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Burning Ancient Incenses

During the autumn months, I like to slow down a bit and take the time to enjoy what I am doing. When it comes to burning incense, I like to put away the cones and sticks and break out the resins and charcoal.  It requires a little more time and attention to burn resins, and the pay off is amazing.

Burning resins is the most ancient form of incense that we can still do today.  In fact, the history of humans burning resin can be traced to just before 1700 BCE during the Bronze Age. When burned, the resin would give off an aromatic smoke. It was believed in many ancient cultures that the sweet-smelling smoke was the way to communicate with the gods.

As part of my ancestral rite each Halloween, I reflect on those who have come before me and I draw strength from the collective wisdom and experiences of my ancestors and of the ancient civilizations of long ago. I incorporate the burning of resins during the ritual, and in so doing, I say the following to honor the sacred resin and the ancestors:

I make this offering in the name of inspiration.

Incorporating resins into my ancestral rites keeps me more connected to them as I feel I am physically doing something that they would have, as well.

When burning resin incense, notice the purity of the fragrance. You are burning a single substance that came from the earth that doesn’t include other chemicals, dyes or perfumes. This is the real deal, just as the ancients did it.

You can research indigenous plants and trees in the regions of your ancestors and then purchase the corresponding resins. Or, you could find the resins that were used most often within certain ancient civilizations that you may feel particularly connected to and then use those. For example, the Incans, Aztecs and Mayans burned copal resin at sunrise in South America. Frankincense was popular resin incense used abundantly in ancient Greece and Rome. Further, kyphi incense, a combination of resinous and botanical materials, was burned in temples at night in ancient Egypt.           

How To Burn Resin Incense

  1.    You will need a heat-safe dish, sand or rice, charcoal disks, resin incense, tongs and a lighter.
  2.    Place some sand, about an inch deep, into the bottom of the heat-safe dish. The sand will help absorb some of the heat from the charcoal.
  3.    Using the tongs, pick up the charcoal disk and light one end of it with the lighter (or by using the flame of a lit candle). Wait about 30 seconds for the charcoal to heat through completely.
  4.    Place the hot charcoal on the sand in the dish.
  5.    Now you are ready to burn the incense. Sprinkle a few small pieces on top of the charcoal. Don’t smother the charcoal. Enjoy the fragrant smoke that is produced.

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