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Use this botanical as an aromaticFrankincense

(Boswellia)

Frankincense tears      Powdered frankincense

Description:Frankincense, also called gum olibanum, is one of the oldest of all incense ingredients.  Originating in southern Arabia, it is harvested from trees that are often grown in groves whose locations are still carefully guarded local secrets.  Even after three thousand years of use, those trees are still an invaluable part of the incense world.  In its unprocessed form, frankincense resin is in pea-sized pellets called "tears".  Tears can range in color from translucent white to gold to medium brown (pic on left).  Although there are numerous grades of frankincense, even the lowest quality natural frankincense is a true treasure.

Use: Frankincense is well suited for use in cones, sticks, cylinders, coils, cutouts, powdered incense and loose incense.  In other words, you can use it in any incense you plan to make.  Its scent is sweet, although using too much can produce a very thick, heavy smoke.  Respect its power and use frankincense in small quantities.

Frankincense is easy to powder (pic on right), although we also offer it pre-powdered for your convenience.  A mortar and pestle, along with a hand sifter, are all the tools you need to incorporate natural frankincense tears in your incense.

General Information: Many times, historical references to "incense" are really references to frankincense.  Although historians still do not know how long frankincense has been in use, we know that in the 5th Century BCE it was imported to Rome for use as incense.  Perilous caravans traveled more than 1,700 miles to bring the precious resin to the waiting citizens of Europe and Asia who were willing to pay as much as gold for the fragrant gift from the Earth.

Frankincense has been carried by traders, adventurers and religious figures to virtually every corner of the Earth.  Although often carried by caravans on the "Spice Road", frankincense is rarely used in food, so it certainly isn't a culinary spice.  It has been used in virtually every Western culture and religion.  Anyone who has visited a Catholic church has smelled that familiar scent.  Frankincense is also a key part of Jewish incense traditions.  India, China and Japan all fell in love with the intoxicating scent as well and it is often incorporated into their religious, as well as secular, practices.

Frankincense is perhaps most famous in the Western world as one of the three gifts of the Magi to the baby Jesus.  The inclusion of frankincense with gold and myrrh show the high value of frankincense to the ancient world.  Frankincense certainly isn't limited to Christian or Jewish traditions.  In modern Pagan writing, frankincense is associated with the sun and masculine influences and has numerous very positive associations.  Frankincense can also be found in Buddhist incense from China and Japan.  It is often a key aromatic for religious use and is seen as a great gift from Nature and a great offering to Gods and Goddesses.

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

Frankincense and Myrrh: A Study of the Arabian Incense Trade by Nigel Groom (ISBN 0582764769)

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

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

The Development of Incense Cult in Israel by Paul Heger (ISBN 311015367X)

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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