Peninsula and the African hinterlands. The Sumerians, Akkadians, and even the Assyrians used it for religious and magickal rites – a practice which was adopted by the Ancient Egyptians, and which spread throughout much of the ancient world. It is a choice item for three major Religions of the Book – namely, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, which have employed it for various purposes since the earliest foundations of their beliefs. Judaism and Islam often employ frankincense as a primary ingredient in sanctifying and blessing oils such as the Ha Ketoret of Orthodox Judaism. Its sister faiths (i. e. Christianity and Islam) also employ similar oils for anointing individuals, either as a rite of passage, or as an act of blessing. The Judaeo-Christian religion in particular often combines it with another aromatic resinous substance – myrrh – in the creation of sanctifying incense mixtures. Religions both within and outside of the Judaeo-Christo-Islamic context also employ frankincense as an offertory item, generally burnt and ‘fed’ to deities or spirits, or otherwise employed in the belief that it helps to drive away illness, malignant spirits, or misfortune, or ‘sacrificed’ in the idea that it is found pleasing to a god or gods. It is universally accepted as a very potent protective compound, and is generally used by many religions as an incense used for exorcism rites. When employed in the purely Western ceremonial magickal context, frankincense plays a major role in empowering, de-hexing, protection, and banishing spells. Its aroma is said to be intolerable to daemons and all other forms of malignant entities, while it is pleasing to any form of holy or sacred entity. NonJudaeo-Christo-Islamic religions generally use frankincense for invocation and evocation, as it is believed to represent fire and masculine force (and hence is offered to many Solar Deities). It is used to charge objects and is among the few magickal substances that banish negative energy and charge or imbue a being or an object with positive energy simultaneously.

 

In Eastern esoteric practice, sticks of incense made from frankincense resin is burnt to help calm and still the mind, facilitate in focus and mental clarity, as well as drive away illness. It is most often burnt as an aid to meditation, or employed as a consecrating and protective smudge. While employing frankincense either topically or internally for medicinal purposes is generally considered safe, pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid the consumption of oral remedies which contain frankincense as it may be detrimental to the proper development of the foetus. Furthermore, individuals who suffer from skin asthma or a severe sensitivity of the skin should also avoid over-using topical remedies containing frankincense for prolonged periods. In spite of its long-standing reputation as a remedy for bronchial complaints and asthma, it should only be used sparingly, lest it aggravate the disease. When used as an incense, or otherwise partaken of topically or orally in minute to moderate doses, it is generally considered safe for long-term usage.

 

Source:

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Anthropomancy

Anthropomancy


Divination of human entrails. This horrid form of divination is very ancient. Herodotus wrote that Menelaus practiced it when detained in Egypt because of contrary winds. Because of his barbarous curiosity he sacrificed two country children in order to discover his destiny.

Also, Heligabalus practiced anthropomancy.


Julian the Apostate incorporated anthropomancy in his magical operations. He had large numbers of children killed so he could read their entrails. During his last experiment at Carra, in Mesopotamia, he enclosed himself within the Temple of the Moon, and having performed all manner of evil within, he had the Temple doors sealed and placed a guard there so no one would enter until his return. However, he was killed in battle with the Persians. When men of Julian’s successor entered the Temple at Carra they discovered a woman hanging by her hair with her liver torn out.


It is speculated that the infamous Gilles De Laval also performed such hideous species of this divination.

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Yuletide Herb – Frankincense

Frankincense

Botanical: Boswellia Thurifera Family:

N.O Burseraceae

 

—Synonym—Olibanum.

—Part Used—The gum resin.

—Habitat—Arabia, Somaliland.

 


—Description—Obtained from the leafy forest tree Boswellia Thurifera, with leaves deciduous, alternate towards the tops of branches, unequally pinnated; leaflets in about ten pairs with an odd one opposite, oblong, obtuse, serrated, pubescent, sometimes alternate; petioles short. Flowers, white or pale rose on short pedicels in single axillary racemes shorter than the leaves. Calyx, small five-toothed, persistent; corolla with five obovate-oblong, very patent petals, acute at the base, inserted under the margin of the disk, acstivation slightly imbricative. Stamens, ten, inserted under the disk, alternately shorter; filaments subulate, persistent. Anthers, caducous, oblong. Torus a cupshaped disk, fleshy, larger than calyx, crenulated margin. Ovary, oblong, sessile. Style, one caducous, the length of the stamens; stigma capitate, three-lobed. Fruit capsular, three-angled three-celled, three-valved, septicidal, valves hard. Seeds, solitary in each cell surrounded by a broad membranaceous wing. Cotyledons intricately folded multifid.

The trees on the Somali coast grow, without soil, out of polished marble rocks, to which they are attached by a thick oval mass of substances resembling a mixture of lime and mortar. The young trees furnish the most valuable gum, the older yielding merely a clear, glutinous fluid, resembling coral varnish.

To obtain the Frankincense, a deep, longitudinal incision is made in the trunk of the tree and below it a narrow strip of bark 5 inches in length is peeled off. When the milk-like juice which exudes has hardened by exposure to the air, the incision is deepened. In about three months the resin has attained the required degree of consistency, hardening into yellowish ‘tears.’ The large, clear globules are scraped off into baskets and the inferior quality that has run down the tree is collected separately. The season for gathering lasts from May till the middle of September, when the first shower of rain puts a close to the gathering for that year.

The coast of Southern Arabia is yearly visited by parties of Somalis, who pay the Arabs for the privilege of collecting Frankincense, and in the interior of the country, about the plain of Dhofar, during the southwest Monsoon, Frankincense and other gums are gathered by the Bedouins. (The incense of Dhofar is alluded to by the Portuguese poet, Camoens.)

 

—Constituents—Resins 65 per cent, volatile oil 6 per cent, water-soluble gum 20 per cent, bassorin 6 to 8 per cent, plant residue 2 to 4 per cent; the resins are composed of boswellic acid and alibanoresin.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—It is stimulant, but seldom used now internally, though formerly was in great repute . Pliny mentions it as an antidote to hemlock. Avicenna (tenth century) recommends it for tumours, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery and fevers. In China it is used for leprosy.

Its principal use now is in the manufacture of incense and pastilles. It is also used in plasters and might be substituted for Balsam of Peru or Balsam or Tolu. The inhalation of steam laden with the volatile portion of the drug is said to relieve bronchitis and laryngitis.

The ceremonial incense of the Jews was compounded of four ‘sweet scents,’ of which pure Frankincense was one, pounded together in equal proportion. It is frequently mentioned in the Pentateuch. Pure Frankincense formed part of the meet offering and was also presented with the shew-bread every Sabbath day. With other spices, it was stored in a great chamber of the House of God at Jerusalem.

According to Herodotus, Frankincense to the amount of 1,000 talents weight was offered every year, during the feast of Bel, on the great altar of his temple in Babylon. The religious use of incense was as common in ancient Persia as in Babylon and Assyria. Herodotus states that the Arabs brought every year to Darius as tribute 1,000 talents of Frankincense, and the modern Parsis of Western India still preserve the ritual of incense.

Frankincense, though the most common, never became the only kind of incense offered to the gods among the Greeks. According to Pliny, it was not sacrificially employed in Trojan times. Among the Romans, the use of Frankincense (alluded to as mascula thura by Virgil in the Eclogues) was not confined to religious ceremonials. It was also used on state occasions, and in domestic life.

The kohl, or black powder with which the Egyptian women paint their eyelids, is made of charred Frankincense, or other odoriferous resin mixed with Frankincense. Frankincense is also melted to make a depilatory, and it is made into a paste with other ingredients to perfume the hands. A similar practice is described by Herodotus as having been practiced by the women of Scythia and is alluded to in Judith x. 3 and 4. In cold weather, the Egyptians warm their rooms with a brazier whereon incense is burnt, Frankincense, Benzoin and Aloe wood being chiefly used for the purpose.

The word ‘incense,’ meaning originally the aroma given off with the smoke of any odoriferous substance when burnt, has been gradually restricted almost exclusively to Frankincense, which has always been obtainable in Europe in greater quantity than any other of the aromatics imported from the East.

There is no fixed formula for the incense now used in the Christian churches of Europe, but it is recommended that Frankincense should enter as largely as possible intoits composition. In Rome, Olibanum alone is employed: in the Russian church, Benzoin is chiefly employed.

The following is a formula for an incense used in the Roman Church: Olibanum, 10 OZ. Benzoin, 4 oz. Storax, 1 OZ. Break into small pieces and mix.

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Herb of the Day for April 6th – FRANKINCENSE

Herb of the Day for April 6th

Frankincense

Botanical: Boswellia Thurifera
Family: N.O Burseraceae

—Synonym—Olibanum.
—Part Used—The gum resin.
—Habitat—Arabia, Somaliland.

—Description—Obtained from the leafy forest tree Boswellia Thurifera, with leaves deciduous, alternate towards the tops of branches, unequally pinnated; leaflets in about ten pairs with an odd one opposite, oblong, obtuse, serrated, pubescent, sometimes alternate; petioles short. Flowers, white or pale rose on short pedicels in single axillary racemes shorter than the leaves. Calyx, small five-toothed, persistent; corolla with five obovate-oblong, very patent petals, acute at the base, inserted under the margin of the disk, acstivation slightly imbricative. Stamens, ten, inserted under the disk, alternately shorter; filaments subulate, persistent. Anthers, caducous, oblong. Torus a cupshaped disk, fleshy, larger than calyx, crenulated margin. Ovary, oblong, sessile. Style, one caducous, the length of the stamens; stigma capitate, three-lobed. Fruit capsular, three-angled three-celled, three-valved, septicidal, valves hard. Seeds, solitary in each cell surrounded by a broad membranaceous wing. Cotyledons intricately folded multifid.

The trees on the Somali coast grow, without soil, out of polished marble rocks, to which they are attached by a thick oval mass of substances resembling a mixture of lime and mortar. The young trees furnish the most valuable gum, the older yielding merely a clear, glutinous fluid, resembling coral varnish.

To obtain the Frankincense, a deep, longitudinal incision is made in the trunk of the tree and below it a narrow strip of bark 5 inches in length is peeled off. When the milk-like juice which exudes has hardened by exposure to the air, the incision is deepened. In about three months the resin has attained the required degree of consistency, hardening into yellowish ‘tears.’ The large, clear globules are scraped off into baskets and the inferior quality that has run down the tree is collected separately. The season for gathering lasts from May till the middle of September, when the first shower of rain puts a close to the gathering for that year.

The coast of Southern Arabia is yearly visited by parties of Somalis, who pay the Arabs for the privilege of collecting Frankincense, and in the interior of the country, about the plain of Dhofar, during the southwest Monsoon, Frankincense and other gums are gathered by the Bedouins. (The incense of Dhofar is alluded to by the Portuguese poet, Camoens.)

—Constituents—Resins 65 per cent, volatile oil 6 per cent, water-soluble gum 20 per cent, bassorin 6 to 8 per cent, plant residue 2 to 4 per cent; the resins are composed of boswellic acid and alibanoresin.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—It is stimulant, but seldom used now internally, though formerly was in great repute . Pliny mentions it as an antidote to hemlock. Avicenna (tenth century) recommends it for tumours, ulcers, vomiting, dysentery and fevers. In China it is used for leprosy.

Its principal use now is in the manufacture of incense and pastilles. It is also used in plasters and might be substituted for Balsam of Peru or Balsam or Tolu. The inhalation of steam laden with the volatile portion of the drug is said to relieve bronchitis and laryngitis.

The ceremonial incense of the Jews was compounded of four ‘sweet scents,’ of which pure Frankincense was one, pounded together in equal proportion. It is frequently mentioned in the Pentateuch. Pure Frankincense formed part of the meet offering and was also presented with the shew-bread every Sabbath day. With other spices, it was stored in a great chamber of the House of God at Jerusalem.

According to Herodotus, Frankincense to the amount of 1,000 talents weight was offered every year, during the feast of Bel, on the great altar of his temple in Babylon. The religious use of incense was as common in ancient Persia as in Babylon and Assyria. Herodotus states that the Arabs brought every year to Darius as tribute 1,000 talents of Frankincense, and the modern Parsis of Western India still preserve the ritual of incense.

Frankincense, though the most common, never became the only kind of incense offered to the gods among the Greeks. According to Pliny, it was not sacrificially employed in Trojan times. Among the Romans, the use of Frankincense (alluded to as mascula thura by Virgil in the Eclogues) was not confined to religious ceremonials. It was also used on state occasions, and in domestic life.

The kohl, or black powder with which the Egyptian women paint their eyelids, is made of charred Frankincense, or other odoriferous resin mixed with Frankincense. Frankincense is also melted to make a depilatory, and it is made into a paste with other ingredients to perfume the hands. A similar practice is described by Herodotus as having been practiced by the women of Scythia and is alluded to in Judith x. 3 and 4. In cold weather, the Egyptians warm their rooms with a brazier whereon incense is burnt, Frankincense, Benzoin and Aloe wood being chiefly used for the purpose.

The word ‘incense,’ meaning originally the aroma given off with the smoke of any odoriferous substance when burnt, has been gradually restricted almost exclusively to Frankincense, which has always been obtainable in Europe in greater quantity than any other of the aromatics imported from the East.

There is no fixed formula for the incense now used in the Christian churches of Europe, but it is recommended that Frankincense should enter as largely as possible intoits composition. In Rome, Olibanum alone is employed: in the Russian church, Benzoin is chiefly employed.

The following is a formula for an incense used in the Roman Church: Olibanum, 10 OZ. Benzoin, 4 oz. Storax, 1 OZ. Break into small pieces and mix.

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