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Author Topic: Incense offerings  (Read 3650 times)

EclecticWheel

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Incense offerings
« on: December 02, 2016, 03:13:25 am »
So I was wondering what types of incense offerings people here like to use.

I do not have a particular kind I use as long as I think it has a nice scent.  I do not have a lot of money either.  Usually I have used incense sticks, but in my rituals there are two places to offer incense and it can be a hassle because I do not need it to be burning the entire time in between.

I just need to waft a little incense and that is it.  With the sticks I either have to light it and then put it right out, and it can be sort of messy with the ashes and distracting, or let it burn, and then I might have to use two sticks to make both the offerings.

I have thought about purchasing one of those incense burners used in the church to swing over my altar or table, but I haven't decided yet.  I do not have any experience with it.

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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2016, 05:58:42 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;199665
So I was wondering what types of incense offerings people here like to use.

I do not have a particular kind I use as long as I think it has a nice scent.  I do not have a lot of money either.  Usually I have used incense sticks, but in my rituals there are two places to offer incense and it can be a hassle because I do not need it to be burning the entire time in between.

I just need to waft a little incense and that is it.  With the sticks I either have to light it and then put it right out, and it can be sort of messy with the ashes and distracting, or let it burn, and then I might have to use two sticks to make both the offerings.

I have thought about purchasing one of those incense burners used in the church to swing over my altar or table, but I haven't decided yet.  I do not have any experience with it.

 
I always have some proper church incense handy to burn on charcoal (I get mine from Cenacle; frankincense and myrrh), but save it for feast days. Good quality incense is not cheap, though it goes a long way. For daily prayers, I use sticks as well. My absolute favourite is Anne Stokes' Oak King (white sage). Maroma Fern & Moss is a close second. Lovely clean smells without pungent smoke or too much ash.

Thuribles (hanging censers with chains) look cool, but for home use a handheld censer is probably more practical.
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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2016, 08:45:50 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;199665

I have thought about purchasing one of those incense burners used in the church to swing over my altar or table, but I haven't decided yet.  I do not have any experience with it.

 
I use incense sticks with a wooden core (as I mentioned over on the other recent incense thread, there's a particular bit of my trad's circle cast that requires a stick.) The ones I use, if they're left to burn, will last maybe an hour and a half comfortably, so they comfortably work for the duration of most rituals.

I use them in a long holder that holds the stick at an angle and catches any ash, and it's very quick and easy to dump the ash (which has had plenty of time to cool in open air) in the trash and rinse the holder afterwards. Some people put them in absolutely vertically in a small cauldron full of sand, so the ash falls straight down into the cauldron.

I've personally found the censer incense burners *way* more work than I'm willing to do regularly - if you don't know how they work, you need a base layer of sand or something else that will dissipate heat (and a heat-resistant tile on your altar is also a really sensible idea), then you need to:

1) Carefully light a charcoal disk and let it heat up (which, if you don't want to burn your fingers, probably requires fiddling with both tongs and a source of flame)

2) Hold the disk so you can get it lit through the entire disk (i.e. hold it vertical for 30-60 seconds until the entire layer catches)

3) Put the disk flat in the base layer with the little curved part face up.

4) Carefully spoon your incense onto the disk.

5) Pay attention to how it's burning, if you need to add more incense (and if you have a long ritual and the disk goes out out, you need to repeat all 5 steps again.) There's also no way to stop the disk burning if you have too much incense or need to pause.

6) Once you're done, you have a pile of ash in your previously clean sand (or salt, or whatever other substrate) and either it's ashy and dusty or you dump the whole thing out and clean it, which can be a bit wasteful. Also, this ash will take a while to cool down after ritual, so you can't do the cleanup right away if you've had incense burning throughout, you probably need to wait at least an hour or two.

And related, if you are at *all* prone to clumsiness, there are obviously several places in this whole process where it's really easy to dump burning objects on you or the floor, burn your fingers, dump ash out on top of everything, etc. if you move wrong. And if you want to move the incense around the room, you're going to have to pick up the whole container and not drop it.

I personally find this way more work than I'm willing to do for most rituals, and sticks are, in comparison, much easier to light, stub out if I want to stop having incense, etc. and generally much less distracting to manage, especially if I'm doing ritual work on my own and worry about the cat getting into the incense or me knocking something over.

All of that said, there are some other solutions - tinfoil suspended over a candle, for example - that can be ways to use loose incense that give you a little more control, but also are not very elegant sometimes.
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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2016, 09:10:38 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;199665
So I was wondering what types of incense offerings people here like to use.

I do not have a particular kind I use as long as I think it has a nice scent.  I do not have a lot of money either.  Usually I have used incense sticks, but in my rituals there are two places to offer incense and it can be a hassle because I do not need it to be burning the entire time in between.

I just need to waft a little incense and that is it.  With the sticks I either have to light it and then put it right out, and it can be sort of messy with the ashes and distracting, or let it burn, and then I might have to use two sticks to make both the offerings.

I have thought about purchasing one of those incense burners used in the church to swing over my altar or table, but I haven't decided yet.  I do not have any experience with it.

 
My go-to is stick incense, for ease.  I have two kinds, the one I have the most of has the wooden stick in the middle, but I also have some that are just a molded stick of incense (no stick).  I like the ones with no stick, because I can literally break off however much I want.  But it is a little more brittle so you may want to store it in a box, I have some sticks that broke when I had them in a bag, so some pieces are like an inch long..but still usable!  

You can get the stick (with wood inside) incense in smaller lengths too.  I have some of the more traditional length (which are about 9inches or so?), but I also have some short ones, which are only about 5inches.  So if I just want a quick bit of incense I can use the short ones, but if I want to let it burn for a while, I can use the long ones.

I have several incense burners with the hole for the little stick, but the stickless incense is too wide for those, so I also have a little incense pot (and can use that for the charcoal disks and loose incense as well).  Mine is full of salt, which works as the heat insulator and to hold the sticks in place.  I mix the ash in and just let the salt be a bit grey (you really can't see it as it's down in the pot), plus I can use the ashy-salt later if I want to for protection!

I do have charcoal disks and loose incense, but I don't like it for the reasons that Jennet outlined.  I just find it a bit cumbersome.

I have a friend that makes the little incense cones, and I've bought those commercially as well.  I do like these, and they seem to burn for a decent time but not too long (I'd say around 15 minutes offhand).  I burn them on a little stone circle (it's an incense burner, with the hole in the middle, but also set up for the cones), or you can burn them on your sand/salt pot...or on any fireproof surface, though I do find they leave a little sticky residue, so don't burn them on something you want to stay pretty!

I also have a fancy clay disk, about 4 inches in diameter, with a spiral grove.  It came with powdered incense, which you put in the grove, then light one end and it burns down the spiral.  This one you can stop at any time, just by brushing the incense so there is a gap in it (so the burning part won't reach the unburnt incense).  It does require a bit of setup, and the whole spiral will burn for a good length...plus you have to clean it afterward.  But it is very pretty and I like it a lot for more formal rituals or special occasions.

I also have herb bundles (sage and/or other bundles) that can be lit for short periods and then when you set them down (on a fireproof container) they mostly go out pretty quickly.  In fact I find that sometimes it takes more effort to keep them burning, so they are perfect for short bursts of incense.

I have a Palo Santo stick that a friend gifted me that I can light the end of and it makes a beautiful scent.  Similar to herb bundles, if you light it and let it sit without moving it or blowing on it, most of the time it burns for a little bit and then goes out on it's own, so good for short things as well.

And I burn bay leaves, which are small and flare up quickly, so again, very short bursts (and definitely make sure you have a fire proof container, so when the flame gets close to your fingers you can drop it)  I love the way those smell.
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Jainarayan

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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2016, 10:52:52 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;199665
So I was wondering what types of incense offerings people here like to use.


 
I use several things...

  • Incense sticks.
  • Incense cones.
  • Sambrani.
  • Frankincense and myrrh that comes in small rocks, burned on small charcoal rounds.

I'm an unrepentant and unabashed collector of brass incense holders. :p

  • I put the sticks into the hole on the top of one, or I use a small brass cup or bowl filled with decorative sand (beach sand works fine) and stand the stick up in that. If the bowl has a large enough diameter (3-4") it will also catch the ashes.
  • I put the sambrani or cones either on the sand or in one of the smaller covered holders.
  • I put the charcoal in a heavier brass container, because it gets hot! When it's red hot, I put a few grains of the frankincense and/or myrrh on the charcoal.
When I offer incense I use the stick or cone. I light it at the right time in my puja (ritual), circle it with my right hand clockwise three times in front of the deities while ringing the bell with my lefthand and say oṁ śrī krishnāya namaḥ dhūpam āghrāpayāmi (Sanskrit, lit. "obeisance to Lord Krishna I offer fragrance"). Then I put the stick in its holder and continue. I let it burn out on its own. If you can't let it burn down - have to go out, etc. - extinguish it, then re-light it for your own use later on. It's not cool to re-offer something already used.
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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2016, 06:23:33 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;199677

1) Carefully light a charcoal disk and let it heat up (which, if you don't want to burn your fingers, probably requires fiddling with both tongs and a source of flame)

2) Hold the disk so you can get it lit through the entire disk (i.e. hold it vertical for 30-60 seconds until the entire layer catches)


I've used the charcoal disks, though not for incense per se; I don't try to light them directly. I use a trick I learned at Girl Guide camp and wrap the charcoal in a waxed-paper 'primer' and light that. By the time the paper is burned up, the charcoal is hot.

Quote

6) Once you're done, you have a pile of ash in your previously clean sand (or salt, or whatever other substrate) and either it's ashy and dusty or you dump the whole thing out and clean it, which can be a bit wasteful. Also, this ash will take a while to cool down after ritual, so you can't do the cleanup right away if you've had incense burning throughout, you probably need to wait at least an hour or two.

 
The vessel I use is deep enough that I can douse the whole thing in water.

All that said, I only do this outdoors on a fireproof surface.

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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2016, 08:41:28 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;199677
tinfoil suspended over a candle, for example

 
I actually did this recently using my oil burner. I removed the bowl for the oil and put a bit of tin foil on top, shaping it into a bowl-like structure, and used it to burn some resin incense. It worked really well. Do recommend; will be doing again.

This is the oil burner I have. It's in three parts; in addition to the bowl being removable, the middle part comes off the bottom so you can light the candle. Pretty handy, if hard to pack.
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Beryl

Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2016, 04:19:53 am »
Quote from: Morag;199708
I actually did this recently using my oil burner. I removed the bowl for the oil and put a bit of tin foil on top, shaping it into a bowl-like structure, and used it to burn some resin incense. It worked really well. Do recommend; will be doing again.

 
I can't use joss sticks because something in them gives me a headache (I'm not sure if it's one of the smelly parts or whatever's used to bind the incense to the stick), so I've been looking at ways to burn loose incense - I think I'm too dyspraxic for the charcoal thing but I might try this, or another idea I've seen is to use a small candle (such as a tealight or a small votive) in a jam jar or similar with a steel teastrainer on the mouth of the jar and the incense in that, so I'm planning to try that out soon.

Dusk

Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2016, 09:21:30 pm »
Quote from: Beryl;199714
I can't use joss sticks because something in them gives me a headache (I'm not sure if it's one of the smelly parts or whatever's used to bind the incense to the stick), so I've been looking at ways to burn loose incense - I think I'm too dyspraxic for the charcoal thing but I might try this, or another idea I've seen is to use a small candle (such as a tealight or a small votive) in a jam jar or similar with a steel teastrainer on the mouth of the jar and the incense in that, so I'm planning to try that out soon.

 
I read something that warned against using the glass jar/metal strainer method because the glass can shatter when it gets too hot (because of the metal conducting heat). Serious safety hazard. I would recommend the tinfoil in a fireproof dish method instead, I have never had issues with that and it's very handy and not very smoky.
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Beryl

Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2016, 05:00:56 am »
Quote from: Dusk;199743
I read something that warned against using the glass jar/metal strainer method because the glass can shatter when it gets too hot (because of the metal conducting heat). Serious safety hazard. I would recommend the tinfoil in a fireproof dish method instead, I have never had issues with that and it's very handy and not very smoky.

Oh, yikes, thanks for the warning!! If a mod happens by, I'd be happy for that part of my post to be crossed out or something...
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 05:01:46 am by Beryl »

Jenett

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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2016, 09:26:17 am »
Quote from: Beryl;199746
Oh, yikes, thanks for the warning!! If a mod happens by, I'd be happy for that part of my post to be crossed out or something...

 
With my staff hat on - that's not something we do here, as we'd prefer safety issue to be discussed in thread. It both keeps the whole conversation intact and provides helpful information for people who might come across the thread later. If we took out your suggestion, that wouldn't be true.

We do encourage everyone on the forum to read threads carefully, think through suggestions, and not do something just because someone on the forum suggests it, though.

If you do have questions about your own posts at any time, you can also report it to the staff, just like any other post, using the report post button (the little triangle with the exclamation point).

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Beryl

Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2016, 10:00:13 am »
Quote from: Jenett;199749
With my staff hat on - that's not something we do here, as we'd prefer safety issue to be discussed in thread. It both keeps the whole conversation intact and provides helpful information for people who might come across the thread later. If we took out your suggestion, that wouldn't be true.

We do encourage everyone on the forum to read threads carefully, think through suggestions, and not do something just because someone on the forum suggests it, though.

If you do have questions about your own posts at any time, you can also report it to the staff, just like any other post, using the report post button (the little triangle with the exclamation point).

Jenett
(in staff mode)

 
Ah, that makes sense, thanks :)

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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2016, 01:29:35 am »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;199665
So I was wondering what types of incense offerings people here like to use.

My most usual offerings to the gods are incense and wine, and I usually go with stick incense. Burns smoothly, is easy to clean up, is space-efficient for storage, and isn't overly complicated for clumsy people like me to use. Though I do have a brass incense burner, and have trotted it out for more festive occasions than the weekly rituals.

As far as particular scents, it depends. Certain ones are associated with certain gods, in both ancient and modern lore. But for general purposes, frankincense is pretty universal; it was used so commonly in ancient times that some texts referred to it as just 'incense' without other indicators. So I use a lot of that; I have a lot of dragon's blood incense on hand because it came with a kit, so I use that frequently too. The more important thing is that one is offering something, inviting the gods into your home to present a gift--be it wine, food, or sweet-scented fumes.

About the only one that I use only for special purposes is one that's labelled as "full moon", it's a scented one--I think it's supposed to a combination of jasmine and sandalwood, but I'm not sure. I use it, you guessed it, on rituals on or around the full moon; particularly the dikhomenia.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 01:32:46 am by Louisvillian »

Autumn Sanddancer

Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2016, 01:06:59 pm »
Quote from: EclecticWheel;199665
So I was wondering what types of incense offerings people here like to use.


 
I was just going to post something about incense. Is there particular brands that are better than others? What lasts longer, sticks or cones?

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Re: Incense offerings
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2016, 02:23:01 pm »
Quote from: Autumn Sanddancer;200183
I was just going to post something about incense. Is there particular brands that are better than others? What lasts longer, sticks or cones?
It depends on what you want to do with the incense. Do you want lots of smoke or a little? Heavy fragrance or subtle? What kind of fragrances do you want? Is it an offering or for spellwork? Etc.

Resins and gums are very smoky and have a wonderfully powerful smell. Joss sticks vary a lot with regards to the amount of smoke and fragrance, but tend to not put out as much of either. This is part of what makes them so convenient!

I've never tried the cones, so I can't comment on their merits or drawbacks.
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