Posts in spirituality
Japanese Amulets: My Collection of Omamori
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As a minimalist, I don’t have many collections but I make an exception for two things: tarot decks and omamori, or Japanese good luck amulets. I began this collection over ten years ago when I studied abroad in Japan and this collection has been slowly growing ever since. There’s something so genuinely cheerful about picking up a handful of good luck to bring back home with me each time I visit Japan.

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These colorful pouches can be found all over Japan and are mostly sold in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The kanji for the term omamori means “to guide or protect” and these items are meant to be placed in places you interact with daily such as your wallet, your purse, your home, or your car.

There is one rule with omamori - don’t open the bag! Inside each cloth bag is a tiny piece of wood upon which a small prayer is written. If you open the bag all the good luck and protection is released and dissipates. There are many different kinds of omamori that you can find in Japan through you can commonly find ones dedicated to success, love, prosperity, education, and safety.

At this point I have a collection of different types of omamori picked up at various shrines and temples. Some locations even have a specialized omamori you can only purchase there, so in a way collecting omamori is a bit like a spiritual scavenger hunt. If you’re ever in Japan, I recommend picking up a couple omamori while you’re there. As the proceeds go to the shrines and temples it’s a great way to support the local spiritual community and it definitely doesn’t hurt to come home with an extra bit of good luck in your pocket.

All About Shinto - Is it Pagan?
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Envision a winding path that takes you through trees before leading you to an opposing vermillion gate.  As you step through the gate you leave the mundane world and enter the world of ‘Kami’, or divine spirits. Following along the path you reach a large wooden shrine.  The doors and the heart of the shrine are closed - never viewed by visitors as it contains the Shintai or ‘divine body’ of the Kami. To the left you see a large pine tree.  You can tell that this is an Shinboku, or sacred tree, from the rope and paper tassels that hang like a belt along its sturdy trunk. In this moment you are immersed in the sacred; in the power of our natural world.

Shinto literally means “the way of the gods” and it is Japan’s native belief system.  Most cultures begin their spiritual development with animist beliefs, however most nature-based religions have diminished in popularity since the rise of monotheism.  What makes Japan so fascinating is that this ancient spiritual reverence for nature has not diminished among the population. Instead, it has remained an integral piece of the cultural heart of this nation.

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The history and complexity of Shinto would be too lengthy to fully explain in the confines of this post so I would like to merely state the basics of this religion.  The practice of Shinto revolves around the seasons, the land, and its relation with the human inhabitants. This is similar to neo-pagan traditions that develop festivals and ceremonies around the changing seasons.  Shinto at its core is a nature-based spiritual system and these beliefs include recognition of various divine spirits (kami) within trees, mountains, waterfalls, and other aspects of nature. For the item being revered (such as an ancient tree) a rope garland is placed marking the presence of the kami within.  Usually a shine is also built next to the item of nature that is being revered.

Various purification rites are an important part of Shinto ceremonies, these rites are meant to overcome the polluting effects of decay and death.  Rites of passage, such as weddings are also a common ritual performed at Shinto shrines. Unlike most religions, Shinto does not have a moral code or any scriptures.  There is also no specific belief in life after death in Shinto.

As Buddhism entered Japan it did not eliminate the prominence of Shinto.  The pantheons of both religions were expanded so that Buddhist deities adopted Shinto identities and Shinto Kami were associated with the act of striving towards enlightenment.  In this way, new converts to Buddhism were not forced to give up their traditional beliefs.

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So… is Shinto Pagan?  In the sense that it is a nature-based religion consisting of multiple deities I would say yes.  However, as a non-Japanese person I hesitate to lump this ancient tradition under the wide umbrella of Paganism.  It’s likely that many Shinto practitioners would like their religion to be viewed as its own thing, separate from the wider pagan movement.  I will say that I was deeply honored to visit many sacred shrines on my recent trip to Japan and I very much look forward to learning more about this beautiful nature-based religion. What are your thoughts about Shinto? Share your opinions and experiences in the comments below.

I also have a corresponding video where I go into more detail. You can view it here:

Pagan Travels - Joshua Tree National Park
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I’ve always loved the martian landscape of the Southwest. The big empty sky and cactus studded land brings a sense of otherworldliness and stark beauty. As someone who grew up surrounded by the lush trees and farmland of upstate NY, I don’t think I could ever feel comfortable living in this region, though I’m more than happy to travel here from time to time. This has been a particular tough winter for me and my skin was definitely begging for some vitamin D. So, as I was considering a long weekend trip, I happily decided on Joshua Tree for the destination.

Lately I’ve been thinking more about our National Parks. With America as divided as it is, sometimes it helps to revisit our best idea as a country, which in my view is our national parks system. So far I’ve visited Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and The Smoky Mountains, so I still have quite a long list of national parks to visit. My trip to Joshua Tree came at an odd moment. During the government shut down the park was closed briefly from the damage that was being done to the park so I wasn’t even sure this trip would end up happening. Luckily the shutdown did end and park reopened in time for my visit.

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Joshua Tree is one of the many areas of the Southwest known as a vortex or a region for healing energy. I’m always a bit skeptical when it comes to energetic vortices, though I can say that I definitely felt a strong scenes of peace and calm throughout the park. It’s hard to know if that comes from an innate energetic force in the region or just the pleasant contrast in my own experience from leaving the hustle & bustle of Chicago and entering a uniquely different space.

Each day in the park began with a hike among the many trails available. As someone who spends most their working days in front of a computer, it was refreshing to spend full days outside experiencing nature. Despite being a dessert, the plant life was lush, with multitudes of different cacti and trees dotted along the mountain ridges and valleys. Us pagans often talk a big game when it comes to celebrating nature, but how many of us honestly put our words into action. This trip reminded me of the necessity to immerse myself in our natural world with more regularity. It is in these places that I truly feel connected to the divine spirit and the power within nature. It’s one of my goals this year to get outside the city more and remember that being Pagan means to actively celebrate spirituality though nature in its many forms.

5 Witchy Items to Get Rid Of

As a Pagan I often feel pressure to build my collection of spiritual items so that I can create a more cohesive ritual or spell using all the proper correspondences of herbs, incense, candles and ritual items. And while building my collection has certainly been an enjoyable process, I find that often my best rituals are the ones that embrace simplicity. This is why I’ve been on a quest to minimize many of my spiritual items so that I can better connect with the foundational energy that is at the heart of any spiritual endeavor. Going through this decluttering process has revealed many items that I’ve realized I can happily live without. Here’s 5 items you can consider downsizing to refresh your own spiritual path.

 
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BOOKS YOU HOPE TO READ SOMEDAY

My bookshelves house many spiritual books that I’ve been meaning to read but just haven't gotten around to it yet. Every time I look at my bookshelf I feel a twinge of guilt that I’ve let so many books go unread. Instead of leaving these books to collect dust, pick them up and quickly scan them to see if there is any information that you think would be valuable for your spiritual practice. If so, copy this information down into a journal or a Book of Shadows then pass the book on or donate it to your local library.

 
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CRYSTALS YOU DON’T FIND USEFUL OR BEAUTIFUL

Over the years I’ve developed a sizable collection of crystals, minerals, and tumbled stones. However, when I think back to which ones I actively use in rituals & meditation I find that I keep gravitating to only a few. In my case, I regularly only use amethyst, rose quartz, and clear quartz. Consider which crystals or stones you connect with and allow yourself to pass on any unloved or unused specimens to fellow friends.

 
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CANDLES IN DIFFERENT COLORS

While corresponding the color of your candles to a specific ritual or spell can certainly be fun it’s not necessary in order to achieve a positive result. Simple white candles are multipurpose and can work for any type of ritual you may have in mind. Sticking with simple white candles can also save you a fair bit of money. Even better - make your own candles to enhance the overall experience.


 
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TAROT DECKS YOU DON’T USE

As a tarot reviewer and blogger I often get decks sent to me from publishers and deck creators. While some decks I immediately love, a lot of them I don’t end up using very often. If you are a tarot enthusiast like me take some time going through your collection and picking out the decks that you no longer feel connected to and pass them on to someone else.


 
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GIFTS THAT DON’T SPARK JOY

Over the years I’ve received many witchy jewelry & decor items. While I’m of course pleased to receive these items some that are not really my style just end up in my closet. This year I’m giving myself permission to pass on these items on to someone who will enjoy them more.






You can view my corresponding video on this topic below. What items have you been decluttering lately? Share below in the comments.

5 Crystals to Manifest Success + Abundance

There are many types of crystals out there that can help you focus your energy on achieving your goals and desires. Here are 5 of my favorites to work with:

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CLEAR QUARTZ

  • Can be used for anything and everything.

  • It resonates with the higher chakras, bringing in divine white light and connection to higher-self, higher consciousness, higher wisdom and unconditional pure love.

AMETHYST

  • It resonates with Crown Chakra as well as the Third Eye Chakra, which opens up the gateway to divine consciousness and higher intuition.

  • It also provides clarity when there’s confusion in the mind, and helps to relieve stress and anxiety.

ROSE QUARTZ

  • This pink crystal is a very soothing and calming stone symbolizing love and harmony.

  • It helps open your heart to give and receive love. It also encourages you to forgive others and yourself.

  • Place Rose Quartz in your home or workplace to keep the atmosphere harmonious and peaceful.

ORANGE CALCITE

  • Like clear quartz, it’s an enhancement stone.

  • It has the ability to dissolve problems that are blocking you from your true potential.

DESERT ROSE

  • Despite its rose petal like softness, Desert Rose is a stone that will help you stand your ground and confront any hardship.

  • It will show you how to commit to a project with confidence despite the numerable obstacles.

  • By staying focused on your outcome you can meet any challenges with an optimistic attitude.

What crystals do you like to incorporate into your own spiritual practice? Share your favorites in the comments below! You can watch the video below for more information about these 5 crystals and how they can be used for manifestation.

10 Types of Witches
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There are a multitude of different types of witches out there in the world and I'd like to give you an introduction to some of them.  To begin with, I think it's important to first define what a witch is.  To me a witch is simply someone who practices witchcraft. Witchcraft is something you do, like ritual or spellwork, and it’s not necessarily a belief system in of itself.  So, you don’t need to follow any specific religion to call yourself a witch or to practice witchcraft.  There are, however, many witches who use witchcraft as part of their religious practice.  So it's up to you to determine which path best fits your own spiritual journey. 

1: Gardnerian Witch

A Gardnerian Witch is someone who follows the belief system of Gardnerian Wicca, which was created by Gerald Garner in the 1950s.  Gardnerian Wicca is hierarchical system that consists of a high priest and priestess as well as various initiations. So, one is not a Gardnerian Witch until they have learned their specific traditions and have gone through proper initiation.

2: Alexandrian Witch

Alexandrian Witchcraft is like Guardian Wicca in that it is a formalized belief system which contains it’s own traditions and initiations.  Alexandrian witches follow some of the similar traditions in Guardian Wicca, but also incorporate ceremonial magic as well as the Qabalah.

3. Solitary Witch

A solitary witch is someone who performs spellwork and rituals alone and without a coven.  This may be by choice, or perhaps they just haven’t yet found a group of fellow witches they would like to work with.  A solitary witch can incorporate various different paths based on their interest and may or may not use witchcraft as part of a wider spiritual path or religion.

4. Eclectic Witch

An Eclectic witch is someone who pulls from various witchcraft traditions for their spellwork and rituals.  They rely on a variety of different cultures, beliefs, and systems to formulate their own personal witchcraft practice which may change and evolve over time. 

5. Traditional Witch

A traditional witch is someone who takes a historical approach to witchcraft.  They look at old grimoires, witch trials, various witch lore, and historical accounts to lay the foundation for their own spells and rituals.  Often traditional witches focus on working with the nature and history of the place they live and may work with the genius loci, or the local spirits.

6. Hereditary Witch

A Hereditary witch is someone who was born into a family that practices witchcraft.  Usually their knowledge is passed down through generations and each family may have their own traditions and belief system.  Though, just because someone is born in a witch family it does not necessarily mean that they will be more knowledgeable or powerful than a non-hereditary witch.

7. Hedge Witch

A Hedge witch works with the liminal spaces and the spirit realm.  In the past a ‘hedge’ would mark a boundary of a village or settlement and thus represents the boundary between our physical reality and the spirit world.  A hedge witch may be skilled at crossing that boundary through practices like astral travel.

8. Kitchen Witch

A kitchen witch enjoys making their home and surroundings a sacred space.  They often like to incorporate witchcraft with their cooking and put their energy and focus into to the food and the meals they create.  They care deeply about the ingredients, and may have their own herb and vegetable garden.

9. Green Witch

Green witches are extremely nature based.  They are likely to be in-tune with the seasons and often use natural materials to create their own magical tools.  They most likely try to perform all their spellwork and rituals outside in nature when possible.

10. Cosmic Witch

A cosmic witch incorporates astrology and astronomy into their witchcraft.  They most likely closely follow the alignment of the planets and they will often will coordinate their spells and rituals based on the location of the planets and the moon.


What type of witch are you?  Share in the comments below!

You can learn more about these types of witches in my corresponding Youtube video below:

Do Witches Believe in the Devil?
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It's certainly tempting to just immediately say 'No, of course witches don't believe in the devil!'  But today I'd like to take the time to think deeply about this question and I don't think the answer is as clear cut as many would suggest.  To begin with, not all witches believe in the divine or would consider themselves religious.  To me, witchcraft is a practice or something you do and as such it can be completely void of any belief in the divine.  And if you choose to perform witchcraft without the addition of divine energy than of course the answer would be irrelevant as the devil is Christian religious entity.  

There are, however, many witches who do channel divine power for their witchcraft practice.  Sometimes this may include calling upon the power of the Goddess and the God. The god in this case is sometimes called the Green Man or the Horned one and can appear as a satyr type figure with horns or hooves.  This archetype is inspired by pre-christian gods like the Greek God Pan or the Celtic God Cernunnos. This pagan God rules over the wild energy of the forest, our own human sexuality, and is a manifestation of the masculine energy in the world.  Like many pagan Gods, he is neither good nor bad as Pagan societies did not view their religious figures in a rigid binary system.

When Christianity came to Europe it viewed chastity and modesty being righteous and sexual freedom as being immoral.  So naturally, this put figures like Pan and Cernunnos in a difficult spot. Over time Christians overlaid their own story of the Devil with the much older masculine archetypes of pre-christian Gods, which is why the Devil often looks like the Greek God Pan.  This is why it’s so difficult to say if witches work with the energy of the Devil. If a witch is calling upon the divine masculine energy of the wild, are they working with the Devil?

 

To complicate matters further, there are also some witches to do work with the Christianized concept of the Devil as opposed to the Pagan masculine archetype.  Some believe that the Devil represents the very embodiment and power of witchcraft. In Christianity the Devil is connected with things such as ecstatic pleasure, celebrations, feasting, and unbridled revelry.  These are things that are often connected to various witchcraft traditions. This concept of the Devil is still somewhat removed from the character of Satan - the one who casts evil doers into the fiery realms of hell.  So in that way, you could say that yes, some witches do celebrate the wild and unpredictable power of the ‘Devil’, but not the fire and brimstone figure that is Satan.

My 'Pan' costume I wore for the Lyric Opera House Masquerade Ball

My 'Pan' costume I wore for the Lyric Opera House Masquerade Ball

On the other end of the spectrum, there are many witches that do not work with the wild masculine energy at all.  There are some groups, like the Dianic witches, who focus more on the Goddess and the ideas of the sacred feminine.  There are also groups that work with a much more watered down version of the sacred masculine that is very much removed from the idea of the Devil.  So once again I leave you to determine the direction of your own spiritual path and which, if any, divine forces you will choose to work with in your witchcraft practice.

So, to conclude, I think this question is more complicated and I don't believe a 'yes' or 'no' answer would suffice. To practice witchcraft requires a thinking beyond the binary of Good vs. Evil (or God vs. Devil) to which most belief systems are based. 

Unlike the Abrahamic traditions, Witchcraft is not based upon a strict division of what is good and what is evil.  Witches use nature to fuel their concept of the divine and in the world of nature there is no battle between good and evil.  A lion is not ‘evil’ because it kills the gazelle, and a deer is not ‘good’ because it eats only plants. Nature is both cruel and beautiful at the same time.  Likewise, witchcraft can be used for both positive and malevolent gains.  

With witchcraft there is no governing body or official rule book telling you what you can and cannot do.  Witchcraft is not something that was invented and controlled - it has always existed.  The power of witchcraft lays within the plants, the moon, the stars, and ourselves.  Witches over time learned to tap into this natural power and created spells for what they needed help with in their day to day lives.  There have been many witches that have cast curses against others from time to time and there have been many that have dedicated their craft to healing and helping others.  There are some witchcraft traditions, like Traditional Witchcraft, that are not morally opposed to hexes and will perform them if a significant need arises.  There are also some belief structures, like Wicca, where most of the followers are very much morally opposed to casting hexes and curses.   

How you choose to perform witchcraft is entirely up to you, and the moral consequences of those actions will likewise lie entirely on your own shoulders.  Witchcraft respects that you are an individual, capable of defining and establishing your own sense of morality and justice.

What are your thoughts on this?  I'd love for fellow witches to share their thoughts in the comments section.  Do my ideas resonate with you or am I way off the mark? 

Controlling Your Energy
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***This is a guest post written by the lovely Rena from her blog, The King Paimon.  Check out her blog for more great content on the occult and spirituality. 

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It is very important, both when working with magic as well as in mundane life, that you have an awareness of your personal energy and how it affects your body and mind. This post discusses various techniques for managing your personal energy and “remaining present” in ritual and magic.

There are a number of ways to control your energy levels, as well as your mental, emotional and spiritual states. Here are some:

Mundane-ing – Get the person out of the ritual mindset and into a mundane, normal mindset.  Ask them what they did yesterday, if they like their boss, what their favorite color is.  Anything to engage their rational mind and get it to focus on something other than what is/was happening to them.

Shielding – Create energetic shields around the person to block energy flows that are causing them problems.  If they are unable to create their own shields, do it for them (temporarily).

Blocking – Like shielding, but more physical.  Put yourself physically between you and the source of distress.  Provides the energetic benefits of shielding with the physical obstruction added in for additional blocking power.

Charging – Raising a person’s energy level by putting energy into their system.

Re-Tuning – This is where you re-tune someone’s energy to a higher vibratory level (or rarely, lower level) so that they can handle the higher levels of energy without adverse effect.  This is analogous to shifting a car into a higher gear.  Like when you shift to a higher gear, the engine sounds quieter, but it is actually capable of running faster.  Retuning someone’s energy has a similar effect in that they will perceive energy levels as lower than they actually are because their capacity has increased, and people tend to measure energy related to their own capacity to hold and use it.  Retuning should not be done without permission as it can permanently change the person’s vibration and energy levels.  It often has an adjustment period of a day to a week where physical and energetic problems may be noticed as your physical and energetic bodies realign.

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Energy Shifting – Like Retuning, but on a smaller and temporary scale. Temporarily shifting the person’s vibration rate, either higher or lower for a short period of time.

Finding Equilibrium – Hot water poured into cold water creates warm water.  Energy will naturally seek to find balance on its own.  This state is called Equilibrium.  Simply relax and allow energy to flow in, out, around or through without forcing it.  This technique is also good for finding harmony with your environment by allowing it and you to flow through and into each other.

Breaking Connections – Energetic ties or threads can be formed while working magic or ritual, usually unconsciously.  By breaking this connection energetically or physically you can often remedy related problems.

Regaining Focus – A simple reminder to focus on a particular object or task is often all that is needed to help bring a person back to where they should be.

Stilling – Bringing your body to a calm, steady, relaxed state.  The physical version of Centering, Balancing and Attuning.

Centering – “Getting a grip” mentally.  Useful for when the concentration is poor, thoughts are scattered or coming in a flood.  The mental version of Stilling, Balancing and Attuning.

Balancing – Consciously working to balance energies.  Like Equilibrium, but can be used when the person is unable to relax enough for Finding Equilibrium to let energy flow naturally.  The energetic version of Stilling, Centering and Attuning.

Attuning – Getting in touch with your spiritual core and Spirit.  The spiritual version of Stilling, Balancing, and Centering.

Closing – Closing a person’s chakras temporarily, either in whole or in part, to prevent the flow of energy in or out of them.

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Cocooning – Creating a shielding bubble of energy around someone.  Can be used to cut someone off from the energy of a circle without them realizing it.

Resting – Sometimes a person just needs a break.  Quiet time, a quick nap or a good sleep does wonders at all levels.

Remaining Present – A collection of skills for recognizing the signs and feelings of being moved out of control of your own body, such as through channeling or possession.  Training for noticing the warning signs, such as trace states, spontaneous body movement, perceiving thoughts, voices, and feelings that are not your own and ways to slow or stop the process if desired, along with establishing your boundaries and rules for passing messages through you to others.

Shock – A surprising sound or sensation can break someone out of many states where their attention is no longer present.  A loud noise near them, such as a sharp clap of the hands, will often snap someone out of an altered state.  In extreme cases, a physical action such as a slap in the face or a moderate kick to the shin will bring people back immediately with no long-term side effects.  These should obviously only be used as a last resort and under circumstances that would allow for it.

Radical Grounding – Techniques can be used to quickly remove excess energy from someone.  These involve physical, more than energetic, action.  For example, Heel Drop – Have the person jump up into the air.   When they are in the air, have them lock their knees and land hard on both heels.   There will be a physical jarring when they land that serves to drive their energy deep into the ground immediately.   Repeat if needed.   Note: This technique is not recommended for anyone with knee or spine problems.

Grounding – Grounding is listed last because it is the most overused technique available.  It is often suggested for nearly every situation and is usually the wrong thing to do.  If you are low on energy, grounding won’t help you.  If you have an imbalance or blockage of energy, grounding won’t help you.  If you are trying to build energy, grounding will suck it out of you.  If you are trying to be fluid and mobile, grounding will interfere with this and keep you rooted.  If you are trying to do out-of-body work, grounding will keep you in it.  Grounding is useful when you have some extra energy that you want to get rid of, and not much else.  In most cases where you would want to ground, you can simply do some “instant magic” and project the energy out with an intent behind it, and you will still get the benefit of getting rid of the energy, but you’ll have put it towards a goal.

By learning to practice these various techniques you will be able to better control your own internal world, which then lets you focus better on your external world.

What has been your experience with energy during ritual or spellwork?  Have you ever used these techniques and if so is there one that you find the most helpful? Share your thoughts below in the comments. 

Making Your Own Incense

My first memory of incense came from a church service when I was very young.  My parents did not often attend church but would make an exception when my mother's parents would come to visit.  My grandparents firmly believed in the Episcopalian faith so when they visited we made our yearly pilgrimage to our local church to attend Sunday service.  It may come as a surprise to hear, but I actually enjoyed going to church. As a child I was captivated by not the words of the service, but by the atmosphere of the church itself.  The stained glass windows gleamed with bold colors as the Sunday sun streamed through. I would look at the sequence of windows and wonder if the images were all related, as if they told one continuous story like a comic book or graphic novel.  

As the service began the altar boys clad in their crisp white robes would swing incense burners back and forth as they walked down the aisle.  The scent of the smoke filtered all the way to the back pews and made the whole church smell, well...heavenly. I would breath deeply as they passed and the scent would transport me somewhere other than my little upstate New York village.  I would get visions of spice markets from far away lands and imagine myself traveling there someday.

I believe that atmosphere is strongly underrated when it comes to ritual.  It is often the feeling you get, not the words, of a religious service that brings you closer to divinity.  I think the Catholic church has always understood this and this is why they consistently fill their services with pageantry, gilded statues, and of course incense.  

Incense goes back much farther than the Christian or Jewish faith.  There is evidence of incense being used as far back as the early Indus Valley Civilizations.  Quickly after incense was developed it began to be used in rituals and ceremonies to honor the Gods and Goddesses.  I sometimes like to close my eyes and imagine what some of the ancient Pagan temples must have felt like. I imagine that incense must have enhanced the mysterious quality that imbued these ancient mystic sites.

Nowadays we mostly use incense in our homes as a way to improve the smell or help us relax.  Though as practitioners of witchcraft we have the ability to tap into the esoteric qualities of incense and use it to enhance our spellwork and rituals.  You can of course purchase incense from many places but by taking it a step further and choosing to make your own incense cones you are tapping into a spiritual craft that has been done for centuries.  Making the incense cones yourself allows you to choose the herbs which best correspond to the intention of your spellwork and ritual so that your practice will be imbued with even more meaning and purpose.

 

MAKING YOUR OWN INCENSE CONES

Step 1 - Choose your dried herbs

You can use many different dried herbs to create incense.  The most common ones to use for homemade incense are Sage, Cedar, and Sweetgrass.  It’s even better if you’re able to use herbs that you’ve grown and dried yourself. You can also choose the herbs for your incense based on the magical qualities of the plant.

Step 2 - Crush the herbs into a powder

Using a mortar and pestle crush the leaves until they are the consistency of a rough powder.  This process may take awhile depending on which herbs you are using.

Step 3 - Add makko powder

Add one teaspoon of makko powder for every three teaspoons of ground herbs.  Makko powder is from the bark of the Thunbergi tree. The makko powder will act as a binding agent when water is added, helping to shape the incense into cones.  It’s also a natural combustible material that will allow the incense cones to burn slowly and evenly. While you can grind your own makko powder from Thunbergi tree bark it is much easier to purchase it online for the purpose of making your incense.

Step 4 - Add distilled water

Add water very slowly, a couple drops at a time, to the powder mixture until a ‘dough’ is created that you can mold in your hands.

Step 5 - Form the cones

You can either form the incense ‘dough’ into cones by hand or you can use a small conical mold.  I recommend checking your kitchen cupboard to see if you have any piping bags. The metal tips on these bags can be detached to make a perfect mold for your incense cones.  Measure out a ½ teaspoon of the mixture and press it into the mold. To help release the cone you can insert a pin or twisty tie into the tip of the mold.

Step 5 - Dry the cones

Place your cones on wax paper and allow them to dry for at least 12 hours.  Turn the cones over so the bottoms are exposed half way through to insure they have time to dry as well.

Step 6 - Burning the incense

Fill a heat-resistant bowl or small cauldron with sand or salt and then place the cone on top.  Light the tip of the cone, wait a couple seconds, and blow it out. The cone will continue to smoke for about an hour.

What is your earliest memory of experiencing incense?  Have you ever tried to make your own incense?  Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

*Images on this post are from Pinterest