It's probably an understatement when I say that Kyphi, the process of building Kyphi, waiting on Kyphi, and burning Kyphi has cracked something open (in me) and allowed me to see that the creation of objects made from things that grow from the earth (Gaia) have a spiritual face, one that vastly, and in my newly opened eyes, primarily contributes to the creation of the objects, and go far beyond the beautiful scents they impart. This is why I was inspired to write the Kyphi booklet, as a means of expressing (perhaps poorly) the importance of the spiritual parts of Kyphi making as opposed to simply concocting a materials' authentic re-creation of Kyphi. Not that that isn't important.
Some of you may be wondering why I capitalize the word 'Kyphi'. The short answer is that to me Kyphi is an entity, a being, which makes it a proper noun, thus the capitalization. The connection for me was made early on between the act of building Kyphi and the act of a goddess (Isis) re-building her king (Osiris), therefore, in my manner of thinking, creating Kyphi is a rite of resurrection.
Kyphi is a being resurrected.
I think if approached this way, all manner of art is elevated and becomes more than it's parts and pieces. All incense, then, can be made the same way, with love and joy and the maternal/paternal passion of a parent for his or her offspring.
|Bartlett Pear ~ Strange and Unusual Kyphi Ingredient #1|
I'm not entirely new to the incense scene. Back in the caveman days, I used to make some pretty terrible incense, and a few batches of not-so-terrible incense. Beginning with those pine needles and resins and sticky berries that were nothing more than play, and now I realize, strangely, that I've come back to -- full circle. I've 'formulated' sawdust and essential oil incense, loose powder incense (those were good) using herbs and resins pre-powdered, then enhancing with essential oils. I've dipped incense punks into DPG laden fragrance oils, and I still carry with me at every move a box containing about 1000 unused punks, a reminder of -- well, nothing great. It wasn't until that one evening, sitting in my studio on my favorite chair with a mortar and pestle nestled in my lap and a hunk of antique orris root in the bowl that the light went on. Like the rising sun, the light crept up until it was blazing straight into my face, and I got it. I got why the labor was required. I got why they did this so many thousands of years ago. I understood the why of the singing and the prayers. It's hard work hand grinding all those materials, and the singing and prayers perhaps made the work seem easier, creating a cadence, a connection between the workers and the Priests, which in turn built energy -- vibrational energy -- that was then infused into the Kyphi, blessing it with spiritual power.
|Pineapple Guava ~ Strange and Unusual Kyphi Ingredient #2|
Now that I've convinced myself that creating Kyphi is more a spiritual endeavor than -- well, whatever I used to think it was, I've been brazenly seeking new things to include into Kyphi. Lavender Kyphi and Pink Lotus Kyphi, my creations, are definitely not authentic Kyphis. In fact, some might argue they aren't Kyphi at all. And Syriac-Kupar, well, I kind of stole that from my research and use it to describe incense made like Kyphi but isn't Kyphi. My definition of Kyphi is an incense made over time with reverence using fruit paste, wine or spirits, honey, resins, and herbs. My definition of Syriac-Kupar is Kyphi without the fruit paste, fewer herbs, and mostly consisting of resins and honey. I'm not trying to redefine anything here, calling these creations what I call them is simply a way of organizing them in my mind. I'd be perfectly happy calling all of them 'incense', except that I like talking about Kyphi to pretty much anyone who will listen, and saying, "I make incense," is kind of a conversation stopper for most folks. They instantly think hippy things. However, when I say, "I make Kyphi," it invites questions and the hippy thing goes out the door.
|Dried Pineapple Guava ~ For all Incense!|
I'm embarking on a journey here, bending the rules and pissing off purists (ha!). Some of my future experiments include Kyphi incense sticks, Kyphi with strange and unusual ingredients, and various numbers of non-Kyphi incense explorations with an emphasis on reverence.