Throughout history incense has been used to sooth the soul, heal the body, pleasure the senses, summons spirits, and appease the Gods. Although the exact origin of incense is unknown, it appears to have been among the earliest spiritual practices. Ancient texts, dating as far back as 1800 BC describe the burning of incense for spiritual purposes.
Although the metaphysical properties of incense have not yet been scientifically proven, practitioners have been satisfied with the results since the beginning of (at least recorded) history. Additionally, scientific discoveries regarding aromatherapy and chemical makeup of essential oils hold some surprising parallels to the metaphysical properties. For example, Lavender is used in ritual or spell work for spiritual purification, protection, and serenity. Chemicals in lavender oil have been proven to be effective disinfectants as well as pest (insect) repellant. In aromatherapy, lavender is the most popular fragrance for calming and focusing the mind.
Exactly how the metaphysical properties of incense work is a topic of great debate. It depends largely on your personal beliefs, and how the incense is used. The simplest belief is that incense simply sets the mood. Fragrance has been proven to have profound effects of the memory and emotional state. Many skeptics think of it as a prop. Many mind-power based practitioners believe it simply aids one in accessing their natural power by opening up inner energy flows and helping reach the desired level on consciousness.
The vast majority of practitioners believe in the actual magic powers of incense. Those made of natural materials carry the Earth energy of the plant they originated from. Additionally, the herbs, fragrances, and formulas have their own powers, their own special mystical way of bringing about transformations.
Many faiths, practices, and cultural traditions utilize the metaphysical properties of incense. It is an offering to the spirits and deities, as well as adding its own power to ceremonies and spells. It is often used along with a variety of magical tools and offerings, in rituals. However, many use incense alone to aid in meditation or divination, power one’s wishes, or just work its own magic.
-Metaphysical Properties of Common Incense Fragrances-
INCENSE FOR PURIFICATION
Cedar, Copal, Eucalyptus, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Sage, Sandalwood, Sweetgrass
INCENSE FOR PROTECTION
Bayberry, Carnation, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Copal, Dragon’s Blood, Frankincense, Sage, Sandalwood,
INCENSE FOR CLAIRVOYANCE AND DIVINATION
Basil, Bay, Clove, Damiana, Frankincense, Jasmine, Orange, Rose
INCENSE FOR LUCK
Allspice, Basil, Frankincense, Orange, Strawberry, Violet
INCENSE FOR LOVE
Amber, Copal, Dragon’s Blood, Jasmine, Lemon, Musk, Rose
INCENSE FOR LUST
Carnation, Cinnamon, Ginger, Hibiscus, Vanilla
INCENSE FOR HEALTH
Amber, Carnation, Cinnamon, Gardenia, Lavender, Myrrh
INCENSE FOR STRENGTH
Carnation, Cinnamon, Cypress, Pine
INCENSE FOR MENTAL CLARITY
Basil, Cardamom, Cedarwood, Lavender, Lemongrass, Sage
INCENSE FOR COURAGE
Basil, Cardamom, Frankincense, Musk, Rose
INCENSE FOR POWER
Acacia, Bay, Cedar, Cinnamon, Dragon’s Blood, Nutmeg, Vanilla
INCENSE FOR HAPPINESS
Amber, Bayberry, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth, Lavender
INCENSE FOR HARMONY AND SERENITY
Angelica, Chamomile, Gardenia, Lotus, Lilac, Ylang-Ylang
INCENSE FOR WEALTH
Allspice, Bayberry, Clove, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Mint, Musk, Patchouli
The fragrances listed above are all pure – a single scent. There is also a wide variety of blended incense available. Some can have more potent metaphysical properties than single fragrances, while some have little to no properties. Avoid those for aroma only, such as Chanel no.5 clone or fresh linen scent. They are just an air freshener.
Of the many blends intended for religious, meditation, and new age use it can be difficult to tell which ones are genuine. This is simply a matter of smart shopping (read reviews, buy from a reputable website) and experimenting to see what works for you.
Some incense blends are designed for purposes such as those listed above. Many are specialized, such as fragrances to appeal to specific deities, enhance the energy of an element, or balance the energies for a certain Zodiac sign.
Incense is specifically required for many new age, religious and cultural practices. Additionally, a simple spell can be performed with focused concentration on a specific intention while lighting the appropriate incense.
A space can be purified in preparation for ceremony, or just for improved atmosphere by lighting purifying incense and waiving it about the room to distribute smoke. Similarly, a person can be purified by smudging – brushing handfuls of smoke (usually sage) on the body.
When meditating, practicing divination, or cultivating psychic dreams burn incense appropriate for your goal, to increase chances of success.
If you wish to increase something, such as wealth or love, in your life regularly burn appropriate incense and focus the appropriate intentions.
Remember, your very best guide in any spiritual or metaphysical matter is your intuition and intention.