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A Handbook of Botanical Incenses
by Rowan Fairgrove

My meaning come mostly from "traditional" sources but in my actual teaching and working I place more emphasis on what an
individual scent does to the worker.  In my beginning classes I simply passed around a collection of incenses and had each
member tell what it meant to them and then we talked about the "traditional" meaning.  If, for example, the traditional meaning for cinnamon is concentration and you smell it and think of grandma's pumpkin pie and all you can think about is food,
it is not going to be appropriate to burn to help you study!


...Botanical and other incense are a tool which can be tailored to the user's desire.  At their simplest they may be used to stimulate the sense of smell and bring enjoyment to those nearby, alternatively, they can be a subtle compilation designed to create a specific ambiance for a ritual or magical operation.

The following guide contains some botanical (and a few other substances) and their uses when burned.  The attributes have
been derived from a great many sources, both published and personal communication, and like most magical properties
they are most effective when tailored to the individual or group using them.  So sit down and burn some and see if they
work for you.  Try combinations.  I have included some recipes which have worked for myself and others in the hopes that you  will find them useful.  Happy Censing!

A Scheme of Things:

The botanicals which I will discuss fall into several broad categories:

1)  EVOCATIVE - used to get the attention of divinities or to summon spirits
2)  DIVINATORY - used to foretell the future or to see hidden secrets
3)  PURIFICATORY - used to purify the purpose of a rite or the action of a given object
4)  ENHANCING - used to intensify the purpose of a rite or the action of a given object
5)  PROTECTIVE - used to shield the user or area from harm
6)  BANISHING - used to drive out unwanted influences or spirits
7)  HEALING - used to promote wholeness in mind, body or spirit
8)  SPELL CASTING - used to promote a purpose, e.g., love, fertility, money, luck, fortune, concentration, etc.

Many botanicals fall into several categories, for example: Wormword (Artemesia) can be used
  1) to evoke Artemis and call the dead
  2) to promote divination
  6) when consecrated to Mars in banishing
  6) & 7) it was used to banish the Black Plague fleas
  8) when consecrated to Mars, in works of anger.

Some Examples:
1) Evocative
Almond                             Lotus
Ash                                Mandrake
Basil                              Myrrh
Bay                                Olive
Blessed Thistle                    Patchouli
Damiana                            Rowan
Dittany of Crete                   Rue
Elm                                Thyme
Frankincense                       Verbena
Henbane                            Vervain, Blue
Life Everlasting Flowers           Wormwood

2) Divinatory:
Ash                                Linseed
Bay                                Mugwort
Cinquefoil                         Rowan
Clove                              Thyme
Elm                                Wormwood
Frankincense                       Yarrow

3) Purificatory:
Angelica                           Mastic gum
Bayberry                           Myrrh
Burnet                             Olive

4) Healing
Balm of Gilead                     Myrrh
Lavendar                           Rosemary
Life Everlasting                   Wormwood

4) Enhancing:
Anise seed                         Lotus
Angelica                           Mandrake
Celery seed                        Mastic gum
Cinnamon                           Mugwort
Cinquefoil                         Orris root
Cloves                             Peppermint
Damiana                            Sandalwood
Dragon's Blood                     Styrax
Frankincense                       Uva Ursi

5) Protective:
Alfalfa                            Juniper wood
Basil                              Life Everlasting flowers
Blessed Thistle                    Mastic gum
Bay                                Mistletoe
Camphor                            Mugwort
Cinquefoil                         Orris root
Elder                              Rosemary
Five Finger Grass                  Rowan
Frankincense                       St. John's Wort
Garlic                             Vervain, Blue

6) Banishing:
Agrimony                           Lavendar
Ash                                Pine
Camphor                            Rowan
Dragon's Blood                     Vervain, Blue
Juniper wood                       Wormwood

8) Spell Casting:
Basil                              Patchouli
Bayberry                           Peppermint
Bezoin gum                         Rosemary
Camphor                            Rowan
Cinnamon                           Rue
Damiana                            Sandalwood
Dragon's Blood                     Tormantil
Frankincense                       Uva Ursi
Lavendar                           Vervain, Blue
Lemon peel                         St. John's Wort
Life Everlasting flowers           Wormwood
Mandrake                           Yarrow
Mistletoe                          Ylang Ylang
Orris Root