Friday, July 29, 2016

Soap Making Workshop at Prather's Intermountain Nursery

Off to Fresno in an hour or so to set up for the soap class tomorrow in Prather. My only fear is that I forget a vital tool in the making of said soap, like the lye, or the molds. Other than that, I'm completely calm about the workshop, even a little excited. I'll be fine. Snoop Dogg told me so in a dream last night. Yeah. It figures that my spirit guide looks, acts, and speaks like Snoop Dogg. Every night before bed, I ask the Universe for answers to questions and the Universe answers via Mr. D-O-double G. My mind is a strange and wild place to live.

We'll be re-creating the Mystic Marigold soap at the soap class. I really like that one. Marigold has been one of my favorite scents since forever. One of my goals is to grow a row of marigolds or tagetes and harvest them for enfleurage. I think a marigold pommade would be beautiful and could be used in any number of ways, as a hair treatment, or folded into a perfume solid or a body balm or butter. Patchouli would make a nice addition to a marigold pommade.

I'm going to take extra soap making materials, including a few single soap molds, to make more soap later after the workshop, and perhaps the day after while hanging out with friends. It's soap season and I can feel it creeping up on me. I'm thinking a nice cineole-type rosemary soap with freshly harvested rosemary herb tips and then perhaps a palmarosa and patchouli with some rose geranium leaf and lemon peel. It's feeling kind of herby in the soap department, isn't it? I'm also thinking that making a straight patchouli soap might be a good idea, since, ya know, I found all those bottles of half-used and unused variations of patchouli oil.

I have an idea about ramping up production of Kyphi incense -- I'll have to run it past a few people to see if it's do-able and if so, there will be Kyphi production workshops going possibly every other weekend in September and October, as well as other types of incense training. There has also been some interest in the valley for the training of stick incense making, so that could be going into major production as well.

Blurry picture of Amber Rose Compounded Incense Resin

Slightly blurry picture of Himaya stick incense

Kyphi sticks that don't burn properly

A berry cake just to make you hungry

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mystic Marigold Soap

Lyll and I made a beautiful marigold inspired soap -- she wants to call it marry gold so it can be a wedding soap -- that is chock full of turmeric powder, to the point that it is a delicious red-orange color. We made a soap scent formulation using lots of tagetes oil, spikenard, patchouli, and atlas cedarwood. It's the soap I will be giving the soap class students as we carry on and make another identical batch for the apothecary. I'm absolutely in love with tagetes and marigold scents, always have been since I was a kid and we used marigolds as bug repellent in our vegetable gardens. To me, marigold represents slow summer days and warm breezy nights with its sunny spicy scent filling the air. Very comforting and yet another herald of the coming fall.

I had hoped to get to the valley a couple of days in advance of the soap class in Prather, but plans changed when the kids showed up for a mini-vacation. Despite the full house and chaos that comes with it, I've managed to get work going on another body incense with tuberose as the featured scent. It's still in the works and I hope to have it finished in a week or so. More soap is on the roster as well as this last batch made with Lyll turned out to be such a fun project that I'm actually looking forward to busting out the soap molds and strange scents. I got my wee pointy fingers on some lovely raw shea butter that I can't wait to use in soap and skin care for the fall and winter months. Lots of delicious skin goodies on the way. And another perfume is turning over in my mind -- something in line with Atay and Kush Bakhur -- an exotic and lush scent.

This camera doesn't pick up the bright oranges and reds that this soap displays

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Half of the studio resides in the newly prepped garage space, while the other half is strewn from one end of the 'old' studio, throughout the HP closet, and under the kitchen table. The stragglers are frustrating the heck out of me. I've been working in the new studio space and when I go looking for something, like the mesh sieve, I'm floundering until I remember, oh, yeah, it's on the table in the other studio space. I'm currently working on that Kyphi-esque incense with blue lotus resin, blue lotus flower, Indian sandalwood, and a bunch of other East Indian and Asian sourced raw materials, and I'm getting everything together for the HOLIDAYS -- yes, it's that time of year, the stocking up of raw materials and the gearing up of production. I have a couple of ideas for some really pretty incense cones for Christmas, in line with the gifts of the magi, and I'm planning to age them -- make them now and store them away until they're nice and fermented and happy to be lit and loved. I also have to make a batch of soap this week for the soap class coming up Saturday, and then more soap for the shop. I'm finding staying as busy as possible allows me the focal point to distract me from, well, just about everything going on right now.

I've always had a really great work ethic when it comes to working for others, not so much for myself, though. But I'm working on it. It seems the older I get, the more scatterbrained I become. The stresses of normal everyday life coupled with the extraordinary tragedies the family has faced lately have made a mud hole of my thoughts and abilities to organize business-wise. I shouldn't be so hard on myself as I've done a few things right these past few weeks like paid my business sales taxes on time and with zero stress, and resisted the urge to buy kilos of resins I have nowhere to store, or pretty purple jars with corks to hold the future Djinn incense, AND save money for things I really need, like a new still and a fancy pants spice grinder. I need to cut through the stuff I already have on hand, use the jars and papers and raw materials that I already possess before getting more stuff. Let me tell you, that's been difficult. I love the pretty eye-catching colorful stuff, and gorgeous smelling resins, especially if I can dig my hands in elbow deep. You know how some people imagine they'll win the lottery and throw piles of cash on the bed and then flap green dollar angels everywhere? I do that too, except the cash is replaced with piles of green hojary frankincense. That actually sounds painful. But you get the idea.

I better get back to work. The boss is giving me the stink eye.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


I've had this big bottle (32 oz?) of elemi oil in my shop refrigerator for a couple of years now and rarely ever used it. It may have gone by drizzles into soap at one point, but I honestly can't remember using it in anything else because I thought perhaps it had gone 'off'. One of the hallmarks of an 'off' or adulterated sandalwood oil (in my opinion) is an ever so slight pickly note, so I related this off mark with elemi. Except there is a problem with that assessment -- elemi essential oil DOES have a slight pickly note by nature. Most sources describe the essential oil as 'fresh, lemony, peppery, etc. . .' which is in fact in there, but it's dominated by this strange hot dill pickle smell. So I dug around some more and finally found a couple of sources that do claim that there is a pickle note to the oil. I adore elemi resin -- can't get enough of the stuff, and I think too that I was comparing the scent of the resin with the oil and came up perplexed. The resin does not smell like the oil . . . much. Lemony? Yes. Peppery? Definitely. Pickly? Not so much.

Elemi is an oil that is often used to give a little lift a formulated scent, and it has that attribute in a spiritual sense as well. The scent leans more toward a really fresh, lemony, piney boswellia serrata rather than, say, a warm, sweet Siam benzoin. I could see elemi essential oil in a lovely fresh citrus perfume formulation, or something herby, like a rosemary/lavender/cilantro accord.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Bee & Boswellia

The past two days I've been slowly moving the studio into the finished garage. Managed to get a new set of super wide shelves, and dug up a short fold out table that was buried under boxes in storage. Now all I need is a heavy duty chest of drawers and a few slabs of granite remnants -- oh, and bags and bags of resins, woods, herbs, and spices. I've got a fine array of mortars and pestles, and a couple of herb grinders. The nifty bulk spice grinder is still on the wish list. It just isn't a possibility at the moment. I will make do until I can make do no longer.
I've discovered dozens of things I had no idea I had -- like patchouli oil. I've found four bottles of patchouli oil in varying degrees of fullness in sizes ranging from 1 to 4 ounces. And plum tree resin. And a huge bag of whole vetyver root. And nearly untouched boxes of brand new bottles and jars. I'm a bit disappointed with myself. I've got all this inventory and I act like I have nothing!

For the past week or so I've been co-infusing boswellia sacra resin with bee propolis in fractionated coconut oil. All the while it's been brewing, I've been researching the properties of both raw materials and found that I've made a pretty potent medicine here. Marketing it as a medicinal is a no-no, so it has to be marketed as a balm or moisturizer when it will have healing properties which surpass simple moisturizing and em-balming. It can be used as part of a facial care regimen, in fact, it may be a really great anti-ageing cream/oil/balm -- but it can't be marketed that way either. I may not sell it at all and keep all the gooey goodness to myself. Use it on my wrinkles or on my hands when I chip woods and get blisters on my knuckles. During the daylight hours, it is gently warmed on a coffee cup warmer, and at night it gets switched off and cools down. In the morning when I come to check on it, I find the clear amber 'oil' on top has gelled slightly. The texture is interesting -- not quite an oil, definitely not a balm.

When I feel it has infused long enough, it will be strained and developed into a balm using some nice raw beeswax I procured from the same beekeeper who provided the propolis resin. I may keep some as is -- an elixir. So far I've used it on a few skin issues -- dark spots on my hands, and another spot on my shoulder, and both have begun to decrease in size and fade. I'm not saying this balm/elixir is responsible as it may just be that giving these skin issues more attention than they normally receive is responsible for the 'improvements'.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

FYI 15% Off Coupon at The Scented Djinn

I'm currently running a coupon special at The Scented Djinn Etsy shop for 15% off orders over $25 when using coupon code:


I hope you take advantage of this special soon as it expires on 31 July 2016.

Moving Two Feet

I began the move from the house to the garage late yesterday afternoon. I'm nowhere near done, but it feels so good having finally got started. I continue today in hopes of finding some long lost aromatic relics during this archaeological dig through the HP closet. Some things I've found since I began include a large funnel for easily packaging powder incense into packets. I bought a new one the day before yesterday because I had looked high and low (apparently not low enough) and couldn't find the funnel. The problem with living with people who've lived with your mess their whole lives is they think your mess, a.k.a. business is free game for scrounging around for things they 'need', like funnels and scissors and dental tools and paper and basically anything that you cannot imagine they have a use for. I've gone to my grown children's homes and found my scissors, science tweezers, even a small table fan I used while making perfume. It's sad that a portion of the business budget goes to replace stolen items that weren't officially stolen. Can't file an insurance claim on a borrowed borosilicate flask. Absconding with office supplies like pens and sticky note pads is something I can live with, absconding with pipettes and needle nose tweezers cannot be tolerated. But let's face it, I've got more junque than I can handle, so I'm sure that during this move the trash dumpsters will be filled and refilled with unnecessary stuff. I might consider taking some of the nicer things and selling them in lots. 

The excavation continues.

It's been just over a year since I busted my bum to raise the money to pay off that huge debt I had accumulated, and now I'm in that bum busting gear again. It's time to move this biz into a higher gear. Two things are on the roster, 1 buying up kilos of resins, and 2 getting a decent distillation set up. I'm still working on those kilos as locating a stateside source of resins hasn't been easy. I've spoken to several middlemen here in the states who've said, yes, they can do this or that, and then I don't hear anything else after that. I don't know if they're still working on it or if they've decided it's not worth their time for my measly 5 - 10 kg request. As for the distillation unit, well, I've found her, she's beautiful, I'm just waiting for the money ~ 

This unit is 8 gallons, as compared to the 2-liter copper still I've been using for the past 10 years. It will be used primarily for white sage, lavender, and conifers. Then when things get moving along a little better, I might buy another or get a larger still all together. I'm actually going in halfsies with a friend on this still. She's got the space to keep it and the plants to put into it. I've got the time and experience to fire it up.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Through Smoke

It seems the more I learn about incense, the less I actually know. In the tea shop yesterday, I was talking to a group of people who have no idea how incense is created, and I said, "There are thousands of types and ways of making incense," and as I said it I thought, 'well, that might be an exaggeration', and then this morning, as I was reading through a few incense groups' comments on FB, picking through the bathroom texts, and then before that, while I was asleep dreaming about incense, I realized my statement was not an exaggeration at all! My problem is sorting out the information so that I can use it effectively. I'm in a tizzy today because of dreams again, and I'm questioning my spirituality because of what I'm learning (or not learning), and my brain is a bit fractured with one part obsessing over incense and its creation, and the other part obsessing over spirituality and philosophy, and I know these go together, I just can't seem to get them to stick! I know that one will teach me about the other and I'm waiting for that lightbulb moment -- waiting . . . waiting . . . still waiting. Perhaps the study of divination through smoke is the answer. I feel like that guy floating on his roof during the flood who begs god to save him and when boat after boat after boat come to his rescue, he says, "No, I'm waiting for god to give me a sign." And then I guess the guy drowns because he didn't get on one of the boats.

I was reading some incense stuff yesterday online, descriptions of an incenseurs processes and influences while creating this masterpiece of scent they were selling, and I read a description where the incenseur said 'I didn't want to make the same old boring rose or jasmine scent like everyone else' and ended up going with some other heady floral, and it kind of deflated my confidence a bit. I have just completed making a 'boring rose' tinted amber resin incense that I am pretty happy about, and that statement kind of made me think I was missing something. Like ingenuity.

Nothing new under the sun, right?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

New Incense Resin Part Deux

It soaked in rosa damascena absolute, labdanum, and my own amber perfume formulation (all natural, of course), and now it's getting dusted with Boswellia sacra and Rosa damascena petal powders.

I'll be selling them in wee flip top jars for a lot of money. My house right now -- my house smells like a temple.

*UPDATE! I just watched this video again, and it's really boring. 

New Incense Resin

This makes three batches of incense going at once. I think I've reached my limit of concurrent projects. This last one took me by surprise. I've been rolling the idea around in my head for months, and yesterday, right after I discovered a forgotten tub of boswellia carteri, I couldn't resist the urge anymore and I began the grind. It wasn't easy since I've got the other two projects going, and I'm literally out of space, working on top of the chest freezer now because it's the only spot in the house without crap piled on top. I think I'm going to leave this the way it is, with perhaps dustings of a frankincense (sacra) and pink rose powder combination to keep it from clumping. What's in it? I didn't write it down, but here it is from memory ~

powdered frankincense (bc) as the base

labdanum essential oil

MY hand formulated 'amber' perfume oil base

pink rose petal powder (damascena)

rose damascena absolute (1/8th ounce)

powdered frankincense (sacra) as the coating

I've been kneading the incense into a ball and breaking it apart again over and over since last night. The scent is intoxicating. This is really something special, in the line of the Mourning Incense that I made a couple of years ago when my mother passed. This is more refined and the scent much more intense.

I still have the white sage to finish up -- I think it is done with its drink of gin and ready for some water and shaping into cones. The light (color) Kyphi is still stewing in its juices.

I'm beginning to feel as if stopping the work means facing the terrible shit that's been going on, both personal and worldly, so I continue the grind in the hope that doing it grinds away the pain.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Incense Compounded or . . .?

There was a bee in my bonnet. It was buzzing around up there for months now, ever since I started watching videos of monastery incense making and thinking of that compressed amber resin incense that's often fakity fake. So I did this!

I just made a free flow, off the cuff, bee-in-the-bonnet incense using almost two pounds of Boswellia carteri, some Boswellia thurifera, heaps and splashes of labdanum essential oil and a natural amber perfume base, plus coatings of pink rose bud powder. It's very wet, but as I check it throughout the day, it seems to be getting dryer and dryer, and harder too. I don't know what it is but its scent has infused my entire being. I bravely, or stupidly, pinched off a crumb and ate it. Tastes god awful -- really bitter. If I die from it, I'll let you know. Until then, carry on.

F12016-CF is Reincarnated Into MajnunLayla Parfum Extrait (Extraordinaire)

Finally! It is done. The perfume has been 'in the works' for months now is ready for bottling and wearing. I haven't talked much about MajnunLayla, formerly F1-2016-CH, for a while because it was in the ageing and tweaking stage of its formation, and since it's basically a waiting game with very little manipulation of the juice, it's been hardly worth chattering on about. I had been checking on the formulation at least once a week and making progression notes, watching how it evolved from something screechy and eye watering to what it is now -- soft, fruity (think peaches and jasmine tea and hovering violets and juicy grapes), and floral (more jasmine, a bit of rose, the warmth of lavender), and mossy (oakmoss, oakmoss, patchouli, and some more oakmoss -- oh, and a titch of sandalwood Mysore). There's also a lovely enhancing note of hand tinctured bergamot peel, a wee bit of black pepper, some frankincense, a little ambrette, cypress, and olive. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. It's wearable, complex without being muddy, and feminine. I can't wait for you to try it. So, please, try it.

On the incense front, I've finally got the white sage incense ready to wet down and mold. I've got a lot of cleaning up to do to get there -- the granite slab that I knead and roll incense dough upon is completely covered with grinders and dust and bamboo splits and bits of errant wood and hard berries. It's a freakin' mess, and a miracle I can find anything. While the white sage incense soaks in gin for a while, I'm going to move onto packaging other stuff. This is the part of the job I love that I can't stand. The running of labels, the gathering of bottles and papers, the packaging, the listing, the selling, the shipping. Just writing about it makes my eyes roll. But it's a necessary evil if I'm going to keep doing this. So onto the paper cutter I go!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Palo Santo -- You Kill Me!

I spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday shaving palo santo sticks so they could be reduced to powder in the spice grinder. I got something like 11 grams of powder from roughly two sticks, and I have the scars to prove it. Real scars. And a blister. I really need to upgrade my tools . . .

First, I don't think I've paid for palo santo in at least three years. Every single time I order resins from a supplier, I get a palo santo stick as a 'special gift'. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying it looks like a standard giveaway item. I love palo santo, but right now I'm a little bit mad at him. My fingers ache, the popped blister burns, and my thumb has a bruise -- a bruise! What I do for the love of this art surprises me sometimes.

Off to bash the stipules off of guayasa leaf.

Incense Talk

Next into the white sage incense goes pine resin, wild harvested by me and my friend, Shannon, two years ago in the Sierra Nevadas. It's Ponderosa pine resin, which smells fruity and sweet until you begin to grind it, then it smells fruity, sweet, and ever so slightly poopy. Thankfully it doesn't burn poopy, or that poopy isn't the goal or desired effect my customers seek, otherwise making incense would be as easy as taking a walk in the dog park with a baggie in my hand. The more elements that are added to this white sage incense, the less white sagey it becomes. I'm happy with the way it is evolving, and I'm wondering if a bit of gin wouldn't help it along. As we all know, everything is a little better after a bit of gin! Seriously, though, a nice, high proof alcohol splashed into a powder incense, even if it's mean to be dry (because it will eventually dry), helps to release some of the oils from the crushed herbs so they meld more completely, and any resins added to the incense will disperse more easily if slightly melted with alcohol. It's me using Kyphi making techniques for non-Kyphi incense, and the results have been phenomenal.

On the Kyphi incense I'm working on, the one with bergamot peel and blue lotus, I'm thinking of working it out a little differently in the end, leaving it 'chunky' and using a different technique to melt the honey (palm sugar) and resins into it. So, technically, it isn't a true Kyphi, more like the bastard child of Syriac-Kupar and Kyphi. I call it Klsaiovjaoejalerhlgakremfirhn. Not really. I just call it compounded incense ~ ha-ha! Anyway, this batch is going to the Orient for some reason -- it's got the bergamot, the lotus, next some true Indian sandalwood, then maybe some saffron, some benzoin or Chinese amber, lots of Indian sourced frankincense, myrrh. I'm still working out what herbs to add -- maybe a wee titch of patchouli leaf -- we'll see how it goes. This is fully orchestrated by the incense itself, so I have to give it time to figure itself out and then direct my hand.

Last week, on our trip to Fresno, I stopped into my favorite market, the Asian market on Olive and First Street. The variety and quantity of locally grown herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables is nearly limitless. I grabbed a bundle of Asian herbs that smelled strongly of lemon (not lemongrass, though they do have bundles of that too), and some Thai basil, among other things -- ooh, pickling cucumbers and a nice seedy watermelon. So I bring home this bundle of Asian herbs, the lemony one, and start drying it out because I want to use it in cooking and maybe sprinkle a bit in some future incense, but I still don't know exactly what it is. Before it became too wilty, I went online to find out what it was, and it turns out it's Lao basil! I had never heard of Lao basil. Let me just say for the record that Lao basil is beautiful -- I sprinkled some on some fresh melon and it tasted really clean and bright. Now I'm determined to return to the market next time I'm in Fresno and buy up a few bundles to dry for the eating and the incensing of it.

This is my balm, this work. This is what keeps me going from day to day. Without it, I might not still be here. Love what you do.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Dreaming

So, Alhulm, the Dreaming Incense, is being just a little bit difficult. It won't stay lit. It will burn for about 10 or 12 minutes, then it slowly stops burning. It could be that it isn't completely dry yet, but I think it might be more like the resin content is interfering with a consistent burn. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- inconvenient to those of you who torch your incense, but nothing to worry about if you use an electric incense burner or an candle lit oil diffuser to 'warm' your incense. In fact, that's my preferred method of 'burning' incense; low heat, slow 'burn' = long-lasting, beautiful, true-to-source smelling incense. Believe it or not, I don't have an electric incense heater -- it's on the wish list, but as of yet, I haven't made the investment. Too many beautiful resins and woods and herbs out there to buy and learn about to fuss with a fancy pants (much needed) electric burner.

This is how I diffuse incense, with a simple brass incense burner 'powered' by candle light.

The white sage based incense is coming along nicely. Thus far it is made with finely powdered white sage leaf with a handful of musk sage thrown in, a lovely squishy *copal resin, and some beautiful rustic pinon pine leaf a friend of mine harvested in Arizona. Already the scent is out of this world.

I think all this incense grinding is bringing on some pretty powerful dreams. I do my best to cover my nose while I'm using the mortar and pestle or the electric grinder, just to keep all the dust out of my nose and prevent another sinus blow out, so it's after the grinding when the melding occurs in the pot that I smell the working incense -- every time I walk past the grinding table to go outside or use the bathroom, I'm hit -- struck over the head, really -- by an intense cloud of scent. One day it could be lavender and frankincense, the next day white sage and pinon, another day it's myrrh, but regardless of what it is, I go to bed exhausted and dream of long-dead people, and a few newly dead, and they're all trying to tell me something, but in the end the message isn't received because I'm startled awake, or because of a strong presence within the dream, an almost malevolent presence, whose personal agenda might be disrupted by the message should I ever get it. At least that's what it feels like. And it just occurred to me that the last three nights have been particularly strange dream-wise, the exact number of days that I've been burning and diffusing Alhulm, the Dreaming Incense. Sometimes the witchery of it all amazes me.

Call me crazy, but isn't this why we who truly love scent do what we do? Because the scent, whether it be an essential oil or a filthy hunk of pine resin, transports us to another spiritual level? I think so. I think the ancients who used and adored incense those many thousands of years ago were really onto something.

So now I study spagyrics as I wish to delve deeper into the medicinal aspects of plants, beyond incense, beyond tinctures and infusions and balms, into alchemy.

If I say this journey isn't exciting and twisty and wild, I'm probably lying.

*Just a few words on 'copal' here -- the copal I'm using, the squishy stuff, is considered the least valuable of all the world's copals. Copal is a bit of a misnomer as most people hear the word and immediately think Mexico, and Central and South America, but copals come from all over the world. There's kauri copal, which is also referred to as swamp gum harvested from kauri pine (Agathis australis) that grows in New Zealand. Live kauri pine provide bush gum, which is considered a lower grade of kauri copal because it is new. According to copal experts, the hard, fossilized swamp gum is the primo deluxe stuff. There are other copals that come from other countries, like West African copals, and East African copals -- these are considered hard resins as well. There are also copals which come from the Philippines. But one thing that is consistent here is that all of these 'copals' are called copal regardless of their origin, and the word copal itself is a Mexican word. Confused? Me too. This is the work I'm determined to sort out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


I have this plan -- and as you'll learn, or have already learned, I'm full of them. Plans. Full of plans. This plan, thus far, seems to be running quite smoothly. I've convinced myself that I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to momentum. Just when I hit my stride, I let sh*t knock me off balance and instead of just getting back up and booking along again, I meander, awash in a downpour of anxiety. I toe the dirt, shake trees, smell flowers, but I don't do any real work. Nothing that gets what's in my head (those plans) to my hands, and into the world.

The plan is to do something every single day I'm home, whether it be grinding an ounce of resin, to beginning soaking fruit for Kyphi, to digging about in the wicked cabinet of bibliots to find some forgotten aromatic treasure to grind or soak or smack with a hammer, that will advance the dream of the Thurifercorum. I've set aside perfuming temporarily as this current obsession runs its course. Judging by how long a run I've had with the perfume OCD, the incense OCD could run out around, oh, never.

Kyphi in the works, and, oh, yes, that is blue lotus

Right now there are two incenses in the works, a lotus Kyphi, and a white sage incense cone mash.The lotus Kyphi is the one that might make some folks feel a little 'out there'. In a very subtle, 'hey, I feel pretty good right now' kind of way. Which, let's face it, all incense has the potential to do that sort of thing, so this one may not be fantastically more special than any other.

Today I received a package of -- two packages, really -- of schmellies. I got this really great copal resin, the sticky stuff. It's kind of sweet smelling, and reminds me a little bit of sarsparilla soda, or a really great root beer candy. Granted, that particular aspect of the scent isn't bold and up your nose, but it's there, like walking down the street from the candy store in Columbia State Park, just a whiff on the breeze. There's also a lovely, tangy-sweet lemonade note floating around in this resin. It's going into that white sage cone mash I mentioned earlier here.  The second package contained samples of both myrrh and frankincense resins, stuff I'm really starting to dig into and define. In the myrrh collection, there is Commiphora holtziana (opoponax), Commiphora kraeuseliana (omumbungu), Commiphora guidottii (habek hadi), Commiphora kua (echte myrrh), Commiphora molmol (molmol, my old friend), Commiphora mukul (guggul, another old friend), Commiphora myrrha (Yemeni myrrh, loverly), Commiphora tenuipetiolata (omumgorwa), and last, but not least, Commiphora wildii (omumbiri). Now, I haven't had the time to sniff and burn samples of these myrrhs yet, but when I do, I will probably talk about them here. A lot. I'm not going to get into what's considered a 'true' myrrh here as yet, as I don't have all the information (*she says while cracking open the 586-page Plant Resins tome), and anything I might say off-hand, and possibly (probably) incorrect, will inevitably be dragged out onto the very public social media carpet by some gooch who thinks humiliating people they are threatened by as oh, so fun and satisfying. You know who you are, you gooches. Anyway . . . the frankincense resins' sample box contains (*deep breath), ten -- count 'em! Ten species of Boswellia. There is Boswellia neglecta (dakkara), Boswellia papyrifera (makker, a fav!), Boswellia sacra (hojari), Boswellia elongata (hammaderoh), Boswellia frereana (maydi), Boswellia dalzielii (cricognimu), Boswellia carteri (beyo, ooh), Boswellia serrata (salaai gugul), Boswellia rivae (matabut), and Boswellia socotrana (zama'ano). These I haven't even opened yet, but it's wonderful to see all the different colors represented by each of these Boswellia samples. The dakkara, for example, is nearly black, while the hojary is so pale it is nearly translucent. Again, once I get into these resins, I will be writing about them. But I save that for another day.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

From Dust

This is the newest incense being processed. The final batch of incense paste for Tents of Kedar was rolled out the day before yesterday, and today will be packaged up and put on the shelf for sale. This new one is sweet, a soft, though densely scented, frankincense and lavender number, heavy on the frankincense and lavender -- real lavender! not spike, but true French and English, high altitude and organic -- the yummy stuff, and two types of frankincense -- boswellia thurifera and boswellia sacra, white 2nd grade howjary resin -- beautiful, beautiful resins. From the dust of resins and herbs comes this luscious and heavenly fragrant new incense. Oh, cones again. I'm getting really good at rolling the cones ~ ha!

I've also just begun a new Kyphi. I want to do something light and airy with it, so I began with pulverized bergamot peel soaked in high quality gin. Just that alone smells amazing. I'm planning on using palm sugar instead of honey in this batch, and more frankincense than the other, darker resins. Probably no pine, maybe a pinch of myrrh, no galbanum -- or maybe a little. I used up all of my good gooey galbanum resin in a failed incense batch, and the new stuff I received is different. For one, it's really dirty, and it's not as dark color-wise as the last batch I got, and there's an odd sweetness to it, like sugar or vanilla or even rose -- weird. It's got much less of the pungent cigarette butt smell to it than the galbanum I'm used to. This stuff also has full on twigs and sticks in it. Now that I think about it, it might be perfect for this new Kyphi as it is lighter and less 'tangy' than what I was using before. I also received a package from Thailand that contains blue lotus products -- some resin and petals, and then some other weird resins that were sent as samples. There is almost no scent at all with this resin, and I'm pretty sure it's meant to be ingested because blue lotus has a reputation for being sedative or sexually enhancing or something -- safe, won't hurt you, but might alter your impression of the world -- but what a fun item to slip into incense, right? There you are, you've just lit an incense cone from The Scented Djinn's Apothecary and Thurifercorum, you start doing the housework, and the next thing you know, you're lying prone on the floor with a vacuum cleaner wand in one hand and the world in the other, contemplating the shape of the clouds through the ceiling. Ha!

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Thurifercorum

It feels like the world is coming apart.

And, like Nero, I fiddle while it burns. Well, not fiddle exactly. Grind. I grind while it burns. Resins and herbs and woods are sacrificed to the mill, and the dust motes sparkle with luminous, heavenly scent. It's the best form of protest I can muster at the moment. Too much weighs on my heart and mind to make of me an effective warrior for peace, calm, and understanding. I can barely put two words together (in speech) to be coherent. And I'm angry, about a lot of things, and that's never good under any circumstance.

Creating incense is a respite from the vile and repulsive, the ridiculous and the horrifying. Why incense and, not, say, perfume? Or balms? Or something else? Because of the smell. Because of the constant work, the motions of grinding and forming and being immersed in the scent of boswellia sacra, Arabian myrrh, Hawai'ian sandalwood, pink rose petals, lavender buds, bergamot peel, cade, oud, and, yes, even a smidge of 'ethically harvested' civet paste. In their rawest forms, these materials are a panacea for what ails me, they reinvigorate my zest for life, fill me with spiritual awareness, love me unconditionally -- and so I love them back.

I've just begun a journey into the world of resins, namely myrrh and frankincense. I'm in the gathering stage of the process, sourcing suppliers, testing, and learning the character of these resins in more than a cursory way. I'm on the verge of stepping into the Thurifercorum completely.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

It's been a while since I have posted here. There's a reason for that. My ex-husband died in a car accident on June 26th. He was revived at the scene, went into a coma, and was placed on life support at the hospital until it became clear that he was 'gone'. He was only 52, and from the mouths of his long-time AA friends, it appeared he might finally have got his sh*t together. I have two sons with him. They had recently begun to build a better relationship, and, in fact, had told me that this past Father's Day with him was the best they'd ever shared. Given the volatile history between me and the ex, I was a bit surprised to find myself . . . very distraught. It's been an unexpectedly emotional and revelatory past few weeks. And it spurs me on, reminding me again that time is limited, and life isn't a waiting game -- it's a living game, and allowing oneself to be caught up in the mundane, the mediocre, the minutiae of the day-to-day is a waste of that time. I'm not suggesting we all live big, bold, in-yer-face lives. I'm suggesting that we live, period.


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