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Tonka Bean

(Dipteryx odorata)


Description: The tonka bean is the seed from the tonka tree that grows in Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana and Nigeria.  The dark brown to black seeds are 1" to 2" long with a shriveled skin.  The skin has a sweet, musky scent while the fibrous center has a stronger, less pleasant scent.

Use: When using the entire seed in incense blends, add small quantities of well-powdered seeds.  Overuse can result in a bitter scent.  You can also remove the skin from seeds and use it without the "meat" of the seed.  It is a more expensive and difficult proposition, but worthwhile to make the finest incense.

General Information: The tonka bean is most closely associated with Incan and Mayan practices.  The tonka bean was often combined with the blood of a high priest or king and then burned to induce visions.

The dark yet sweet scent of the skin is quite unusual.  Tonka bean skin might be a good substitute for musk in many incense blends.  Associated with visions and good luck, it is a good addition to meditation incense or working involving other planes.  Tonka beans have an oily note that might account for its musk-like properties. 

References used and recommended reading (click title for more information):

The Complete Incense Book by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi (ISBN 080699987X)

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham (ISBN 0875421229)

Incense: Crafting & Use of Magickal Scents by Carl Neal (ISBN 0738703362)

Copyright 2004 Carl Neal. Used by Mother's Hearth with permission.

All information and text on these pages is copyright Little Pagans 2004, except where otherwise stated.
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