For the past few years, at the end of July, I teach a “Working with Herbs” class. It is often the last class of the season and I try to make it a little special.
My challenge is that there are several people who have taken each class and I therefore work at coming up with different things to do with herbs, just to keep it interesting for the repeaters. We do sweets and savouries, beverages and infusions; treats to eat in class and bottles to fill and take home.
In the process of chatting about options the idea of incense came up. It was intriguing and I liked the idea of learning to do something new and just a little bit different! Incense can be used to clear/change the energy of a room. It is used in ceremony to connect and activate the sense of smell and the element of air to the present moment. The smoke can also be used in a similar way to prayer flags; intentions, carried on the flow of the air, out into the world. In some cultures, the smoke is used by women as a cleanser/deodorant. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to make your own?
In perfect synchronicity the next day an email from Learning Herbs arrived with a post by Rosalee de la Forêt and step by step instructions. I gave it a go and for once I actually tried to follow the steps as written without adjusting along the way. Rosalee made several other herbal combination suggestions so please, if you are feeling inspiration tingling, check out her full post.
You will need:
1 Tbsp. lemongrass
1 ½ tsp. rosemary
1 ½ tsp. lavender
1 tsp. marshmallow root
1/2 – 1 Tbsp. water
The lavender was reasonable but the lemongrass was left in short little pieces that would not get any smaller, no matter how long the machine was on. If you have access to lemongrass powder, that would be closer to what was intended but what I managed still worked.
Mix the powders together. When thoroughly mixed add water but only 5 – 10 drops at a time. You want to add the water in such small amounts so as to make sure there is never too much. The cones will take longer to dry and if not fully dried, they will not burn effectively.
Press the water into the herbs. Using the back of a spoon is helpful and stirring is not. Think of making bath balms. They need just enough water so that everything will stick together. Too much and shapes begin to fall apart.
When the mixture stays together, start breaking off small portions and squeezing the mixture into cones. Long and thin works best with pointy tips for easy lighting.I made 11 cones from the amounts above that were placed on a saucer and left in the hot garage to dry. The weather here was hot over the next few days and on day five, I gave one a trial burn. There be smoke! If yours don’t, they probably just need a few more days to dry before trying again.
Always place incense in a fireproof location to burn. This is the same as burning candles and fire needs to be treated with respect. In other words don’t do what I did to get the picture below. Incense is not a good fit in this house so no small, pretty bowls to burn a cone in.
The cone burned for about 8 minutes and I didn’t find this mixture overpowering in any way. I love the fact that there are only herbs in the mix and I am looking forward to learning more about other methods as opportunities present themselves.