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Author Topic: Question about Altar Incense  (Read 1995 times)

Grey Bear

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Question about Altar Incense
« on: December 01, 2016, 10:40:10 am »
My wife has asthma, and she has requested that I do not burn any incense. What can I substitute for burning incense?  Or is it ok to just leave it out completely? :confused:  I had thought of placing some cloves, a cinnamon stick, and some other nice smelling things in a net bag to place on my altar in place of the sensor.  What do you think?

Sarah

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Re: Question about Altar Incense
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2016, 10:53:47 am »
Quote from: Grey Bear;199604
My wife has asthma, and she has requested that I do not burn any incense. What can I substitute for burning incense?  Or is it ok to just leave it out completely? :confused:  I had thought of placing some cloves, a cinnamon stick, and some other nice smelling things in a net bag to place on my altar in place of the sensor.  What do you think?

 
I am asthmatic and i find incense a trigger sometimes so I mostly tend to use essential oils instead. Weather it is ok or not depends on what path you are following. But I tend to think if my practice was damaging my health or the health of someone i share space with then it is not a good fit for me overall
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Darkhawk

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Re: Question about Altar Incense
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2016, 11:32:48 am »
Quote from: Grey Bear;199604
My wife has asthma, and she has requested that I do not burn any incense. What can I substitute for burning incense?  Or is it ok to just leave it out completely? :confused:  I had thought of placing some cloves, a cinnamon stick, and some other nice smelling things in a net bag to place on my altar in place of the sensor.  What do you think?

An oil diffuser may or may not be acceptable to your wife, depending on what her triggers actually are.  Putting out other scented items may also do well.

What substitutes work best, and whether or not it's necessary at all, depend entirely on what religion you're working with.

For example, if you need a representation of air, a feather or a fan may do what you need, whereas if you're dealing with incense as the harbinger and presence of the divine, then you probably need something with scent.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 11:33:35 am by Darkhawk »
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Jenett

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Re: Question about Altar Incense
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2016, 12:56:45 pm »
Quote from: Grey Bear;199604
My wife has asthma, and she has requested that I do not burn any incense. What can I substitute for burning incense?  Or is it ok to just leave it out completely? :confused:  I had thought of placing some cloves, a cinnamon stick, and some other nice smelling things in a net bag to place on my altar in place of the sensor.  What do you think?

 
I'm also asthmatic, and what I use depends on what the goal is. Here are some of my solutions:

Specific use of incense for hard to edit reasons
It sounds like this isn't an issue for you, but I want to mention it as something there are some solutions to.

One part of my specific tradition's practices involves the use of stick incense for one part of our circle casting (there's another part where incense is preferable but could be more easily altered, too.) that there isn't a good alternative to.

I've found that being careful about my sourcing and ingredients helps a lot, as well as keeping the amount used to a minimum. (My trad doesn't have specifics about what incense it is, as long as it's not distracting to the ritual.)

So, for example, I react badly to a lot of the cheaper commercial incenses with cheap wood cores and artificial scents, but I either don't react much or not at all to a number of the handmade incenses from small sellers, if I avoid a couple of specific ingredients. (I also burn only one stick, run an air filter in the ritual space which I do routinely anyway, and if I only want it for the circle casting rather than later in the ritual, I'll often stub out the stick so I use only an inch or so total.)

When scent is the desired thing
As Darkhawk mentions, using an oil infuser can work well for this, if essential oils or natural perfumes are things that your wife tolerates. Some people also use wax burners for this (the things that heat scented wax.)

If having it in the air is a problem, a few drops of the relevant scent on your wrist (if it washes off quickly) or on a small piece of cloth in a container you can close when it's not in use can also work.

For specific herbal associations for a particular work
i.e. if you would be burning a particular incense for prosperity as part of a prosperity working, something like that: just use those herbs in another format, as appropriate.

As a representation of air
There are plenty of other options - some of them may or may not fit well with some uses (for example, a common standard blessing method involves combining salt and water, and fire and incense, to create the two tools of blessing, and not using incense makes this a bit trickier, but you could carry a candle and use a fan to waft the smoke from the candle briefly around the room, for example.)

Common alternate representations for air include feathers and feathers. Some people also use items like bells, chimes, or a fancy pen.

(One nice trick with ribbons - and this can work well for elemental altars - is to get cheap ribbon, the kind that comes on slim rolls. Get four or five colours for each element - so shades of pastel blue and pink and purple/pale yellows/pale gray/maybe white depending on your associations - and combine 3-6 strands of each colour, tied in a knot at one end. These can be hung near altars, waved around, put on an altar, etc. in a variety of uses, but they pack up small and don't take a lot of management once they're made.)

For atmosphere or subtle setting of intention
There are lots of other methods of creating an atmosphere that speaks to your senses, and many of them are useful in ritual.

Since scent is a powerful one for our memories and bodies (a lot of groups use the same incense or similar ones as a trigger of 'now we are in ritual mindset' so just avoiding it can be less than useful here), you can try things like making a cup of tea before you begin, having a specific food that you can link with scent memories, etc. instead.

If you need to avoid things with scent or smoke, then stepping up on other aspects may be worth doing - things like altar cloths, decorations that change for the ritual (even something as simple as some inexpensive flowers, silk flower decorations, or ribbons can do a lot without being a lot to maintain).

Lighting can help a lot - right after Christmas is a great time to get decorative lights on sale, and plugging in a strand of those in your ritual space rather than using overhead lights goes a long way to saying "this is a ritual, not whatever else I normally do here."
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AsraiDouglas

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Re: Question about Altar Incense
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2016, 06:58:42 pm »
Quote from: Grey Bear;199604
My wife has asthma, and she has requested that I do not burn any incense. What can I substitute for burning incense?  Or is it ok to just leave it out completely? :confused:  I had thought of placing some cloves, a cinnamon stick, and some other nice smelling things in a net bag to place on my altar in place of the sensor.  What do you think?
I have allergies that can be exacerbated by incense smoke. Sometimes I use a teapot warmer with a tealight, and place a small heat-resistant container over it with water and herbs and let it simmer.

Sometimes I do this on my stove as well in a large pot for whole-house fragrance.

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Obsydian

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Re: Question about Altar Incense
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 07:42:52 pm »
Quote from: Grey Bear;199604
My wife has asthma, and she has requested that I do not burn any incense. What can I substitute for burning incense?  Or is it ok to just leave it out completely? :confused:  I had thought of placing some cloves, a cinnamon stick, and some other nice smelling things in a net bag to place on my altar in place of the sensor.  What do you think?

 
I too am asthmatic, but I find that using Japanese incense barely affects me at all.  It has no stick inside of it, it's all pure incense, and it creates a lot less smoke than the cored versions.  

Other substitutes I've used for incense include a bottle of perfume oil, wafted up with my hands to distribute the scent, perfume sprayed onto a cotton ball, and dripping a little essential oil in a small bowl of water.

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