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.
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.