Category Archives: Magical Baths
Starting to work with Magical Incense and Powders
An introduction to Powdered Incense and Magical Powders
Who I am and Why I do this
My name is Loona Wynds. I have been a practicing with for many years. I started as a teenager. At the time the only incense that was available to me for my spell work was the commercial large brands I could find at the local music store. Which for me at the time was great. Once and a while I was get a chance to go to a Hippy shop where I could buy Frankincense sticks, Myrrh, and my favorite Dragons Blood. These worked fine for a 13 year old who was just starting out on her journey in witchcraft but after working with them for 5 years things changed.
Most of the commercial incense (not Nag Champa) use synthetic scents. These are chemicals whose scents mimic natural scents from herbs and resins, and for some people these are fine. However my fiance can not breathe with those types of scents burning. Not wanting to stop my ritual work and my spell work I started to get supplies to craft and make my own powdered natural incense.
This was 10 years ago. I would only make some incense as I needed it now. I would store the rest for future use. This for me just meant more trips to the Leapin Lizards, the local metaphysical store for new herbs and resins for different blends. Making incense for me made me feel at my witchiest.
I was in control of all the energy in the blend. I was the one who was able to blend, mix, and shape the energetic forces of the incense to do as I willed. I got into a trance and I could really feel that the incense was in fact a spell in the making. The grinding of the resins and flowers or roots together put the physical energy of my desire into the work which lead to manifestation. This was how I started to understand the real essence of herbal magic.
I’m going to be honest right here and right now. I never once used a recipe for my incenses. I never once had a book top guide me in the steps. My only resources were the herbal packets themselves which had properties and uses on the back and Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Herbs. I was purely using my intuition, my inner knowing as the old conjureers call it. So all of my blends were unique. They were never the same twice, and at the time I didn’t bother to record what I was doing as they were all experiments of the spiritual science of magical herbalism and spiritual aromatherapy.
3 years ago My fiance noticed that though I was trying really hard I was simply not able to find a job. I applied everywhere and I even had a few interviews. Nothing was working. One of my dreams has always been to have my own Metaphysical shop where I could sell supplies to people on their spiritual journeys and help them grow as a witch or pagan or what ever they identified as.
We had been told that because of me history I may be able to get a grant through the Small Business Development center. I talked to my worker helping me find work and we decided to try to go this route. After doing a test market of my tinctures, incenses, and some basic herbs I was able to prove that this was a dream that would work. And now with their help I have come to be able to make and sell the incenses and powders that I do.
Why work with powdered incense?
The most original form of incense is pure herbal incense. The witches, priests, shamans, and magic workers would dry plants and herbs and throw them on the fire for an effect during ritual. Over time they created different herbal combinations for different rituals and workings. From there they developed working with small batches for an individual working rather than a full community ritual. These small batches are how witches continue to work.
By working with the loose herbal and resin form of incense you can control the power of the essence more effectively. You are also able to communicate with the spirits of the plants. While they have been dried and harvested the dried plants are like the bone of a person. They still contain aspects of the plants spirit and essence. When we make powdered incenses for spell and ritual work it is this essence that we are tapping into. It is this part of the plants spirit we are working with.
While most incense stick may have some traces of essential oils in the blends you are not dealing with a pure plant essence. You are simply dealing with the chemical concoctions. To get a connection with the natural essence of the plant you want to work with dried plants that you either gather yourself (the best option) or buy from a reputable supplier. Otherwise you may not even be talking to or working with the plant spirit.
In essence witches work with the spirits of the plants they work with. Using powdered incense that you make yourself is one of the best ways that you can start working with the plant spirits. You can feel them, speak to them, and get a sense for their energetic properties. Over time the more you work with the plants the more they will teach you about them and working with them. I worked with marigold for years in spell work and incense before it revealed its uses in money,finance, and succsess work. Prior to that most of my work had been with the healing attributes and the psychic development attributes and its still one of my main go to for those works.
What are Magical Powders?
Magical powders are not as common in witchcraft as they are in Hoodoo and other folklore and folk magic tradition. Powders are a very effective way to work magic without being seen or known. Powders are effective because they work in silence and in the shadows without much fuss or muss. You are simply sprinkling a mixture around an area or on an object and letting the powder do the work.
In magical powders it really is the spirit of the plants that are doing the work. While incense send the words and prayers up to Gods and spirits other than the plant spirits, powders are direct to the earth. Its just the plants, your intent, and mother earth that makes things work. In magical powders you are really relying on the inner conjure power of the plants and of their spirits. They will work for you if you are respectful to them.
Not all magical powders are plant matter though. Several powders like Red brick dust, and grave yard dirt are not based on plant matter but on the organic matter of them. They are still full of power because of the spirits in them. The spirit of the place is an important aspect of gathering these powders.
Grave yard dirt is gathered at the cemetery and used in rituals depending on the grave it came from. This dirt can contain plant matter but in essence instead of the plants you are working with the spirit from the grave where you took the dirt from while. This is why it s important to do research on the grave you take the dirt from and give them an offering. It is also for this reason that most people will gather graveyard dirt from the cemeteries of their ancestors or beloved dead.
Powders like Hotfoot and black salt are often made with herbs as well as other items. In these powders it is still the plant spirits that are working for you, but it is also your intention in the work. Your desire and knowing that the work will be done that makes it work. The herbs are what boost the intent for the powder and it is sprinkling them onto the earth or object that makes it work.
Why you should make your own
Making your own incense and powders is one of the best things you can do in magic and witchcraft. I say this because it allows you to really control the power and the intent in the product. No one else but you really knows what type of healing you need done or what your money issues are. By making your own you can really be the magic and be the power behind the working.
It is important to remember that intent is everything in magic and witchcraft. When you start to make your own blends you get to put your emotional state and your intent into the product from the very beginning. You are asking the spirits of the plants to aid you in this work and lend their power to your working. By stating this while you blend and grind the power gets transferred and the energy mixes very well.
While you can use products that have been pre-charged and made by others you will not have as much control over the energy in the product. They will not have your emotional connection to the spell or working you are trying to do. The creator of the incense or powder can ask the spirits of the plants to charge the creation for a specific purpose and it will work, just not as effective. They will put their own emotional charge into the work as their blessing but without your own inner emotional force it is missing and aspect to be as effective as it can be.
You are the magic. It is your will that directs magic. This is why even when buying stuff from a store you will need to spend your own emotional energy as you do the work. You will have to make sure that all of your energy gets into the working so that the spirits know your desire and can work for your intent. This is why in the end I prefer to make all my own products. It has my partnership with the plant spirits starting from the moment I choose the herbs.
Tools of the Trade
There are several different tools involved in making incense and powders. You have the Mortar and Pestle, the scale, a mixing bowl, wand, yourself, bags and or containers, and of course the herbs,resins, and essential oils that you wish to work with. Each of these tools plays a central part in creating your own unique blends of incenses and powders.
The most important tool is the Mortar and Pestal. Right now I do not have any in stock but my friend does at his shop: Mortar and Pestle. The mortar and Pestle is how you actually grind and blend the herbs in the incense and powder making. You choose the herbs, weigh the amounts out and grind them. Some people grind them one at a time and then place everything in a mixing bowl for a final blending with hands or a wand. Other people will blend and grind them all within the Mortar and Pestle. My advice is to start with one herb at a time. Once you get a feel for the power it takes to grind the herbs in this fashion you can add more herbs to the blend at a time.
The next tool you need are baggies or some sort of storage container. Once you have made your incense any that you do not burn in a spell or ritual (and a little of homemade magic goes along ways) you will want to be able to store it. This is the reason I keep most pickle, salsa, and jelly jars. I can us it for storage of incense, powders, and other blends. You never know when you will want to do a particular ritual again so it is important to know you can use the same blend again.
You also want to have some sort of paper to record what you did. This way you will know what you made and be able to make it again if it work perfectly. If something did not work well (and not every blend works out perfectly the first time) you want to look at what you did so you can try and tweak the recipe and make changes. This is also a good way to track any manifestations from the work.
A mixing bowl is great if you only have a small mortar and pestle and need more space to blend your herbal mixture. In this you can fold and mix and blend the herbs ground or not to your hearts content. I typically do a mixture of using a wand or using my hands. The wands are great at blasting a direct force of energy into the mixture while my hands do a subtle constant exchange through my personal touch.
One of the reasons I like to use my hands is that I get a direct personal connection with the herbs that I am working with. As I dig into the herbs I can feel them mix and I can feel the energy as they blend. I can feel the plants talking together about the purpose and mingling to the best of their abilities. It also lets me connect with the first witch, the earth mother as all plants are small representatives of the Earth mother.
Unless you are following a specific recipe you really dont need a scale or measuring devices. If you are following your intuition you can just work with what feels right. In Mystic Echoes because of the large amount of product I create in a single sitting I weigh the ingredients out by the ounce. For your own personal use if you want to keep accurate records tablespoons or teaspoons are all you are going to need.
Finally you need to have the herbs. Your herbs, resins, and essential oils are the most important part of the process. With out the herbs, essential oils, and resins you will not have any sort of incense and powder. These are what make your blend your own. There are hundreds of herbs out there many with similar properties. It is your personal choice of the herbs you work with and in what amounts that will make your incense blends really your own.
Choosing the Herbs and essences
The herbs are what make up your powder and your incense.So it is important to choose the right herbs for the right blend. In two follow up posts I am going to give recipes for a protect your love powder and a love incense. For now we will cover resources and how to choose the herb to work with for your unique products.
There are many uses for many different herbs on the market. One of my favorites Dragonsblood (which is a resin) can be used for protection, but also love, lust, money, exorcism, and power. Its also an offering specific to Dragon spirits. Another herb Angelica root has Angelic Work, Protection, Hex Removal,Exorcisms, Health, Meditation, and Divination as associations. Every herb on the market has properties that make them versatile in spell work and in ritual work.
So how do you choose? One of the things I do is I look up a few recipes in the various book resources I have. I then write down the recipies that appeal to me. After having 3 or 4 different recipes I see what is common in them and what is different. I write down all the herbs that are mentioned and go from there. This is where my intuition and working with the spirit comes into play. This is where I let the spirit of the plants guide me.
Once I have a few guides to look at I see what the herbs themselves have to tell me. More often than not the blend I end up with is different than the one that I had intended to use. I can see a lust recipe and start working with the herbs I thought might be good and half way through the creation I get a message from an herb “hey your supposed to use me” or a sensation that another plant would work better in the blend. So I put aside the herb I was going to use and grab the one that told me to work with it.
For those who are new to working with incenses and powders my advice is to actually follow a recipe unless something tells you very strongly to use something else. In this case many of the books that have recipes and associations with herbs and oils will have replacements or herbs that can be used interchangeably.
This is where many people can start to panic. They might not have the exotic herbs like Dragons Blood or Angelica root. But they have something like Basil and black pepper in their kitchen cabinet. Often times I get asked can I use the same herbs I use in cooking for magic? And my response is very much yes! Cinnamon is a good example here. Cinnamon has properties of money, luck, love, lust, protection, and prosperity. Black pepper has protection, removal, and magical offense properties. Your kitchen cabinet has many magical options for you.
This is my point here. Use what you have on hand. In the ancient times the witches and priests only had what they could gather locally in the woods or that they could grow in their gardens. If its something you have in your home I guarantee you can use it in incense or powders. By doing this you are also well on your way to learning about kitchen witchcraft as well. I will cover kitchen witchcraft herbs and kitchen witchcraft spells in another post but for now I’ll make the point clear again. Use what you have on hand.
Working with powders and Loose Herbal Incense
Working with loose herbal incense does require a few additional tools. You need to have charcoal discs and a censor to burn the charcoal disc in.
The reason I suggest you use those longer lighters is that the charcoal discs spark when they are being lit. It is these sparks across the disc that actually start it burning. Once it has been sparking you will see a red ring around the charcoal. Using tongs place it in the censor and sprinkle the incense on the disc as needed for the spell or ritual. Now your incense is being used in a spell or formal ritual work.
Powdered incense or loose herbal incense can be used in more than just formal rituals. You can use them as powders sprinkling them in packets, satchets, or around properties. They can also be used as incense by being burned for offerings to spirits and the Gods. In rituals they provide atmosphere and make the place feel and seem sacred.
The best way I have found to work with powdered and loose herbal incsnes is both as a powder and as an incense. When yuo burn the incense your intent is carried by the smoke to the spirits of the air and to the universe via your prayer and charge into the incense when you light it. Adding it to packets or rubbing the powder on candles will continue the effect and allow another way for the energy of the incense to work.
All of the powdered incenses found at Mystic Echoes:Loose herbal incense & magical Powders by Mystic Echoes can be used as a powder or as an incense. They are very versatile.
Powdered incense has one final beneficial use. There are some incense blends like the Happiness Blend and the Stress Relief blends which can be used as aromatherapy. By buring certain scents a person can heal and change their emotional state. This is one of the benefits of powdered and herbal incense. Variations of the Healing Incense would be burned during many healing ritual baths and they would be one of the best aspects of the bath-the soothing scent and caress of the spirits of the plants aiding me in my healing work.
Powders are best used in spells. You can use them to bless a work place by making a blessing powder. The only way they can really effectivly be used in rituals is when they are made in the rituals. For example at Maine Pagan Unity Day after making a love and protect my love incense and powder in my workshop I had some left that I went outside and sprinkled on the ground as a thank you. It was part of the ritual of friendship in the making of the blends and sprinkling it was a thank you and a spreading of the blessings.
You can use them in many different types of spells. In candle magic you roll a candle in the powder as part of dressing the candles. In packets you feed the packets with the powder to keep them going and you can also add them to the packets in the process of making the packet. You can sprinkle them around the house for protection or removal depending on the powder. There are some who even use them in freezing spells and jar spells. In essence you could use them in any spell work you can imagine. With all magic the only limit to their use is your imagination.
Today I am going to end this blog post with a few books and resources on herbal magic and associations. These are books that I go to every time for my workings.
Papa Jim’s Herbal Magic workbook by Papa Jim
Herb Magic for Beginners By Ellen Dugan
Mama D’s Herbal by Dru Ann Welch
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Backwoods Shamanism by Ray Hess (small but valuable correspondences section)
Magical Herbalism by Scott Cuningham
Kitchen Witchery by Marilyn F. Daniel
Magical Aromatherapy By Scott Cunningham
The complete book of Incense Oils and Brews by Scott Cunningham
Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic by Catherine Yronwode
The complete book of Incense, Oils, & Brews is a wonderful guide to working with these practices. Like many of his other texts the author Scott Cunningham created a very useful and effective resource for working many different types of magical spells and rituals. This text works great in companion with his Aromatherapy book and his two Herbal Magic books-Herbal Magic and his Magical Herbal encyclopedia or it can be used effectively on its own as its own resource. The text provides a comprehensive list of tools you will need as well as instructions on how to make the different items found within the book.
This book is broken up into three different sections. Each section addresses a specific aspect of working with and creating incenses, oils, soaps and more. This organization makes the book ideal as a reference guide for making these powerful spiritual and magical aids. By having the three sections a beginner to incense and oil work will be able to get the most out of it while an experienced crafter will also be able to find just what they are looking for and nothing else.
The first section deals with magic basics, proportions, empowering the creations, ingredients and creating your own recipes. This is the foundational portion of the book. Here the author goes into the very basics of what you need to know in order to make the most out of thi reference guide.
The first chapter here is on magic basics. While many people interested in this text probably have a basic understanding of the practices and concepts associated with magical practice this chapter is a nice refresher. For those new to magic the information here is very basic and a great introduction for some one who wants to have practical applications right away. The chapter covers ethics, power, working for yourself and working for others. It also covers the basic magical tools that you may need in your journey within this text.
The second chapter is very brief. This chapter was included because people asked for specific proportions to the ingredients in individual recipes from an earlier edition of this book. This chapter says to use them as guidelines but also to trust your intuition and personal judgement. The importance of keeping a record of your work is stressed here as well.
The third chapter focuses on empowering your creation. After you make an incense or an oil they need to be charged for use. This chapter gives you a small ritual way to empower these new objects as well as explains why additional power is needed for the incenses, oils, and brews to be effective.
The fourth chapter is a chapter on the ingredients that you will find in some of the recipes. Here the author mentions how we can obtain the items for various recipes. The chapter also gives information about uncommon terms and ingredients that might be found within magical oils and incenses. The explanation here provides an easy guide to the ingredients listed later on in the book.
The last chapter in the first section is all about creating your own recipes. As some one who makes their own incense blends this is a chapter I refer to often to check my process. Here the author explains that you can use what you have to make things work. The guide includes thinking about the form of what you are going to make and then herbs and other associations. There is even a sample incense process given to illustrate the process involved.
The second section makes up the bulk of the book. This is where you have the recipes for the incenses, oils, brews, and other items contained in this book. This is the real reference section here. This section provides beginners with step by step recipes to work with from the beginning and allows experiences crafters and practitioners to find inspiration for their own work. The types of items covered allows every one to find something they can work with.
The section starts off with incenses. Working with incenses is one of the most common herbal and magical or spiritual practices and it covers many cultures so it makes a great starting base. In the first section of this chapter the author talks about the two different types of incenses and the benefits and issues of working with either one. He gives a step by step guide on how to make the different types of incenses. Then he starts the recipe selection. One of the key parts of this section is how the book notes which incenses shouldn’t be inhaled and or that contain dangerous ingredient so you may want to look up a substitute.
After the incenses Cunningham discusses making oils. In this section the author talks about how you can make oils and also which oils work well on their own for different purposes. The first part of this chapter is the how to and the second section covers the recipes and guides on making the oils.
After oils the author covers in this order Ointments, Inks, Tinctures, Herb Baths, Bath salts, Brews and potions, Soaps, Herbal satchels, Powders, and miscellaneous. Each section contains as the previous sections did how to make the items and why they are being used. The recipes cover many different needs allowing for a wide variety of practices and magical tools.
The last section deals with different ways you can make substitutions in your work allowing for a person to work with what is available rather than needing to get a lot of expensive new herbs and items. The author includes planetary substitutes, herbs & basic ingredients,elemental, and need based. This section allows a person to be able to make anything they want and need based on what they have in their home and maximize them to the fullest extent.