Friday, September 09, 2016

Incense, Incense, and More Incense

After putting the final touches on the blue lotus Kyphi, and then doing the same for The Ram, I still had the energy (spiritual, emotional & physical) to begin a new compounded resin incense. I worked on it for a few hours yesterday afternoon and into the evening, grinding and sieving and grinding some more. Doing this type of work for hours straight makes me more and more appreciate the idea of a heavy duty spice grinder or hammer mill in my future. At the same time, I remind myself that it's the hand work, the physical grinding of the raw materials with a mortar and pestle, that help infuse the incense with the 'magic' if you will. A spice grinder that gets loaded and whizzes away while the incenseur sits and scratches his or her bottom doesn't do much for the building up of magic. I've already compromised on this function of the process by using the grinder I have in the most extreme cases, as with orris root, or certain gum resins that even defy the odd hammer strike, or if I'm working on compounded resin, in which case a pound or so of resin needs fine powdering. Other materials get slowly, methodically, and tediously pounded into oblivion in a clay mortar with a wooden baseball bat-like pestle. I have climbed up to my bed many nights with the dust of aromatics in my hair, resins embedded under my nails and cuticles, and an uncooperative right hand (my dominant hand) refusing to do even the most menial of tasks, such as opening my bedroom door. All this because I refuse to take the easy way out because it is my strongly held belief that what makes my work good is the attention I give it during its gestation and then its birth.

The new compounded incense resin is going to be a doozy, something completely out of my wheelhouse in terms of scent building, but I'm excited about the prospect -- I can smell this incense burning in my mind's -- nose? -- and it is fabulous! So, it's back to the grindstone.


  1. Anonymous8:39 AM

    Hi Justine,
    The incense-fest sounds fantastic, and I really wish I could smell the results from here.
    Can I suggest you treat yourself to a grinder and avoid RSI from hours of pulverising incense ingredients by hand? I have to say the thought of you ending up with an uncooperative hand after hours of repetitive work with the pestle and mortar is worrying me. The magic surely lies in what ingredients you choose and how you combine those ingredients with love and care, so some assistance in reducing those ingredients to the right consistency to begin with isn't cheating anyone.
    Look after yourself, please.

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

    1. I have my eye on a nice heavy-duty spice grinder that I will probably end up purchasing by the end of the year (a Yule gift to myself) as I too worry about the hand issue. It's more of a gripping problem as I'm finding myself asking for help to open jars, and more recently I've noticed my previously broken pinkie finger goes numb on occasion. I do all the other work, the kneading, the folding, the rolling, the cutting by hand, so I'm thinking that's going to have to be where the 'magic' comes. Thank you very much for the nudge to care for myself :)

    2. Anonymous9:21 AM

      Thank you for taking my comment so positively - I appreciate that.

      Self-gifting is something I do too:-)

      cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh



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