A Brief History
During the course of history incense has been used to heal the body, pleasure the senses, sooth the soul, beckon spirits, and pacify the Deities. Though the actual origin of incense is still a real mystery, it seems to have been used amongst the earliest of people. Ancient transcripts, dating as far back as 1800 BC speak of the burning of incense in spiritual practice. Most of the incense used in the ancient times was a simple single aroma type such as a tree resins like Copal and Myrrh or aromatic woods and bark.
While the metaphysical aspects of incense have not yet been scientifically verified, practitioners have been contented with the outcome since the beginning of (at least recorded) ancient times. Moreover, scientific findings concerning aromatherapy and the chemical components of essential oils hold some astonishing similarity to the metaphysical aspects. For instance, Lavender is utilized in ceremonial or spell work for protection, spiritual cleansing, and tranquility. Components in lavender oil have been recognized to be quite effective as an antiseptic as well as a great insect repellant. In the aromatherapy practice, lavender is the one of the most widespread fragrance used for comforting and is helpful for centering of one’s consciousness.
How the metaphysical effectiveness of incense precisely works is a topic of great discussion. This tends be contingent principally on your individual philosophies, and precisely how the incense is utilized. In the most basic belief it is thought that incense simply sets the mood. Aromas have been proven time and again to have a profound effect on the emotional state and memory. Many cynics believe it to be no more than a prop. Many mindfulness power based therapists trust it to simply aid one in accessing their own natural powers by opening up the chakras and aiding in reaching their desired state of consciousness.
The vast majority of practitioners believe in a genuine mystic influence of the incense and their compounds. Those prepared from all natural ingredients transmit the Earths vitality of the herbs and botanicals that they were created from. Additionally, the herbs, resins, spices and aromatic woods have their own specific properties, with their own unique mystical method of conveying that spiritual experience.
Many cultural traditions, practices and beliefs regularly employ the metaphysical properties of incense. It is often used as an offering to the spirits and deities, as well as adding its own particular nuance to rituals, ceremonies, spells and incantations. Incense is also used as an important aid in divination and meditation.
Common Incense Fragrances and Their Metaphysical Properties
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR PURIFICATION
Cedar wood, Copal resins, Eucalyptus leaves, Jasmine and Lavender flowers, Lemon, White Sage (Salvia Apiana), Sandalwood and Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata)
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR PROTECTION
Bayberry (fruit of Myrica rubra), Carnation flowers, Cedar wood, Cinnamon bark, Copal, Dragon's Blood, Frankincense resins, White Sage (Salvia Apiana) and Sandalwood.
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR DIVINATION AND CLAIRVOYANCE
Basil and Bay leaves, Clove (dried flower buds), Damiana (Turnera diffusa), Frankincense resin and Jasmine, Orange, Rose buds and flowers.
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR LUCK
Allspice (Pimenta dioica), Basil leaves, Frankincense resin and Orange, Strawberry, Violet blossoms
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR LOVE
Amber, Copal, Dragon's Blood Resins, Lemon, Musk, Jasmine flowers and Rose petals
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR LUST
Carnation flower, Cinnamon bark, Ginger root, Hibiscus flower and Vanilla bean
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR HEALTH
Amber and Myrrh resins, Gardenia, Lavender flower and Cinnamon bark
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR STRENGTH
Carnation flower, Cinnamon bark, Cypress and Pine foliage
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR MENTAL CLARITY
Basil leaves, Cardamom seed, Cedar wood, Lavender flower, Lemongrass and Sage (Salvia Apiana)
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR COURAGE
Basil leaves, Cardamom seed, Frankincense resin, Musk and Rose pedals
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR POWER
Acacia berries, Bay leaves, Cedar wood, Cinnamon bark, Dragon's Blood resin, Nutmeg seed, Vanilla bean
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED HAPPINESS
Amber resin, Bayberry (fruit of Myrica rubra), Honeysuckle, Hyacinth and Lavender blossoms and buds
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR HARMONY AND SERENITY
Angelica (Archangelica officinalis), Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata) and Gardenia, Lotus, Lilac flowers and buds
INCENSE INGREDIENTS USED FOR WEALTH
Mint, Patchouli leaves, Allspice (Pimenta dioica), Bayberry (fruit of Myrica rubra), Clove (dried flower buds), Honeysuckle and Jasmine flowers and Musk
An Incense Suited For Every Need
The fragrances listed above are single botanical ingredients. Incense may be produced from the single fragrance or from a formulated blend of the above ingredients for a specific purpose. There are also many varieties of commercially blended incense available of which are made from these pure organic botanicals. Some may have more potent metaphysical properties than single fragrances alone.
Incense is usually necessary in many new age, religious and cultural practices. Additionally, a simple spell can be accomplished with dedicated intention on a specific purpose while burning suitable incense.
Sacred space can be cleansed in preparation for a particular ceremony, or just for a pleasing atmosphere by lighting purifying incense and waiving it about the room to disperse the smoke. Likewise, an individual may be purified by smudging while fanning handfuls of smoke (usually sage) over the body.
While practicing divination, or nurturing psychic dreams one may burn incense that is appropriate for your particular purpose to increase the chances of success. If you wish to manifest something such as love or wealth, frequently burn suitable incense and focus on your intentions.
There are many blends on the market today intended for spiritual, meditation, religious and new age purposes and it can be challenging to determine which ones are genuine and of premium quality. This is purely a matter of ardent shopping (purchase from a trustworthy website or shop) and seeing what works for you.
You will find many commercially produced incense with little to no metaphysical or spiritual properties and these usually contain artificial (chemical) products and other nasty stuff. Avoid those for aroma only, such as blueberry pie or fresh linen scent as these are simply air fresheners.
This is important - The greatest guide in any spiritual or metaphysical endeavor is your own intuition and intention. Namaste’ and Blessings Be!
Candle Light Ritual
Smudging with sage
So Was this Helpful ?
Maurice Glaude from Mobile, AL on November 28, 2017:
Plants for luck and abundance usually have rounded leaves like the basil leaf. I use them as front door plants to bring in good luck energy and money.
Roger Nichols from Mandurah, Western Australia on January 12, 2014:
An excellent insite into some of the aspects and uses of incense. Certainly i found that most if not all the common manufacturers products had little spiritual effectiveness. Whereas a number of Japanese manufacturers suppled very high quality products from the best woods oils and resins. No horsehair used here - more expensive but you get what you pay for! Another great supplier is based in the wonderful town of Glastonbury UK with a huge range of granulated incense covering many areas of need.
Roger Marlow (author) from Alpine, USA on December 01, 2013:
Thank you Deborah
Deborah Sexton on November 29, 2013:
Very nice hub. I use incense when I pray and meditate. The ancient people used incense in the same way.
My favorite is Nag Champa, which causes me to feel a deep mystical spirituality. It gives me the feeling of being in a holy temple. (it's hard to explain) and I feel close to God.
Each fragrance has it's own properties and affects us differently. Though you may not feel the energies of fragrance, you will feel the effects.
Just as each fragrance is distinct and affects us differently we will all respond to the same fragrance differently. We will all have a unique scent that is our favorite.
In other words we will resonate to one or two that will evoke images, memories, and emotions from deep within.
Thank you for this informative hub