Monday, May 05, 2014

Mourning Incense

The incense I created recently to help myself through the mourning process is nearly done. If you read this blog, you're aware of a lot of the crazy things that have been happening around me, things that are often difficult to get through without a little perfume therapy -- at least for me, anyway. I didn't use a traditional kyphi base of dried fruit, but I did use everything else -- the wine, the honey, the resins, a few herbs, and a pinch of jasmin sambac to help with depression. I used a lot of resins, mostly frankincense and myrrh with a bit of fresh elemi resin, and a handful of lovely white fir resin. It's really quite amazing. I soaked oak moss, sandalwood chips, and powdered orris in the dregs of a bottle of Shiraz -- the cloudy bit at the bottom of the bottle where all the dusky sediments are -- and hand mortared the frankincense, myrrh, and fir resins. The elemi resin I have from White Witch Natural Beauty Products is amazing, like sticky aromatic clay. I really had to work that into the herbs and then let it melt in the sun so it would disperse properly. When I make incense, I rarely do the same thing twice. I learn from my mistakes and create new techniques to avoid those mistakes, all the while making new mistakes from which I learn and that I remedy in the next round. This is how I learned that sweating out the water portion of wine (instead of draining it out) intensifies the scent of the herbs and the wine, and helps to meld the elements more cohesively. Since there is a much higher concentration of resins to herbs in this formulary, I decided to add the herb/elemi resin/wine mixture into the boiled honey/resins mixture toward the end of the boiling. After that I poured it all out onto parchment and allowed it to cool, then added a layer of jasmine sambac concrete, like sweet, floral, heady jam, onto the cooled resin, and then folded it in upon it self. Today I will knead the mass, and continue to do so until the incense is well blended and nearly dry. Boiling the honey and resins together reminds me so much of making toffee, to the point that some of the same hallmarks of 'done' with toffee are mirrored in the boiling honey and resins. The process is really quite amazing, and goes a very long way to alleviate the feelings of grief and sadness that have recently plagued me. My hope is that my clientele find the same relief when they burn this special incense.

The bottom line for me in creating these kyphis and kyphi-like incenses is to let the fragrant raw materials speak for themselves. I don't try too hard to manipulate them because they are so very willing to go where my vision is set. I suppose this is a testament to becoming familiar and being familiar with the materials.

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