‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for January 2nd

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Have you ever known someone whose very presence comforted you? They seem to have no need of words, but their quiet companionship soothes  like balm to the soul. These are your kindred souls who have already been the route you’re traveling, or are just ahead and leaning back to take your hand.

Wherever you are on the path of life, there have been many these before you. It may seem the loneliness of the road has many empty echoes. But there have been many good people concerned enough to make an effort to mark the rougher places to allow your journey easier traveling.

And like all travelers we must look for those signs and make them more plain to the ones who will follow.

And then, in quiet communication, we can each take our turn by understanding.

How often we see people who desperately need our help. We would like to help them, but we put it out of our minds because it seems beyond our means and beyond our strength. We use the excuse that we have enough problems of our own without going out on a limb for someone else. Charity begins at home and at home and at home.

If we have the true desire, and the welfare of someone else in our sights, we can ask divine guidance, and we will receive help. If help does not come, it is because we were not truly serious. Or perhaps whatever we wanted to do is not in the best interests of all concerned. Our help may only have slowed their progress or weakened their efforts. If our desires are worthy we need have no fear that a way will come to help.

The desire to help is a divine gift, and we accept it most beautifully by using it.

_________________________________

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 2

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 2

“People have to be responsible for their thoughts, so they have to learn to control them. It may not be easy, but it can be done.

–Rolling Thunder, CHEROKEE

WE control our thoughts by controlling our self talk. At any moment we choose we can talk to ourselves differently. The fight comes with the emotions that are attached to our thoughts. If our emotion is high and seems to be out of control, we can say to ourselves STOP IT!, take a few deep breaths, then ask the Creator for the right thought or the right decision or the right action. If we practice this for a while, our thought life will be different. It helps if in the morning we ask God to direct our thinking. God loves to help us.

Great Spirit, today, direct my thinking so my choices are chosen by You.

January 2 – Daily Feast

January 2 – Daily Feast

 

This morning, snow wrapped every tree and rock in soft white, and promised to keep the outline of distant hills hidden against a gray sky. But it could not keep its promise. After a few hours the sun came out and turned it all into nature’s jewelry, beautiful dew gems sparkling on the grass. We can be so busy that we miss the little things that sweeten life, the way a pet waits to be noticed, the way an owl, a wahuhi, hoots in the woods, and a blue jay chortles in the middle of winter. It is a lovely thing to turn away from busy work to pay attention to our loved things and loved ones. We know how we wait to be told we are important. We should never wait to say or think something beautiful that will make someone’s day easier and more secure.

~ We do not want riches. We want peace and love. ~

RED CLOUD – 1870

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

The Daily Motivator for January 2nd – Your next step

Your next step

In any undertaking, the first step is vitally important. Just as important,  though, is the next step.

It’s great and exciting to make a strong start. Yet what really makes a  difference is continuing the effort after the initial excitement fades.

Success is achieved not just by taking the first, impressive and exciting  step. Success comes from taking the next step, and the next and the next, until  the work is done.

Today is your opportunity, with each thing you’ve started, to take the next  step. Today is when success is built.

The next step may not be as glamorous as the first step or the last. Yet it  is precisely that next step that will take you from the hopeful beginning to the  successful finish.

Honor your commitment by taking the next step. The path to success is here  and now, so keep on going and make that success yours.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for January 2nd – In the Thick of It

In the Thick of It
Working from Center

by Madisyn Taylor

When you feel you are in the thick of things, tapping into your own inner resources will help bring strength.

When we are “in the thick of it, overwhelmed by too many things that need our attention, it’s important to remember that we are never given more than we can handle. When life’s challenges make us question this, our best coping mechanism is to follow the reliable and well-known course to our calm center and anchor ourselves there. It is for these times that we have been practicing regularly, so that our mind, body, and spirit will know how to find the peace within. Even in the midst of seeming chaos, a deep breath can help us turn within to find the space to work from, the calm at the center of the storm.

Tapping into our inner resources we begin again, bringing our focus to the needs of the present moment. Asking “why? shifts our energy away from the task at hand. We can seek answers to those questions once we get to the other side of the present challenge. For now, we accept what is. Once we have collected scattered energy and created space, inspiration will strike, help will arrive, and what seemed impossible will either become possible or we will find it has become unnecessary. The flow of the universe and its perfect order has room to move in our lives when we get ourselves and our extraneous thoughts out of the way.

After the thick has become thin again, we have the opportunity to learn from the situation with a better idea of our true capabilities. We can now ask ourselves the “why questions with the goal of fine-tuning our lives. Perhaps we have taken on more than is ours to do or made commitments out of obligation rather than insight. It could just be the ebb and flow and life, or we may be receiving life lessons on a fast track in preparation for something wonderful to come. But when we have a chance to make new choices, we know the best ones are made when we work from center.

The Daily OM

Protecting Yourself and Your Home: A Basic Warding Ritual

Protecting Yourself and Your Home: A Basic Warding Ritual

Author: GeekyValkyrie

Have you ever moved into a new home and thought to yourself, “Gosh this place feels so empty and sterile! I wonder how to make it feel more like home quickly?” Worse yet, have you ever thought to yourself, “Eww, this place feels chaotic! It makes me feel like a nervous wreck! How can I cleanse it and make it feel calm again?” Conversely, have you ever walked into someone else’s home and thought, “Wow, their home feels so safe, protected, and relaxing. I wonder how I can make my home feel that way?”

All three questions can be answered with one word: Warding. Mirriam-Webster identifies the etymology of the transitive verb “ward” as Middle English. It means to guard or watch over, or to turn aside (as in the phrase “trying to ward off a cold”) . A warding ritual puts up a kind of permanent circle that protects you and your home from unwanted outside influences. It can also help your home feel safe, inviting, and relaxing.

The following warding ritual is based on one my high priest teaches our coven. I have used it for several years with excellent results.

Determine the extent of your wards

This particular ritual requires walking the perimeter of the space to be warded. If you are a homeowner and you’d like to ward your entire lot, you will need to walk the borders of your property line outside your home. If you are warding an entire house, you may choose to walk the exterior perimeter as opposed to the interior. If you live in a condominium or an apartment like myself, the interior perimeter of your home probably works best.

Walking the interior perimeter of a dwelling can be tricky when dealing with interior walls. You may choose to ward them as well or work around them. I prefer to work around them; I usually walk the perimeter as far as I can, then pause my chanting a bit while I walk around to the other side of the interior wall and find the next available space on the perimeter, then I recommence my casting and continue onward.

In addition to warding your entire home, you may wish to place additional wards on specific rooms within your home. Doing so strengthens the protection. I prefer to ward my home first, and then ward my bedroom as well.

Before performing this ritual, please read the important discussion of ethics on warding shared spaces and rental property that follows later in this article.

Gather your materials

I use salt water to represent earth and water together, and burning incense to represent air and fire together. You may combine elements like this or represent them singly using different materials. I have occasionally represented earth with sand, air with a large feather, fire with a candle, and water with ice. Decide if you want to represent the four elements in pairs or singly, and then choose elemental representations that work best for you.

Clear your space

Much the same way you clear a space before casting a circle, you will want to clear your home of negative and chaotic energies before you put up a protective ward. I prefer to walk every room in my home while ringing a bell loudly. Other sound-based cleansings include the usage of singing bowls and clapping hands.

Cleansing may be also done with smoke or scent, as in smudging with sage smoke or heating essential oils like sandalwood or peppermint. Even something as simple as opening windows to allow in sunshine and fresh air can accomplish the goal of cleansing. The idea is to chase away any negative or disruptive energy so that your home is fresh, clean, and calm before the ritual. Remember, you want your wards to keep the good stuff inside and the bad stuff outside!

Perform your ritual

Choose which elemental representation to use first, and carry it with you while you walk the entire perimeter of the space to be warded in a deosil (clockwise) direction. As you walk, visualize the element (s) forming a great barrier going up all around the space. I visualize the four elemental barriers as mountains, waterfalls, leaping flames, and gusty winds full of leaves and sand. Pass the elements over all portals (windows, doors, fireplaces, gates, etc) twice, for extra strength and protection.

As you pass each of the elements over your home in turn, repeat this chant while you walk:

By (element) , I ward thee:
Guard this space from all ill will
and all those who wish me/us harm.

If you are representing the four elements singly, you will circumambulate your space four times, each time chanting the above incantation for the specific element you carry. If you are representing the elements combined in pairs, you will circumambulate your space twice, alternating your chant back and forth between the two elements you carry.

Maintain your wards

With this ritual, you will create living wards that need regular maintenance to stay strong and effective. In a sense, you will need to feed and care for your ward as you would a pet. When I am healthy and my energy levels are up, I strengthen and repair my wards with my own energy.

I will sit in the center of my home with my eyes closed and my palms up, and I visualize pouring my own energy from my palms into the wards around me. A friend of mine touches the front door to her apartment briefly and pours a little energy into her wards that way every time she leaves the house.

Another way to strengthen your wards without depleting yourself is to draw energy from an outside source and channel it into your wards. I have accomplished this by channeling energy drawn from a candle into my wards, and also from warm sunbeams streaming through my windows. How you choose to maintain your wards is up to you, but you must understand that regular maintenance is important to keep your wards strong and effective.

Ethical considerations

What if you share your home with a roommate? What if you rent your home and you’ll be moving out in another eight months? What about common walls shared with other dwellings? As practitioners, we must remain sensitive to the ethical implications of using magic to protect ourselves.

If your home is a shared space with family, significant others, roommates or other housemates, it is important to discuss your intentions with them before performing a warding ritual. It is entirely possible that housemates may feel uncomfortable with the idea of having the home warded. If this is your situation, it is important to respect their point of view. You may present your reasons why you believe warding the space would be beneficial, but I urge you against coercion or secretly warding the home anyway.

If you are unable to reach compromise with your housemates on warding the entire home, you may wish to ward your private space. I once warded my private bedroom in a college dormitory. If your bedroom is shared, you can also simply ward your own bed. This ritual can be made as large or as small as the practitioner requires.

If your home is rented and you plan to move out in the future, it is important to dispel and dismiss all wards and energies before you leave. The same is true if you are selling your house to new homeowners. Just as you wouldn’t ward a shared space without informed consent from other housemates, you also don’t want to leave behind any magical residue to pollute the environment for unsuspecting new residents. Information on how to dispel your wards follows in the next section.

Regardless of how you choose to bring your wards down, it is ethically imperative that you ground or dismiss any remaining energy residue so as to leave the space clean and fresh for the next residents. To help you accomplish this goal, you may wish to follow dismissal with a cleansing of the space like those mentioned previously in this article.

Common walls with other dwellings frequently occur in rental housing (apartments, duplexes, etc.) as well as in condominiums. It is mainly for this reason that I suggest walking the interior perimeter of apartments and condominiums. Unless you have your neighbors’ permission to perform rituals on their space, it is important that any ritual energies you work with remain contained inside your own dwelling.

In this case, it is important that your ward barriers stop where your walls do. Please take care that your ward barriers do not extrude into the living room or bedroom of your neighbors on the other side of your dining room wall. Similarly, be cautious that your wards do not spill outside your exterior walls into walkways or common areas around your dwelling.

Dismissing your wards

Whether you are leaving a rented dwelling, selling your house, or if you just need a fresh start, there are almost as many ways to tear down and dismiss your wards as there are ways to bring down a ritual circle. You may choose to circumambulate the space in a widdershins (counterclockwise) direction and dismiss the energies as you go. You can also sit stationary in the space and draw all the energies through you and ground them into the earth, leaving nothing behind.

A friend of mine dismisses his wards by element, much as many dismiss quarters after a ritual. Working in a widdershins fashion, he faces each of the cardinal directions in turn. He humbly thanks each element for its protection and dismisses it gratefully.

I prefer to stand somewhere in the center of the warded space and picture the energy barriers around me. I hold my arms straight up and reach with my hands as though I could touch the ceiling of the ward. I visualize ripping a small hole in the ward, and then gripping the edges of the hole, I bring my arms down to my sides, tearing the ward down around me and grounding the energies at my feet. You may also wish to follow dismissal with any of the cleansing rituals mentioned previously.

Make your wards your own

This ritual is fairly simple and straightforward. Try using it as a base upon which to build and create your own personal warding ritual. Remember to determine the extent of your ward ahead of time, and always consider the ethics of your particular situation. When gathering your materials, do not be afraid to use your favorite elemental representations, even if they are different from examples listed here.

Clearing your space can be as simple as smudging with sage, or as complex as performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, it’s up to you to decide which cleansing works best for you.

The incantation must serve its intended purpose, but it need not be as bare and simple as the one suggested here. Try expounding upon it, adding to it, making it rhyme, singing it, and even dancing if you wish.

Finally, it is imperative that your wards receive proper maintenance. I’ve offered examples of different ways to make certain your wards have adequate energy to perform their intended task. You may expound upon these examples in any manner that you find works well. The most important points of warding are covered here. How exactly you choose to carry them out and make them your own are entirely up to you.

Footnotes:
I am a member of the coven Goethe’s Garden, which has a listing here at WitchVox. My High Priest has used this ritual for many years, and he passed it on to me during my year-and-a-day dedication. I share it with you with his permission.

The Memory of a Scent

The Memory of a Scent

Author:   Bliss Diva   

Sometimes we all just need to breathe. Breathe in the dozens of scents on the earth. Everything has a scent: the rain, the soil, the cold, the warm, the snow, the sunshine, the fire, the wind…everything has a smell.

I fill myself with these smells each day. I breathe them in, and each one evokes a different emotion, a different sensation, and a different memory.

I sit in my room, the smoke of my new Dragon’s Blood incense swirling around me. The scent takes me back to a time in eighth grade, when my friend Kat and I were at our friend Hayley’s house. We were sitting on her floor, listening to Evanescence and talking about Wicca when we decided to go astral traveling.

And so we set down a blanket, cast a circle, lit candles and Dragon’s Blood incense at each of the four corners, set Kat’s crystal in the middle (the crystal was red, and set me in a trance just by looking at it) , and held hands to astral travel together. We all were in a light trance, and I opened my eyes just for a moment.

The smoke from the incense was filling the room; dulling the candlelight and making everything look magickal. The smoke seemed to twist and turn, revealing images of roaring dragons, giggling, mischievous pixies, and all sorts of other creatures, smelling of the Otherworld.

When I looked at Kat and Hayley, they still had their eyes closed and seemed unbothered by the strange forms surrounding them. The smoke creatures tickled my arms, and when I blinked, their images went away, so perhaps it was just my imagination.

And still the scents of the world evoke images and feelings within me.

The smell of bacon simmering on the pan reminds me of when I was little, and I used to steal my dad’s bacon when he turned away.

The smell of the Anchor River tickles my noise and reminds me of the days I spent inner tubing.

The sweet scent of the snow takes me back to times skiing at the Alyeska Ski Resort.

Indeed, even the moonlight has a scent. I lay in my bed at night, the moon sending shivering warmth down upon my bed, and I bask in the moonlight’s scent; a scent I can never even begin to name or describe.

Can we give a scent a name? A scent is a distant memory, long forgotten. A scent is an emotion we cannot explain. A scent is the silent dance that weaves its way through the air.

Your nose can name and recognize a million different smells. The nose is still not completely understood by modern science. It’s a wonder how the nose can pick up smells from far away, how it can place them, how it can recognize them, how it can recall them from your distant memory. And when there is a smell you have not smelled before, it relates the smell to past smells and scrambles around in your brain for a word to call it. And once it smells a smell, it never forgets it.

Can you recall the first scent you have smelled?

Is it the scent of your mother’s blood as you burst out of her, screaming and crying for grief of leaving the warm womb?

Is it the scent of your mother’s breast milk?

Is it the scent of the room in which you were born?

Or perhaps you can’t remember that time. Maybe your first smell was the smell of the dust in the road as you walked to school for the first time.

Maybe it was the smell of your favorite food, just before you ate it for the first time.

Maybe it was the smell of the winter air, as you saw snow for the first time.

Maybe it was the smell of the kitchen, where a million different foods are cooked.

Or maybe it was simply the smell of life, which you continue smelling at this moment.

Perhaps you can evoke the memory of the smell of the Goddess, the first time you experienced Her in all Her beauty, whether it be through astral travel, or through a dream, or when you stepped before a vast mountain range, or when you stepped in front of a huge tree larger than any you’ve ever seen, or when you looked in to the face of the most beautiful girl you’ve ever imagined, or when you held a baby close to your breast.

Can you remember the smell you smelled yesterday?

Can you remember the memory that went along with it?

I remember the smell of tears, running down my mother’s face when her mother died. Though I didn’t remember my grandmother, I cried for her, and I smelled the sea-salt smell of my own tears.

I can remember the smell of the day when my dad began to build our cabin, and the air was heavy with hope and the scent of the coming spring.

I recall the scent of pain, when I burned my finger while camping.

I can recall the smell of my memory itself, thick with nostalgia, regret, comfort, and promise.

Can you recall the scent of yourself?

Can you recall the scents of your memory?

Your sweet scent
Lingers on the sweater I lent you.
The breezed smell
Of the beach we stood on,
Lingers on my jacket,
Just waiting to leave.
Each time I bring myself near to them,
Slip on the sweater,
Or pull on the coat,
I fall into a dreamland.
I am not in love with you, though,
But with Me.
I have fallen in love with
The person you have made me.
I have fallen hard.

As that scent disappears
I can only look back
Through my mind
And the few snapshots
We’d captured on that beach that day
But I soon realize
That I will never forget your scent.
It will linger on me forever,
not matter how much the wind blows
to try to steal it away
or how much time passes…
Your scent and your effect,
Remain in my heart
Never being blown away.

(–A Lingering Scent, by Penny roe, poems-and-quotes.com)

Trail Magic: Creating an incense trail

Trail Magic: Creating an incense trail

Author:   Incense Dragon   

Everyone knows what incense is, don’t they? It’s the little sticks and cones you get at the grocery store that smell like Apple or Musk, right? Well, it hasn’t always been that way.

Incense is one of the oldest tools of magic and ritual but its lore, history and modern hobbyists are virtually unknown to much of the Pagan community. The incense “trail” represents an ancient incense burning technique that is highly applicable to modern magic practices and ritual. I should also mention it’s a great deal of fun.

An incense trail is simply a line of incense powder that is burned. A trail can be as simple as a line of powdered sandalwood on a rock. While this is not the preferred method, you can make it work with practice. This is likely the first form of incense trail, but ancient practice eventually elevated the incense trail to a critical role in society.

Before the availability of high quality, spring-powered clocks there were many different methods employed to keep track of time – especially at night. Among the many devices created were clocks powered by dripping or running water. Although some were fairly accurate, they were no good in freezing conditions or on a swaying ship. There were also candles used to mark the time, but environmental conditions could greatly affect their accuracy. The incense “clock” was another attempt to mark time.

In a bed of pure ash, a line can be pressed into the surface. That depression would then be carefully filled with a powdered incense mixture. When used for timekeeping, a special incense blend was used since its burning times were well known. Special markers were then inserted along this trail of incense. The markers could be used to signal a changing of guards, mealtimes or working hours, but their primary use was to mark times to pray.

Eventually incense clocks were developed that used incense sticks to give even more consistent timing. Incense alarm clocks were eventually created. These sometimes used bells hung from the incense stick with thread. When the stick burned to the thread it would break and the bell would clang to the floor.

This is an extremely condensed look at a fascinating topic. If you have more interest in the ancient use of incense clocks read Silvio Bedini’s book The Trail of Time. It is a rare look at this amazing lost art form.

The good news about all of this is you can start using incense trails yourself. You will need ash, incense powder (powdered sandalwood works great), a heat resistant dish or large incense censer and a match or lighter. It’s best to put your censer where it will be used before you begin to minimize movement.

What should you draw? Just think of the magical possibilities. Symbols are an important part of magic. You can draw symbols for deities, astrological signs, runes or geometric shapes. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. Think of the energy of the slowly burning shape as you raise power in your circle. Use trails to time rituals or to cleanse a space. Trails can elevate your incense from being a part of the magical background to a central part of any ritual.

You might have everything you need in your house except for the required amount of ash. You can harvest ash from some other activity if you wish. Never use ash from your charcoal grill or ashes containing synthetic “fire logs.” Ash from incense censers, campfires and fireplaces can be used but I don’t recommend them. If you use such recycled ash, be certain to sift it through a fine screen and then bake the ash in a warm oven for 20-30 minutes to remove as much scent as possible.

A better solution is to purchase ash specifically for incense use. Ash is an important part of Asian incense traditions (such as the Japanese Kodo ceremony). As a result, many shops that sell Asian incense sell pure ash as well. That’s the best possible source if you plan to make incense trails. The pure white ash is scentless and ready for use.

Simply fill your dish or censer with ash and lightly tamp the censer (you can tap the censer lightly a few times on a sturdy table, but pressing down on the ash with something solid works even better). This is to level the ash and make it a bit firmer. You can then make shallow impressions on the surface of the ash. For this, you can use simple stamps (complex designs don’t work very well) from your local craft store, cookie cutters (insert the cutter about 1/8 of an inch deep and move it very slightly from side to side) or simply draw in the ash with a skewer or toothpick. The edge of a paper card will work as well.

No matter what tool you choose, keep the impressions no more than 1/8 inch deep and try to move the excess ash to the sides of your impressions. Especially when using a toothpick or skewer, the ash might try to build up in front of your tool making it more difficult to draw. Push the ash side to side instead. Just try and create a smooth impression – you might need to trace the shape several times to clear the entire trail.

You are not limited in what you can draw. The important thing to keep in mind is that every one of the lines you draw needs to be connected to another line. You might think of it as a line of dominoes you want to topple. If they don’t touch, the chain will stop. It’s the same with incense. Unlike dominoes, burning incense travels in multiple directions. If you draw a circle of incense, when you light it the incense will burn both directions around the circle. Every junction of lines will be lighted at the same time. I have a pentagram stamp that I made that would originally burn in eight different places at once.

While you can use those burning characteristics to your advantage, in general you want only one point on the line of incense to burn. Otherwise plumes of smoke result. The simplest way to control this it to put “blocks” in place. Use your drawing tool to break the lines of incense with a barrier of ash. You can also place small pieces of metal (in a pinch, a penny will work) in the trail of incense. Once the burning incense reaches the metal, it will go out.

Once you have made an impression in the ash and established any ash blocks you might need, fill the impression with incense powder. This is the trickiest part, although it’s not as tough as it seems at first glance. I’ve experimented with a lot of techniques but have found one to be the easiest. I was actually inspired to it while watching Tibetan monks making a sand painting. They use long metal tubes, tapered at one end, which they fill with colored sand and then gently rub to release the sand from the narrow end. It gives them great control over where every grain of sand goes. I tried this with tubes and met with some success, but when I transitioned to paper cards I found the method I prefer.

Use a 3” X 5” paper card. Fold the card in half in line with the long edge. This gives you a 1 ½ X 5 card. Open the card partially and you have a large cavity you can fill with incense powder. Fill the card about 1/3 full with powder (as I said before, you can just use powdered sandalwood and get great results). Push some of the powder away from one end of the card, so that only a thin line is left at the edge of the card. You can then use that end of the card to fill your impression in the ash.

Put the end of the card just above the impression with the folded edge of the card down. That will make the card a large V-shape with the incense powder held in the center. I like to hold the card in my right hand with the two folded up edges touching the palm of my hand. I then extend the “drawing” end of the card slightly past the palm of my hand. With the end of the card just above the ash and the card at about a 25 degree angle, I tap the end of the card with my left hand. Each tap causes a small bit of incense powder to fall precisely where I want it to go. By gently tapping the card and moving it over every part of the impression in the ash, I can fill the impression to the exact depth I desire.

Once the impression is filled, you can tap or press its surface lightly to get perfect contact, but that’s an optional step. With practice you can fill the impression very well without the need to press it together. The trail looks better without pressing, since that process “blurs” the shape you draw in the ash.

After you’ve drawn an impression and filled it with powder, the incense trail is ready for use. Once the impression is filled, you should move your censer as little as possible. Each time you move it, you could displace the trail and make it harder to see or break the line. If the trail won’t be used immediately, consider covering the censer to keeping wind or drafts from disturbing it.

To light the trail, you can simply apply flame directly to the lighting point you’ve chosen. It’s usually best to light the trail at one end, but you can get a great effect from starting in the middle of the trail. You will need to hold the flame in place for at least 30 seconds to get it burning well. You might notice that where ash and flame meet, the ash becomes discolored. The same will happen as the incense trail burns past the ash. Once the flame is removed, the incense will continue to burn along the path you’ve set for it.

A more elegant way to light the trail is to use stick or cone incense. You can use the stick or cone as a fuse. Set the incense cone directly atop the lighting point on the trail. If using a stick, break off a small section and insert it into the starting point of the trail. If you use so-called “masala” incense sticks (the kind with a wooden rod in the center of the stick), make certain you break off a piece that is completely covered in incense material. The top two inches of stick is best. If you’re using a “joss stick” of incense, any two-inch section will be fine.

Put the cone or stick in place at the starting point (the trailhead, if you will) and light it as you normally would. As the stick or cone burns down to the incense trail, the trail will light. You can also light an incense stick and place it atop the powder parallel to the trail. Some traditions call for lighting an incense stick and then inserting the burning end into the powder.

Incorporating incense trails into your rituals, both large and small, is not only rewarding magically, it’s also a lot of fun. Like any skill, it requires practice to get the exact effect you desire but even first-time trail makers will find it easy and enjoyable. Bring an ancient form magic to your next circle and you won’t be disappointed.

A picture is sometimes worth a million words, so to see pictures of this process, just visit this link:
http://members.cox.net/donalgram/trails.htm

________________________________

Footnotes:
Bedini, Silvio A. – The Trails of Time: Time measurement with incense in East Asia – Cambridge University Press, 1994

Neal, Carl F. – Incense: Crafting and Use of Magickal Scents – Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003

MAKING INCENSE STICKS

MAKING INCENSE STICKS

First: when working with incenses/perfume/dyeing use utensils that you never
ever again use for cooking – some ingredients are not good to ingest
accidentally in your dinner later. Secondly: although I have not had a bad
reaction to any of the recipes given below, you, might indeed, so take care with
their use.

There are available in some supply shops pre-formed ‘punks’ which you can then
steep in the oil combination that you want, let dry and then burn. About 35
drops of oil (approximately 1 tsp/5ml) will soak between 3-8 sticks, depending
on how intense you want the scent to be. You will want to turn them so the oil
is not just soaked up on one side, but uniformly.

Basic recipe is to take some finely powdered sawdust, mix in something to help
it smolder a bit – often a resin or other chemical, some herbs or essential
oils, form it around a fine split piece of bamboo sliver, and let dry. Be
careful of some of the herbs that release small amounts of cyanide when burned,
like bay leaves, or any other toxic substance. Also usable for the sawdust are
powdered dried flower petals or other herbs.

Amounts of sawdust/gums/chemical/herbs/essential oils vary widely depending on what type of incense you are making. To make your own finger formed sticks you want a rather thick paste, but for ‘dipped’ sticks, you will want a much thinner semi liquid goop that you dip the stick into several times.

Since I don’t have access to sawdust as fine as I normally want, I went to the
kitchen spice bottles, and got dried cinnamon to use. Dried woody spices will
substitute nicely for the powdered sawdust – but – since they are not inert,
they -will- affect the use of the incense.

For instance, the following combination is thought by some to invoke the Goddess of the Greenwood if burned in the spring:

4 parts dried powdered violet leaves
2 parts dried honeysuckle flower petals
1 part fresh mint leaves
You are supposed to grind them together, and the liquid from the mint will bind
it together. (Since there is no wood in this, it works better as a loose incense
burned on charcoal, rather than formed into a stick, but I have done both.)

If I were to use dried cinnamon powder as a base, that would very much change
the character of the incense. It would smolder more evenly, but…..I have never
seen violet -leaf- essential oil, synthetic or otherwise commercially available
and that moist spring woodland scent would be lost in the heavy cinnamon base
when burned.

One of the incenses to increase clairvoyance:

2 parts finely ground gum mastic
2 parts frankincense
3 parts ground cinnamon
2 parts dried lavender flowers
1 part gum arabic

assumes that you will heat the gum resins to the melting point in a -heavy-
ceramic vessel stirring constantly with a glass rod, remove them from the heat,
stir in the other ingredients, then when it is cool enough to touch, you will
form it onto the bamboo split. Take great care not to scorch or set aflame the
resin while melting it, and take care not to get it so hot that the stuff
splatters up at you while you are melting it: lower heat may take longer but is
a better choice.

The following incense that was thought to be attractive to the God of the
Greenwood in the autumn (traditionally burned out of doors) is also not a good
one to use cinnamon as a base for:

5 parts dried pine (not spruce or fir) needles gathered from a wild tree
2 parts white sandalwood powder
2 parts powdered Valerian root
1 part cinnamon
3 parts finely ground frankincense
1 part dried cedar bark
1 part dried oak leaves
3 parts dried oakmoss

Again, although you heat the resin until it is melted, and then mix the
ingredients together, the cinnamon is just a small part of the scent
combination. Using it as a base would make it the most pronounced scent and very much change the affect it had.

Many of the ‘oils’ on the market are synthetic in origin, and a good many have
been cut with alcohols. There are many folks who insist on only using the pure
essential oil from natural organic sources. This does seem to make a difference
to some folks, and not much of a one, or none at all to others. YMMV on this.

However, one of the techniques for using the gums is to steep them in an alcohol
base to turn them into a semi-glue like stuff, rather than heating them to the
melting point. If that is what you are doing, the alcohol base becomes useful:
you grind the gums into a fine powder, steep in the essential ‘oils’, then add
the sawdust/dried herbs and then form onto the stick.

One of the simplest incenses to make using this technique is thought to
stimulate the air element by some folks, but frankly, I find this more evocative
of the fire element than air:

3 parts finely ground gum mastic
1-2 parts cinnamon ‘oil’
dried cinnamon powder

Steep the gum in the oil in a tightly sealed glass container, shaking several
times a week until it is ‘melted’ and no lumps or grains are visible. Stir in
enough cinnamon bark to make a stiff paste, then form into cones or onto sticks.

Obviously, this could be used for a basic recipe for other incenses by
substituting the various ‘oils’, either individually or in combination, and
substituting other dried ingredients for the cinnamon – just remember that some
wood/bark will make the incense smolder at a more even rate than an incense
composed of just dried herbs and flower petals.

I steeped the resins in the God of the Greenwood incense above in alcohol based
vetivert ‘oil’ which allowed it to be very easily formed into sticks, although
it is quite stiff from all the other ingredients.

My suggestion is to make incense in the beginning with a single scent in it, and
observe your reaction to it. Then check what the books say – you may respond
differently to a substance than the folklore found there would suggest. After
you have an idea of how you respond, then you can begin working with various
combinations. After all, you may have an allergy to, say, carnations or -any-
other ingredient, including one of the resin gums.

There is another problem with incense recipe books. I have an interest in
gardening and botany. When I see a recipe that calls for Deer’s Tongue, I know
that it is actually calling for the roots/leaves/flowers of a European member of
the gentian family, not my locally available Frasera speciosa (I could –
possibly- substitute the local plant.) How many folks would be looking for a
hunter to bring them some tongue of a deer?

How many folks upon seeing an ingredient Khus Khus would go looking for the
couscous grain product in the kitchen, unaware that it refers to either the
essence of a particular musk deer’s glands or a relative of North American Sweet
Grass used by Native American bands/tribes?

There are other ingredients that are given ‘pet’ names, names that are not known
outside of a specific tradition, so even if you have a recipe, it may not be as
straight forward as it looks on the surface. I have seen numerous books that say
that ‘bay salt’ is sea salt, instead of salt that has had numerous fresh bay
laurel leaves stored in it in a tightly sealed container for several months
until the salt smells of bay leaves.

You need to do a bit of research in several areas before you begin making
incense from some of the traditional recipes if you want to avoid some of the
pitfalls – which in part explains why some groups don’t encourage exploration
into incense making by beginning students.