Botanical Incenses


From: Rowan Fairgrove

About ten years ago I was very interested in botanical incenses and spent a lot of time studying and teaching the use of same.
After a hiatus I am getting back into this and would like some feedback on what has been happening out there.

I will type herein parts of a booklet I published called "A Handbook of Botantical Incenses" to give you some idea of where my thinking was at that time. I had generated the schema as something useful to my own work, it is not something widely used. I would love to hear other schema such as astrological, deity correspondences, seasonal, etc. I may append some of those sorts of categories to this if I have the time.

My meaning come mostly from "traditional" sources but in my actual teaching and working I place more emphasis on what an individual scent does to the worker. In my beginning classes
I simply passed around a collection of incenses and had each member tell what it meant to them and then we talked about the "traditional
" meaning. If, for example, the traditional meaning for cinnamon is concentration and you smell it and think of grandma's pumpkin pie and all you can think about is food, it is not going to be appropriate to burn to help you study!

...Botanical and other incense are a tool which can be tailored to the user's desire. At their simplest they may be used to stimulate the sense of smell and bring enjoyment to those nearby, alternatively, they can be a subtle compilation designed to create a specific ambiance for a
ritual or magical operation.

The following guide contains some botanical (and a few other substances) and their uses when burned. The attributes have been derived from a great many sources, both published and
personal communication, and like most magical properties they are most effective when tailored to the individual or group using them. So sit down and burn some and see if they work for you. Try combinations. I have included some recipes
which have worked for myself and others in the hopes that you will find them useful. Happy Censing!

A Scheme of Things:
The botanicals which I will discuss fall into several broad categories:

1) EVOCATIVE - used to get the attention of divinities or to summon spirits

2) DIVINATORY - used to foretell the future or to see hidden secrets

3) PURIFICATORY - used to purify the purpose of a rite or the action of a given object

4) ENHANCING - used to intensify the purpose of a rite or the action of a given object

5) PROTECTIVE - used to shield the user or area from harm

6) BANISHING - used to drive out unwanted influences or spirits

7) HEALING - used to promote wholeness in mind, body or spirit

8) SPELL CASTING - used to promote a purpose, e.g., love, fertility, money, luck, fortune, concentration, etc.

Many botanicals fall into several categories, for example:

Wormword (Artemesia) can be used

1) to evoke Artemis and call the dead
2) to promote divination
6) when consecrated to Mars

in banishing
6) & 7) it was used to banish the Black Plague
8) when consecrated to Mars, in works of anger.

Some Examples:
1) Evocative
Almond Lotus
Ash Mandrake
Basil Myrrh
Bay Olive
Blessed Thistle Patchouli
Damiana Rowan
Dittany of Crete Rue
Elm Thyme
Frankincense Verbena
Henbane Vervain, Blue
Life Everlasting Flowers Wormwood

2) Divinatory:
Ash Linseed
Bay Mugwort
Cinquefoil Rowan
Clove Thyme
Elm Wormwood
Frankincense Yarrow

3) Purificatory:
Angelica Mastic gum
Bayberry Myrrh
Burnet Olive

4) Healing
Balm of Gilead Myrrh
Lavender Rosemary
Life Everlasting Wormwood

4) Enhancing:
Anise seed Lotus
Angelica Mandrake
Celery seed Mastic gum
Cinnamon Mugwort
Cinquefoil Orris root
Cloves Peppermint
Damiana Sandalwood
Dragon's Blood Styrax
Frankincense Uva Ursi

5) Protective:
Alfalfa Juniper wood
Basil Life Everlasting flowers
Blessed Thistle Mastic gum
Bay Mistletoe
Camphor Mugwort
Cinquefoil Orris root
Elder Rosemary
Five Finger Grass Rowan
Frankincense St. John's Wort
Garlic Vervain, Blue

6) Banishing:
Agrimony Lavender
Ash Pine
Camphor Rowan
Dragon's Blood Vervain, Blue
Juniper wood Wormwood

8) Spell Casting:
Basil Patchouli
Bayberry Peppermint
Bezoin gum Rosemary
Camphor Rowan
Cinnamon Rue
Damiana Sandalwood
Dragon's Blood Tormantil
Frankincense Uva Ursi
Lavender Vervain, Blue
Lemon peel St. John's Wort
Life Everlasting flowers Wormwood
Mandrake Yarrow
Mistletoe Ylang Ylang
Orris Root