Title: Incense Magick: Create Inspiring Aromatic Experiences for Your Craft
Author(s): Carl F. Neal
Published 2012 by Llewellyn
ISBN: 0738719749
ISBN-13: 978-0738719740
Paperback, 294 pages
List: $16.95
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Reviewer: Mike Gleason

This is NOT a book about creating incense (see his previous work: Incense: Crafting & Use of Magickal Scents from Llewellyn 2003 for that information). This is a book about the use of incense. "What's the big deal?" I hear you say. "You burn incense for the smell." That is very true, but...what type of incense do you use - rolled, dipped, loose, self-combusting? In what type of censer? With or without a fill? Where do you buy your incense, or if you are an incense maker, where do you buy your ingredients?

Mr. Neal covers a wide variety of topics in this book ranging from synthetics-based incenses (not always bad) to natural incenses (not always good) and from loose incense to moist incense - see there's a lot about incense you never knew. It's not all about picking up a package of stick incense or cones at your local shopping center.

There are a number of things which can be said about this book, but the single most important is that this book is interesting. There are any number of informative books on the subject (most of them are readable), but many of them cannot be described as interesting. Mr. Neal shares his thoughts and feelings and even, GASP, tells the reader to listen to their intuition if it contradicts "the experts." Not there's a radical idea.

How many of you know that some ingredients are leading to endangered species status for some botanicals? Have you ever considered the ethical stance of your incense supplier? Have you even considered how the ingredients in mass-produced incenses may affect you physically (or magickaly)? By the time you finish this book, you will be looking at incense use very differently, I guarantee.

Have you ever considered using incense to tell time? To play games? Simply as a sensory experience to be shared among friends? By the time you have read your way through this book, you may find yourself looking forward to experimenting with these and other concepts.

Many incense consumers (and I freely admit I was one) are quite provincial in their approach to, and use of, incense. Oh, I knew there were varieties of forms out there - loose, cone, stick, joss sticks; self-lighting, resins, herbaceous - but I had never really considered the strengths and weaknesses of each form. I had also fallen into the habit of purchasing packs of "self-lighting" charcoal without considering any other options. This book opened my eyes to a more cosmopolitan way of seeing the world of incense. Now I am prepared to spend a bit more time searching out other options and ways of combining incenses.

If you are new to the incense-burning world, or especially if you have been around for a long time and have gotten comfortable with the "standard" approach, take the time to read this book and see what wonders await you - even if you never want to make your own incense. You can still buy "off the shelf" and have experiences you have never imagined.


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