While controversies over incense use were not entirely absent, the connections between fragrance and the sacred appear to have continued. This continuity is partly due to the Christian hymnographer Ephrem the Syrian (c306-373 CE), who offers a powerful interpretation of scripture, linking scent with purity and Christ’s divine presence.
The seventh-century Etymologies of Isidore of Seville also links incense with medicine. However, this discussion appears to be a holdover from his classical and late antique sources.
Why Do People Burn Incense?
Many people burn incense to add a pleasant scent to their environment and to boost concentration and focus. They also may use it to aid in meditation. Some people believe that certain scents like lavender and sage can help to relax the mind and body while increasing mental clarity.
Historically, incense has been burned as a spiritual and religious offering to deities and spirits. It is even believed that it can protect us from evil and negative energies. Incense is also used during special ceremonies and rituals such as the Lunar New Year.
Many people use incense to create a more peaceful and relaxing atmosphere at home or work. Some also believe that incense can enhance their meditative experience and can aid in the healing process. However, it is important to note that inhaling smoke from burning incense can be harmful to your health. This is because incense produces high levels of particulate matter that can penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream. To mitigate this risk, it is best to burn incense in a well-ventilated room and open windows during and after the burning of incense.
What is Incense?
Essentially, incense is aromatic biotic material that releases fragrant smoke when burnt. It can take a variety of forms and is used for aesthetic reasons, religious worship, aromatherapy, meditation, and ceremonies.
Stick incense is typically shaped into a stick and is direct burning, meaning it’s lit directly on the embers of the flame. It’s a very popular form of incense that is used in many temples, shrines and homes.
Cone-shaped incense is more intense than sticks or coils and emits much more smoke. It’s great for sweeping away previous energies and clearing space to allow your own energy to shine through.
Incense is often dipped into trays of damp incense mixture made with natural binders and fragrance materials. The mix is then coated onto the supporting material – such as wood or thin bamboo sticks – and dried in open air for a short period of time. The resulting incense is then ready for use.
What are the Different Types of Incense?
There are many different types of incense. Sticks of aromatic incense are the most familiar type. They typically come in two forms: sticks with a bamboo core (like Nag Champa) and those that do not (like Japanese joss sticks, or Taoist and Buddhist Chinese jing xiang ‘offering incense to the gods/ancestors’).
Direct burning incense is generally pressed into a shape or coated on a supporting material for ease of use and aesthetic whimsy. These incenses are usually composed of a blend of finely ground fragranced incense ingredients and an odourless binder.
Some incense is also made by kneading raw incense materials together, such as the raw resinous incenses boswellia and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), or herbaceous incenses like lavender. These raw incense materials can be burned directly on a charcoal disk, but it is important to always burn them with an appropriate holder and using the right tools. For the best experience, it is important to choose natural scents with low concentrations of chemical additives.
What are the Advantages of Incense?
Just like some people love tea and others have a healthy obsession with wine – many people have an appreciation for burning incense. It is a very personal interest that has a lot to explore and discover as we find fragrances that affect us differently.
Adding a stick of lavender or sage incense to your bedtime routine can help reduce insomnia and the relaxing scent will help you unwind. It’s also an excellent way to freshen up a room and remove any energy that might be lingering after a hectic day.
Incense can also be used for religious rites and practices as well as for spiritual purposes. The smells inhaled can be a powerful form of communication that can help stimulate the mind and body to heal itself. The smells can also be a great distraction and give our sense of smell something to focus on instead of the mundane everyday tasks that often seem to take up most of our time.