I’ve always had a serious fascination with plants and trees. So it made perfect sense that during my initial exposures to the Craft I'd be immediately drawn to incenses and brews. It's so funny to me, not in a negative way, but in a baffling way that most practicing pagans today have had no exposure to using charcoal disc with loose herbal incense blends otherwise known as Censer. I could advocate SO many different reasons why this method of incense is far superior to stick and cone. Not to say that I dislike stick or cone. I just feel like at the root they don’t have the soul of burning loose incense. What do I mean by that? Loose Incense is plant magick pure and simple. It’s energy. Plants Vibrate. They resonate energy and create change. You’re combining Earth and Fire. Hand making a combination of plant energy and sending it up to the old ones…it gets me high just thinking about it. I can think of no other way to create such a personal experience with the ways of the old. The Native Americans knew it. Not only with the burning of herbs over coals but with the ceremony of the peace pipe. That is still a form of Incense burning. Even smoking green is ceremonial to most today.
I cut my teeth on the works of Gerald Gardner, Janet & Stewart Farrar, Raymond Buckland, D.J. Conway, & forever my kindred spirit guide Scott Cunningham. These early practitioners of the craft didn't have access to the variety of cone & stick incenses that are heavily used today. For it was only in the 50’s with the rising hippie culture that Americans became exposed to the Asian stick incenses that have become widely accepted today. The earlier teachings lay out detailed descriptions of proper incense (censer) ritual practices. Earlier Wiccan and Pagans works of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s adopted traditions discovered in old texts and practices for this method. I would have to think though that the earliest uses of Censer would probably belong to the early Neolithic cultures spreading from Egypt to Asia and so on to the Native Americans who discovered that bundling herbs and flowers together produced the same effect, otherwise known as smudges, which I also love. It’s a tradition steeped and rooted deeply in our heritage as practitioners of the Old Ways and it upsets me that it’s fading away. But…as I write that last sentence…I remember that tides change. Energy Changes. Things are cyclical and come back around. And this is one of things I sure hope does have a reprise, because if you’ve never used this method…you’re definitely missing out on this great source and potential of pure magick!
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