Mediator between the realms of heaven and earth, matter and spirit, reconnecting us with Father-Mother Creator and sending prayers to the Divine, the golden thread of smoke weaves thousands of years of rituals, prayers, healing mind body and soul.
Smoke rising as fire transforms the essence of things, representing a bond of union, communication between heaven and earth.
Smoke incense and its scent is like the soul that rises to the Divine plane after leaving the body.
If you look in the light, the smoke appears a whitish gold. It is the golden thread that keeps us connected to source, to the Central Sun of our universe. The “golden thread” of incense acts as a mediator between us and the spirit realms.
But incense and its effects has many other different purposes. For instance, archeologists have found incense residue, burners and holders, as well as even recipes, and descriptions of smoke rituals in ancient Mediterranean, Asia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt sites dating back to at least 3300 BCE. These artifacts and texts found in many different cultures show that incense has been used back to the mists of time, particularly during ceremonial occasions, medicinal/healing purposes.
For instance, incense was used to treat lung disease, clear auras, as well as energetically clearing space in homes and temples from energies deemed unsupportive. There is a great amount of information and knowledge about the ways to use incense in rituals.
One universal practice spanning spiritual traditions across the globe, is offering incense at an altar. In Buddhist traditions for example such an act has a very particular symbolic meaning, like the burning of three sticks together signifying the Three Treasures – the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha. There are also the three jewels in Buddhism – Teacher / Teachings / Community.
When the golden thread of incense rises and dissolves into the air it is also a subtle reminder of the transient nature of existence. Use of incense during meditation practise or in performing ritual assists to deepen our attention and empower spiritual focus.
In native American culture and Siberian tribes, medicine men and women usually use sacred wood, dried plants and tree branches. Many other cultures use resin, trees, barks, seeds and leaves are used.
Thanks to modern science and the studies in neuroscience, we know understand how our sense of smell is directly wired into the brain, something the monks, medicine men and women, and our ancestors instinctively knew for millennia. Smells are handled by the olfactory bulb, the structure in the front of the brain that sends information to other areas of the body’s command centre for further processing. Smells take a direct route to limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, the regions related to emotion and memory.
Plants, resins, flowers and roots all affect our brains chemistry in different ways. We can combine ingredients for grounding, focus, heart centre properties or bring stimulating and uplifting effects. Incense can act as an “antidepressant’’ or calm and soothe the system helping to promote good sleep. Some incenses even support deeper night dreaming.
As smell changes our brain chemistry, many different states of being and balance can be achieved. Inhaling certain plants helps to clear the lungs as some plants, especially resins, are antimicrobial. While other plants promote blood circulation and reduce risk of heart problems.
As the smoke fills the room, temple or any space you are in, the smoke energetically clears stagnant energies. Leaving a window or door open if only for a very short time after you have finished smudging stick or burning incense, helps to further “let out” the discordant energies. Of course unless the place is already very clear then aerating, which is the process by which air is circulated, is needed less.
Incense is also powerful source of energy. We can further empower incense with our own energies or at energetically powerful times, using planetary alignments for example. We can also blend incense in powerful places that hold the resonance we want to infuse in the ingredients mix. But in natural incense, just their own inherent energies are enough when burned and released into the space.
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In this way, incense is like a “battery” for magical energy; when you burn it, its energy is set free for you to use. Being clear with your intention or grounding the released energy is vital to harness the desired effect. With planetary incense, it is precise art to mix ingredients at the right moment in time. In as above so below, each plant has their own specific connection with planets and stars. Incense ideally contains carefully selected, organic ingredients representing particular planets and supporting planetary aspects. This charges incense with specific energies.
And finally, we should be weary of synthetic ingredients in incense as these smells are just replicas or gimmicks of natural, pure plants. Despite appealing to our sense of smell, these can even be harmful and toxic to our bodies. With incense, it’s helpful to tune into and be conscious of the resonance it holds, for we are now moving beyond just using our olfactory sense, an approach based on it just purely smelling nice.
When we take into account the deeper meaning, purpose, desired effect and intention of incense, we enter into higher or deeper realms of existence. In a sense, we are blending and merging within ourselves, our channels of experience, and moving into the realm of unity consciousness, where a richer experience of life is available.
Contribution by Kristina čobotaite
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