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Resins and woods are the raw ingredients of incenses. A resin is the dried sap that was "bled" from a tree. It contains sugars and other compounds found in the plant or tree's sap, which is why most have a sweet scent when burned. Other products in this category are chipped or ground up woods, like Sandalwood. These are often used as a base for powdered incenses, and like resins, most smell very good burned on their own. I also include Sage leaf and smudge sticks in this section because they are used in similar ways.
How to burn resins
The charcoals used to burn resins get very hot. Use a burner made for resin incense, with a metal screen or with sand or rocks to insulate from the heat.
We often break the charcoals in half because they burn for nearly an hour. Light the charcoal with a lighter or match, and when it starts to spark, put it in the burner.
lt is best to let the whole charcoal begin to glow before adding any resin. Then sprinkle on the resin as desired, a little bit at a time. lf you add too much or cover the charcoal completely, you might put out the charcoal. Also, most natural resin incenses smell better when burned in small amounts at a time.
Keep away from kids and pets. Let the charcoal burn down completely, and make sure it's all ash before throwing out because it could set trash on fire. Ask us how we know!
We don't clean the burner after every use. When there is a collection of ash in the burner, pour contents into strainer over the sink and rinse with water. Let dry, and put rocks back in burner. (If you use sand you'll just have to dump the whole mess and use fresh sand).
Store unused charcoal in a zip-lock bag or in a jar, because they won't burn well if they collect humidity from the air.
Sage, New Mexico SageThis "sage" is actually an Artemisia species, A. trilobata, gathered from northern New Mexico near Taos. This herb is used for cleansing similar to White Sage, but has a more feminine, sweeter smell. It has milder purifying powers than White Sage, and is used as well as for blessing purposes. Many people smudge with White Sage first, then with New Mexico Sage as a final blessing before a ceremony.
Desert Sage is often bundled into incense wands called smudge sticks. The loose leaves can also be burned on charcoal alone whole or ground in combination with other resins or herbs. Waft the smoke onto the person or object to be cleansed, or circle around the home or ritual space to cleanse a vicinity, and to bring blessing and serenity.
The below correspondences are vis Cunningham, Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs in plain text, C.L. Zalewski, Herbs in Magic and Alchemy in brackets, or my own interpretations in parenthesis.
Gender: Feminine (Feminine)
Element: Earth, Spirit (Water, Air)
Planet: Venus (Moon)
Zodiac: (Virgo, Libra)
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