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(Corynanthe yohimbe)


Description: Yohimbe is a large tree that grows as high as 50 feet tall.  Native to Africa, yohimbe has long been a part of African herbal lore.  Yohimbe produces a psychoactive alkaloid called "yohimbine" (among others) that can induce visions.  Yohimbe has a strong, earthy scent that has a subtle similarity to turmeric, although far more mellow.  It is rust brown to dark brown and milled powdered often has a curled look to the 1-2cm clumps.

Use: Since yohimbine is easily absorbed through your mucus membranes, including yohimbe in incense could conceivably produce psychotropic results.  Therefore, use yohimbe with care.  The root of the yohimbe is the most commonly used part.  The root of the yohimbe tree can be powdered and added to many blends.

Yohimbe is not a great choice as a primary aromatic.  Unless you are creating yohimbe incense to draw its maximum power for love magick, use yohimbe in small proportions as an addition to a sweeter aromatic.

Yohimbe root is fibrous, which is another reason to limit its use in incense.  You can extrude incense with yohimbe, as long as you don't use too much.  It works very well in cones, but is not recommended for use in powdered incense.  Because of its fibrous texture, powders with yohimbe are very difficult to keep smooth and level.  If you wish to include yohimbe in your powdered incense, sift it through a very fine screen first to eliminate all but the smallest particles and to break up any tiny clumps.

General Information: Yohimbe is not a traditional incense ingredient.  In fact, yohimbe is rarely used in the Western countries, although its popularity is growing.  The first place I ever encountered yohimbe incense is in Wylundt's, although there certainly could be earlier works that utilize it in incense.  Traditionally, it is consumed as a drink or snorted.  However, it does work well in incense and the power of yohimbe is a perfect touch to certain blends.  This is another example of how the incense world is growing and expanding due to experimentation and research.  If incense makers limited themselves to strictly historic ingredients we could not expand our knowledge like this.

I should also note that there is zero scientific evidence that yohimbe in incense could induce hallucinations.  I merely include that as a warning to those who try to avoid all mind altering substances (that's a difficult chore for an incense user!). 

Yohimbe is very strongly associated with love and lust.  It is considered an aphrodisiac and its use before sexual contact is well documented.  Said to deepen and lengthen the experience of lovemaking, yohimbe has no other traditional associations (that I can find) aside from love, lust and desire.  Keep that in mind if used in your incense.

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

Wylundt's Book of Incense by Steven R. Smith (ISBN 0877288690)

The Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs by Richard Alan Miller (ISBN 0892814012)

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

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