My Samhain incense habit
I think this time of the year is also good for a clear out of your magical herbs cupboard. I have lots of new batches of dried herbs harvested from my garden over the last couple of months and no room for them. Time to sort out the herbs and get rid of the old and faded ones. I don’t waste them though. Dried herbs and especially spices do last for a very long time however they do lose their scent and potency over time. At Samhain I have a sort out and use the old faded herbs to create incense or fire blends.
Samhain is the perfect time to create a really deep rich scented incense blend, but you can make blends any time of the year for any purpose.
Keep it cheap
My recommendation is to not spend lots of money on expensive ingredients, you are going to burn them after all. Take a look through your kitchen cupboard and see what you have. Spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods work very well in incense blends and all the usual culinary dried herbs such as parsley, thyme and oregano can be used in incense. Everything in my garden is fair game, I dry all the flowers and seed pods and even some of the leaves, these all make good incense ingredients. The only item that I need to purchase is the resin.
I am sure most of us use incense in one form or another and it is really easy to make, especially the loose incense that you burn on a charcoal disc. I also like to create blends to throw on the fire when I am working with the fire pit. Sprinkling a handful of herbs and spices onto the flames helps with images for fire and smoke divination.
Another option especially if you don’t do well with incense smoke is to use it on an oil burner. Pop a bit of candle wax in the oil burner dish, then add a spoonful of the incense blend. Light the candle underneath and as the heat melts the wax it also sends out the scent from the incense but without the smoke.
Start with a base, a resin is good such as frankincense or copal. Adding a wood of some sort helps your incense to burn longer too, something like sandalwood, or if you are using home grown dried herbs the woody stems of herbs can be added in too (rosemary stems work particularly well). Then the choice is up to you, whether you go for the scent you like or for the intent. Incense can be made for prosperity, love, success etc. but you can also make incense to correspond with the moon phase, a sabbat, a particular ritual or to honour a specific deity.I also like to add a few drops of essential oil to my incense mix once I have finished it as well, just to give it an extra boost of scent and power.
Remember that incense put together for magical purpose may not always smell particularly pleasant, it is the energies of the herbs that are important.
I would also suggest keeping it simple, too many ingredients and it gets complicated. Less is more as they say.
Pick ‘n choose
Pick your base resin and/or wood tying them into your intent, and then add your herbs, spices and flowers – keep them corresponding to your intent. If you are making an incense to represent the element of air you would choose herbs that relate to that element such as anise, lavender and mint perhaps. If you were making incense to honour the Goddess you might use lemon balm, geranium and thyme as these are all feminine herbs.
Don’t forget that loose incense burnt on charcoal makes quite a bit of smoke especially if you have included a resin.
Suggested ingredients for Samhain blends:
Mint, nutmeg, apple, patchouli, myrrh, copal, clove, marigold/calendula, sage, mugwort, pumpkin seeds, rosemary, rue, chillies, black peppercorns, bay, almond, pine, anise, pomegranate, rowan, sandalwood and heliotrope/sunflower.
These are only suggestions, go with what you have to hand and trust your intuition. I do encourage you to experiment, play around with what you have and mix ‘n match different ingredients – see what works for you.
Samhain incense recipe:
Equal parts of each:
A few drops of patchouli oil
Samhain incense recipe 2:
Equal parts of each:
A few drops of jasmine oil
Pumpkin incense recipe:
½ part clove
1-part benzoin resin
1-part pumpkin seeds
Samhain apple incense recipe:
1-part dried apple
½ part clove
1-part copal resin