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|- General and Historical Information-|
"The burning of sweet gums, resins, woods, and plants has taken hundreds of beautiful, diverse cultural forms, many of which persist today. Ancient Egyptians burned offerings to the sun god, Ra, on his daily trek across the heavens. Frequent references to the use of incense in the Old Testament suggest that the Jews have used it since very early times. Modern Hindus burn camphor and incense before the image of Krishna. The Greeks burned sweet incenses to make sacrifice and prayer more acceptable to the gods. Little use of incense is evident in Islamic traditions, and incense was unknown in early Buddhism, opposed as it was to external dogma. However, public and private use of incense has now become widespread among Tibetan, Japanese, and Chinese Buddhists. By the fourteenth century, it had become part of most of the established Christian rituals, and is still used for such ceremonies as high mass, processions, and funerals. Modern pagan and neopagan practices also involve highly developed ritual uses of incense. In Native American religion, sage, sweet grass, yerba santa, uva-ursi, cedar, and tobacco are burned ceremonially for purifying oneself and one's environment, for sending up prayers to the Great Spirit, and for connecting with one's spirit helpers - the unseen forces that assist humans.
"Besides its place in ceremony and religion, incense is often used simply to evoke a mood or create an atmosphere...
"Incense makes use of many botanical products which cannot be liquefied or distilled into a perfume. Tree barks and saps, gums, resins, roots, flowers, fragrant leaves, and needles can be combined in myriad ways to create a rising, mood-enhancing bouquet of fragrant smoke. The botanical ingredients may be purchased, grown, or gathered from the wild."
"Incense can take many forms, from simple, loose ingredients to be thrown on glowing coals to ornately shaped cones, cylinders, sticks, or coils. All are fun to make and enjoyable to use. All except loose incense consists of four basic ingredients: an aromatic substance or mixture, a burnable base, a bonding agent, and a liquid to change the bonding agent into a glue. Coloring agents can be added as well." Excerpted from Sandy Maine's "Herbal Incense" article in "The Herb Companion." Dec. 1992/Jan. 1993, Vol. 5, No. 2. Pg. 37. Posted by Cathy Harned.