As well as making use of herbs as plants, decorations and for healing, their most important use in magic was – and still is – in incense. Incense symbolizes the Element Air and the spiritual realms and has been part of ritual use by occultists and priests alike for thousands of years. Granular incense, with its basis of resins and gums, sweet-smelling woods and herbs is nowadays usually preferred for magical workings or ritual worship. It has a magic all of its own. For this reason a good incense burner will be one of your most important tools. You should choose this carefully, and not just for its aesthetic sense, because it is vital that the incense is allowed to burn properly.
Egypt became especially renowned for its high standard of blending and the use of ritual incense. There was a particular class of incense – which is still available today – called Khyphi. It required magical techniques and the finest ingredients for its manufacture. Some incense were mind-altering and could produce trance-like states in users.
For short spells, joss-sticks work very well, though they are not to everyone’s taste. Dhoop, or incense cones as they are known, are another way of using the same material.
By far the best method is to burn the granular type on a charcoal disc which is lit and placed in a fireproof receptacle. The incense is then piled onto the concave surface and allowed to do its work. You should dispose of the discs very carefully, dousing them with water and ensuring they are no longer hot. You might like to bury what remains of the incense as an offering to the Earth.
Many of the herbs we have already encountered are suitable for incense, if you wish to make your own. You should choose your correspondences carefully, according to your spell. You will soon find out through experimentation what works for you.
When blending your own granular incense it is important to use a pestle and mortar to grind and mix all the ingredients together properly. You may wish to consecrate your pestle and mortar first. Granular incense usually consists of a base of incense gums to which are added the woods and herbs of choice before the mixture is blended using fragrant oils.