Thursday, October 27, 2016


Look what I just found!

Tempest's actual formulation was in this box, as were all the formulations for the numbered bottles, and Khodum, and Atay, and a host of others! I am content.

The Weather

I've been so immersed in the packing and regular daily life that I've had little time to set down what those incense projects for the class will be. That's on the agenda today. I'd like to make a batch of Christmas incense cones, and another batch of woodlands incense cones. For the sticks I'm thinking something floral, maybe magnolia or -- geesh, I don't know. I haven't really thought this through! I'll have to go out to the studio/garage and dig around in the goods a bit to find out what I'd like to build in the class.

As most of my customers know, every time they order something from my Etsy shop, they receive a sample of something similar to what they've already purchased -- if they fill their cart with incense, I send them a sample of incense they didn't purchase; if they fill their cart with skincare items, a balm, butter, or serum, I send a sample of a serum they didn't purchase, etcetera. There have been a lot of incense orders in the past few months -- I mean a lot -- and I've been sending bits and pieces of incense samples to all of them, and one, in particular, has really struck a chord -- May Zahr -- who is NOT yet ready for the shop, the slow drying little bugger! I've got folks champing at the bit for that one to go up. I'm getting kind of anxious about it too, as I don't want to have it sitting about while I'm packing and moving and have it there on the last day, still a sticky puddle. I've been going out and working it every day, rolling it, folding it, exposing the wetter bits and working the dryer bits in. I'm thinking that I will have to put a fan on it for a while so it dries faster, especially since we've hit our rainy season here. Yes, it is raining in California, folks. My area is predicted to receive up to 2" of rain today. We shall see. The local meteorologists might as well be looking into a dirty crystal ball for their weather reports as their 'predictions' haven't quite been on point lately. But I do currently live in one of the varied coastal microclimates, so what goes for the town 10 minutes away is a different story where we live.

Not for long, right? Once in Fresno, the weather is easy to predict. It's a watered desert nestled between two mountain ranges, and it catches rainfall like a big cup. The storm gods like to play games over here on the coast, pushing their rainmaking machines' buttons off and on, as if they'd put their pet monkey in charge. Over in Fresno, the rain button gets pushed and the monkey takes a nap for an hour.

How sick is that? I haven't had an opportunity to work in the studio for so long that all my creative efforts are going into writing about the weather! Ha!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

An Ordinary End

I went to see Uncle Buck at the hospice the other day. It wasn't a sterile ward in a busy hospital, but a cozy little house in a quiet neighborhood on the 'good side' of town.

"It's a lovely place," Mom said, over and over again, trying to make herself feel better about being there. She was wringing her hands and kept putting them in her purse, her fingers pressed on the crackling skin of a pack of Doral's hidden inside, her touchstone.

A long table stretched across the wall in the foyer. It was covered with little angel statuettes, vases of flowers, and in the center, dominating the space was an open reception book. A woman stood next to the table. She spoke softly, "Good morning. My name is Betty. Please sign here." She handed Mom the pen first. Mom's hand shook as she scribbled her name.

"Which guest are you here to see?" Betty asked.

"Guest? You call these poor dying people guests?" I said under my breath.

"Buckshot," Mom answered. "Well, Phil. His real name is Phil."

Betty stepped out of the room for a moment, then returned. "You can go in and see him in a minute or two," she said. "They're turning him so he doesn't get sore."

When Betty walked away, Mom asked, "Did she say they turned him so he wouldn't get bored?"

"No, Mom," I answered. "Sore. So he wouldn't get sore."

"Oh," she whispered.

We sat in the living room, Mom squeezing away on the cigarette pack, me staring at one religious icon to the next. It was a zealot's home, all crosses and Jesuses and Marys and lambs. A chubby Buddha sat grinning from a window sill. Betty returned and told us he was ready. She was smiling. What, I thought, is she so damned happy about?

"This way," she waved, drawing us down the hallway. "He's unconscious, but he'll know you're there. Say whatever you need to say. He'll hear you," she finished knowingly. The hall was short, one quick turn and there lay Uncle Buck, his head to one side, his mouth open, a bid, dark, toothless "O" under his bony nose. I don't know what I was expecting. Except for the open mouth, Uncle Buck looked just like, well, Uncle Buck. He was still bald, still freckled, still skinny. None of the 'signs' of impending death were upon him.

Mom took the chair next to his head. I chose the one by his feet at the other side, near the wall. I couldn't look at him anymore. The sadness of his dying clogged my throat, and instead, I concentrated on the box of generic tissue that sat on the foot of his bed. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mom's hand, steadier now, brushing the few wispy white hairs from his forehead.

"Oh, Buck," she whispered.

I dug around in my bag, searching for the picture I had brought him. "Here," I said, holding the brittle photo across the bed.

Mom just looked at me, "You give it to him."

My voice caught and I shook my head. "No, you do it," I whispered hoarsely.

She took the picture and held it before his half-closed eyes. "Look, Buck," she smiled. "It's your Army picture."

Uncle Buck's hand moved across his chest, his mouth opened and closed like a fish's, croaking words that didn't form.

Mom laughed softly, "I'm giving it to Jeri for you, okay?"

His hand, gnarled and thin, brushed against her arm.

"Yes, Buck," she said. "I love you, too."

The man who shared Uncle Buck's room laughed out loud at something on the television, then he looked at me with a small, sad smile. I marveled at how he could laugh in a place like this. then I began to weep. Not heaving sobs of sorrow, but those imperceptible tears, the kind you don't know are there until you need to wipe your runny nose. Sneaky tears. I stood up quickly, knocking the hospital tray across the room. The man in the other bed stopped smiling.

"I have to get out of here," I said, wiping my nose with a tissue stolen from the generic box at the foot of Buck's bed. "I'll wait for you out there, Mom. Just take your time." Then, without thinking, I said, "See you later, Uncle Buck."

I stepped out of the door and leaned against the wall in the hallway. Now my hands were shaking. Uncle Buck and I were not close. As a matter of fact, I hadn't seen him in almost two years, so I knew those tricky little tears weren't just for him. They were for me. In front of me was an open door, which led into another 'guest' room. The curtains on the windows were thrown open. Green light filtered through the leaves of the tree outside, giving the room an almost mystical glow. A tiny woman lay in the only bed in the room. Her eyes were closed, and she murmured softly while her empty hands knitted the air. I stepped closer toward the door, watching her in her dying, her wrinkled brow furrowing and relaxing, her dry lips smiling, pouting, pressing together. She was involved in a conversation with her dreams.

Betty hustled down the hall and poked her head in the door past me. "Sweet thing," she said. "She's been here a week. Nicest lady you  might ever know." Betty was still smiling. "Too bad about the pain. She's really very engaging when she's not too far gone." Then she looked at me, the smile fading a bit. "Look at you," she said, pulling a tissue from her apron pocket. "You face is dripping."

Sneaky tears, for me and my children and everyone I love who will someday lie dying, hopefully with someone there to brush their hair away from their closed eyes, thin lips open in the shape of constant surprise, mumbling or dreaming or thinking nothing at all, slipping quietly into the tunnel of light.

My Uncle Buck died, having never fully regained consciousness, two days later. There was no smell of sulfur, no cries from the damned, no harps plinking or angels singing There was just a quiet, ordinary end.

From my journal/writings, circa 1998

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


I've found about seven or eight bottles of old juice from the early 2000's that are only numbered and not named, except for one, Tempest. I remember Tempest. All of these early juices were made with a very heavy hand -- this one is no different. It's heady with jasmines sambac and grandiflorum, sandalwood, patchouli, and spices -- and I think I detect a hint of mushroom. I cannot find the card catalog for this perfume as it's buried deeply in the archives (and probably still packed from the last move), and I was attempting to find it on Etsy as one of the earlier offerings to get the exact profile, but I can't find it. I was able to find a review of it, and it states the perfume is old-timey Victorian evoking, with opening notes of dried Calimyrna fig tincture and a tincture of strawberries. It is that, but it's also jasmines and patchouli and sandalwood and amber and maybe rose and mushroom and a handful of spices, probably black pepper and clove judging by the dry down. It's intoxicating! There may be enough in the bottle to decant a few 4ml ambers to put up on Etsy. The rest, the drizzle, I'm saving for my library, as I've done with all the perfumes I've created. Once I get into wherever I will live after the move, I will dig out those other bottles of juice and their respective cards from the archived catalog and put a few of those up as well. They're good. They could also handle a bit of dilution, but I won't be doing that. I'm leaving them as I sold them in those early years, fat with scent and enthusiasm.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Melancholia Sets In

I was wondering when this was going to happen. The dreaded drop in enthusiasm when the realization that this ends. This current situation, the next situation, and all of it, eventually. Oh, sometimes I wish I could take my brain out of my head and give it a good slap across the cerebrum! The drop started as I was digging into and tossing things in the HP closet. Well, if I'm going to be honest, the drop started gradually a day or so ago and has been gaining speed ever since, but the closet -- that tipped me over. I'm pouring out expired hydrosols and finding things I had forgotten about. And then that lead to thoughts of where the hell am I going to put all this stuff -- or rather, live without this stuff -- for the next six months? I do not live a Zen life at all. I'm very connected to things, I guess, even though I'd like to think I can just walk away. My heart hurts a little doing this, and I'm not giving it up at all! I'm just tucking them away for a while. Aaaaahhhhh!

I poured a cup or so of expired frankincense hydrosol from a couple of years back into my cleaning spray bottle. Even expired, the sauce was crystalline and smelled as sweet as when I made it. The rest of the older hydrosols didn't fare so well. One in particular, a grapefruit hydro, smelled like rotten oranges. Not good at all. I also found a near-full bottle of cocoa resinoid that I cannot for the life of me get out of the bottle! Who puts resinoids in narrow necked bottles anyway? They dry out over time and lose their elasticity and end up like putty. I may use the resinoid in incense someday, but I'm going to have to find a very long, skinny spoon to dig it out.

Getting all this stuff sorted out is difficult for me. I feel like I just did this. Twice. The idea is that this next move is the last. One would hope.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Go With the Flow

Ah, the miracle of a single cup of coffee and the bliss it brings! I've been struggling for a week or so with a niggling little sinus thing brought on by MOVING. It's the dust and the dusting and the swirly whorls of sparkling dust in the air, oh, and the dust bunnies hopping about under the sofa and the bed and the corners of every room, scurrying away from the dust mop. I've not slept well in a week or more, so last night I broke down and bowed at the temple of NyQuil for relief. And slept like the dead for a full eight hours straight, except for that episode at about 5AM when my pajama bottoms got twisted up and the fiasco of flipping, flopping and extrication that ensued. Then I was gone again. But as per the usual, I woke groggy and foggy and stumbled like a zombie into the kitchen to set up the percolator. Within 10 minutes of gulping down the first cuppa joe, I felt energized and ready to face the --- DUST! I have got my work cut out for me here. These are the dilemmas: the realtor and her caravans of prospective buyers are here almost daily, which means the house must be in some sort of order for them to do their walk-through; next is the packing -- it's 99% me and I haven't been feeling well, and the going's been slow, and I'm being given directives by other persons NOT doing the packing and there is resentment on my part, understandably, so I balk; next are the weekly trips to Fresno (4 hours both ways) to organize where to live temporarily, where to store our stuff, and work on getting that house, which, if it goes through, will be move-in ready some time in May; then there is the big moving sale wherein we get rid of many of our useless possessions, like redundant furnishings (we have FOUR sofas and more pots and pans than a restaurant); and last, but certainly not least, continue working on Djinn stuff to keep my business vital and alive. No biggie, right?  Oh, yes, and there's the FREE incense class/workshop on November 5th, just days away, that I have to be in Fresno to work on.

So. Yeah.

I'm going in later this morning to fuss with May Zahr, whether he likes it or not. I think he's going to be a jar incense as he's being a total slug with the drying out. He's oozy and gooey and super, duper stinky (in a good way). I burned one of his toes on the electric burner Thursday morning, and when we got back from our Fresno trip Friday night, the house smelled of him. His toe, to be precise. It was amazing! My room especially smelled like orange blossom, and what a lovely scent to come home to after a stressful week of all the sh*t that's been going on.

The house that we're maneuvering to buy isn't even built yet. We were invited by the realtors to look at the space it is to occupy once it exists, and the space was, well, a pile of dirt. If all goes well, and they don't decide to put up another two-story right behind or slightly to the east of the house, then we'll have a lovely view of the Sierra Nevada mountains from the upstairs master. We opted for a smaller house to gain more back yard. My domain. The space of retreat and food and scent.

I know, I'm changing the plan here. What about the Thurifercorum, you ask? Well, it'll happen eventually. There are options. It may end up being a mobile thing, like a wee wagon that gets hitched to a car and is pulled around to different places, or a space in a shop -- right now, it isn't something I want to invest time and energy into. I want to travel, I want to bring my goods when I travel, like an old timey snake oil salesman with a cart and a slogan. Perhaps just the cart. And no snake oil. I definitely do not want to put my stuff in shops, or sell through distributors. Been there, done that, lost the farm. This moving event has shown me that putting down roots through the Thurifercorum will probably be a huge hassle anyway -- or it could be an anchor? So what if I'd been able to get that little shop down the street and really gotten it going? I'd be moving more stuff and looking for something in Fresno, and to be perfectly honest, I don't think the Thurifercorum as a physical shop would work in Fresno. If we had planned to stay here, we'd be scrambling for housing, and housing here is scarce, as demonstrated by the constant flow of folks looking at this house, and the fact that we did briefly look for housing when we got the news we had to move, and there wasn't any, or, rather, nothing that would have worked for us.

Go with the flow, is what I say, even if the flow is full of sewage.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

OCTOBERLUV2016 15% Coupon Code Discount at TSD Etsy Apothecary

I just wanted to remind anyone bothering to read this wee blog that there is a discount coupon code at The Scented Djinn Etsy Apothecary for 15% off orders over $25. Just enter OCTOBERLUV2016 in the coupon section for your discount.

Today we ride to Fresno to talk to a realtor. It looks like we may be having a house built, something multi-gen so we can comfortably stack bodies (live ones) to share in the expenses and so I'm not rattling around in a big old house by myself when the hubs is off working in far off lands. I've been packing non-essentials, which I'm learning is pretty much everything! There's a charity box for things that are nice and cute, goo gaws and whatnots, that I would normally haul straight to Goodwill, but I'm not liking much how they run their business, so the plan is to take all of the charity stuff to one of the local thrift shops. Clothes I'll take to Goodwill, but stuff goes local.

Not making stuff and packing all of my materials away is excruciatingly emotional. I wake every day ready to get into the studio to put something together and within seconds I realize that's not going to happen. Not today. Not for a few more days. Maybe even months. Aaaahhh! I soothe myself with burning incense in my bedroom on my fancy-pants electric burner from Mermade Magickal Arts on the daily. While packing away the studio hutch, where I store all of my wee jars of Boswellia, I made a point keep them out of the boxes and they sit in their sweet painted jars for their turn on the grill. They are my constant companions, literally, as I carry Boswellia in my purse, in my overnight bag, and in my suitcase wherever I go. Boswellia is my Xanax, my little helper, my drug of choice as it calms me like no pharmaceutical ever has. I sound like a crazy person, but I'm here to tell you, Boswellia works for me. If not for Boswellia and black salt (another issue altogether), I'd be a complete mess over here!

The final incense I created before finding out I had to pack it in was May Zahr, which I fancy myself releasing on the masses in a week or so. It's still pretty gooey, and I'm thinking that's just its nature. I've been burning it on my electric burner for the past few days and I can't even begin to tell you what a gorgeous and sublime scent it is. It's complex and very un-incense-like in terms of traditional styles of incense. And it is 100% natural, which is even more amazing given its complexity. But then I say that about most incense these days, especially Kyphis and compounded resins.

The book is on hold for now, obviously, and I honestly hadn't considered really digging into the work until January, when the anxiety of the holidays and the abrupt move are over. I got some feedback from a few of you reading this blog (which I GREATLY appreciate -- both the feedback and the fact that such intelligent human beings read this thing) about other types of incense I should be writing about. This adds the burden of studying and reading more books and researching more, but, hey, that's kind of my thing. I can really dig into a subject and get to the juicy, meaty bits, but unfortunately after I devour them, the information kind of seeps out of my head. I don't forget what I've learned, per se, but I do have to be reminded of them, a trigger must be pulled before the curtain obscuring the knowledge falls and, oh, there it is! That's where I hid that stuff! It's a good thing I'm writing it all down ~ ha!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fresno Bound

It's official. Well, about 80% official -- I'm moving back to Fresno. Buying a house, too, a big'un so there's space for an office and whatever else I need. We were offered the house we're in by the owner at a price that was easy to refuse. It's far too much, though normal for the market here, on an iffy corner with tons of traffic and lots of noise at all hours -- you don't know noise until the local motorcycle gang decides to cruise through town and use your corner to rev their engines before hauling off at break neck speeds. Twenty or 30 bikes later and the windows are threatening to shake out of the frames, and the dog is hiding under the bed. Plus there's the 5AM diesel truck run that runs five days a week, and the elementary school across the street. It's just a loud corner, and it rattles my nerves something fierce! We considered buying this house because even though it's expensive (in our eyes) we qualified for it, but I just can't handle the noise. I'm ready for a peaceful house in the middle of a block or on an acre or just not on this corner! The Van Ness house in Fresno was scary to live in because of the neighborhood -- it was situated a block from a methadone clinic and was host to the city's many homeless. I can't tell you how hard it was to sleep alone in that house when any little sound would wake me, however harmless, because more than once a stray person wandered into the backyard and attempted to open the back door. Or how often I was panhandled walking out my front door by someone walking up the walkway to my front door, or how many times I discovered a drunk person passed out on my lawn, or people having sex -- yes, having sex! -- in between my house and the house next door, right under my bedroom window! And then to come here to this slow pokey little town with almost zero crime and zero craziness but with this crazy noisy corner that even now is driving me nuts!

I went through the list of pros and cons of staying or moving back to Fresno, and found that there were more pros to moving back, which kind of bothered me. I love it here! The people are great, the weather (and I've said this a million times) is awesome, the ocean is 20 minutes away. But there is work in Fresno for me, classes and workshops and growing crops and helping a friend run a sweet little store in the country. And there are my babies in Fresno. And the mountains! I've so missed the mountains. There are many more opportunities for distillation in Fresno than here because I know folks with plants that can be distilled. With my own home, I can finally put things in the dirt to grow for distillation as well. Fresno is still a poop hole; there's still rampant crime and homelessness and drug addiction and insane traffic -- it's the wild west over there! -- but at the same time, it's my hometown. I know the streets like the back of my hand, I know the landmarks and the little gems and the hideaways. I will miss Atascadero dearly. I have adored the isolation it has afforded me.

So. There.

I will begin packing tomorrow. Those things that aren't essential to the day-to-day living situation are going into boxes or being sold off. There may be a few perfume/incense/soap related items in the 'sold off' section as well, but not much. I've culled my collection a few times in the past few years and I'm not willing to let go of anything significant anymore. Oh, and I guess we have to maintain some kind of homey look to the place in the midst of packing because the realtor will be bringing prospective buyers into the house as early as this week. The thought of people wandering around my house gives me anxiety. I'm a very private person and knowing that a stranger is giving my life the once over disturbs me.

I really have my work cut out for me. I'm exhausted by the idea already!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Boswellia Sacra Infused Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

One of the summer projects at The Scented Djinn was to create an effective toner using apple cider vinegar. I began with store-bought raw organic apple cider vinegar and a handful of boswellia sacra resin and allowed it to 'ferment' for a month. The results were nice. I used it sporadically before deciding I wanted something original, something that I'd created from scratch. I had already embarked upon a path of creating my own kombucha with great success, and it was a friend who inadvertently suggested I make my own apple cider vinegar too when she mentioned that she wasn't able to drink her homemade kombucha due to health reasons, but used it often as a skin cleanser. Now there's an idea! And there is kombucha cleanser coming to the shop soon as well. Back to the cider vinegar -- I did a fair bit of research on methods for creating homemade apple cider vinegar and realized about five minutes into the research that it was going to be incredibly easy. Making good organic apple cider vinegar follows the same standards for making good anything -- cleanliness, exceptional raw materials, and patience. I started with a gallon-and-a-half of filtered spring water, and a 5-lb bag of organic gala apples, an investment of roughly $5 USD. The apples were washed in apple cider vinegar, as were the tools and container used to create the new apple cider vinegar. The apples were cut into quarters, with seeds and skin intact, dumped into the cleaned glass container, and then the water was poured over the top. Some recipes I had found suggested using a ceramic plate to hold the apples down under the water, while others suggested nothing, to simply allow the apples to float freely. I then covered the container with cheesecloth and tied it down with cotton twine, set it in a dark closet (the HP closet on a shelf), and forgot about it for a month. By then, it was absolutely vinegar, though unlike any apple cider vinegar I had ever smelled as it still had a LOT of apple scent to it, which was surprising. I then filtered the new vinegar into another clean glass container and added a few cups of boswellia sacra resin, and let that stew for another month. The results were the lovely amber bottles of infused Viniagres, which quickly sold out. I'm on the second batch -- a larger batch -- of frankincense/apple cider vinegar and the results are turning out even better than the first batch because the frankincense I'm using is better than the stuff used in the first batch. This is a fresh batch of frankincense/apple cider vinegar which will be ready in about two more weeks.

Also on this shelf is a big batch of homemade health cider, formerly known as 'fire cider', but we're not allowed to call it that anymore because of . . . well, it doesn't matter why. Just another case of people being asshats. Oh, and the health cider was made using my own homemade organic apple cider vinegar. So there's health cider, an infused apple cider vinegar, the apple cider vinegar mother, and a big batch of kombucha, as yet unflavored. All of these projects require patience, a substance most of you know I possess in short supply.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Aromatics & Books

I finished up a couple of new products in the past few days; a sweet amber creme, and a sweet amber beard and body oil. Next up, sweet amber solid parfum. The newest incense is drying nicely, though, by some estimations (mine), a little too slowly. Though with incense, especially compounded resin and Kyphi, the longer the 'fermentation', the better the result. I've given the new incense a name -- May Zahr -- and a rough estimate as to when it will be ready for the shop -- end of October. Ish.

So remember when I posted that I had begun a new incense book and I had initially wanted to create a booklet of recipes for the holidays? Remember I mentioned it had grown into something else? A monster book is on the way. And it may very well take two years to finish because a lot of hands-on research needs to go into it.

Here is a rough outline of the book as it sits today:

            Chapter 1 ~ The King of Incense ~ Kyphi
                        Types (Edfu, etc)
                        Modern Kyphi
            Chapter 2 ~ Historical Incenses
Japanese Incense
                        Chinese Incense
                        Tibetan Incense
                        Middle-Eastern Incense
                        Church Incense
                                    Greek Orthodox
                        East Indian
                                    North European
                                    The ‘Stans’
                        North American
                        South American

Chapter 3 ~ Resins & Gums
Frankincense (Ethereal)
            Dakkara (Boswellia neglecta) Ethiopia
            Hammaderoh (Boswellia elongate) Soquotra
            Hojari (Boswellia sacra) Oman
            Cricognimu (Boswellia dalzielii) Burkina Faso
            Maydi (Boswellia frereana)
            Salaai Gugul (Boswellia serrata) India
            Beyo (Boswellia carteri) Somalia
            Makker (Boswellia papyrifera) Ethiopia
            Zama’ano (Boswellia socotrana) Soqotra
            Matabut (Boswellia rivae) Ethiopia
            MORE . . .
                        Myrrh  (Ethereal)
Habek Hadi (Commiphora guidotti) Ethiopia
Opoponax (Commiphora holziana) Kenya
Omumbungu (Commiphora kraeuseliana) Namibia
Echte Myrrh (Commiphora kua) Yemen
Molmol Myrrh (Commiphora molmol) Somalia
Guggul (Commiphora mukul) India
Yemeni Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) Yemen
Omumgorwa (Commiphora tenuipetiolata) Namibia
Omumbiri (Commiphora wildii) Namibia
MORE . . .  

                        Gum Arabic
                        Gum Tragacanth
                        Pine/spruce, etc.
                        Balm of Gilead
                        Breu Claro/Breuzinho ~ brittle resin, Protium heptaphyllum, Brazil, used ceremonially and medicinally
                        Palm Resins ~
                                    Dragon’s Blood
                                    Balsam of Peru
                                    Balsam of Tolu
            Chapter 4 ~ Herbs
            Chapter 5 ~ Leaves (gum leaves, monkey ball leaves aka liquidamber (American styrax), etc.)
            Chapter 6 ~ Spices
            Chapter 7 ~ Woods
            Chapter 8 ~ Animal derived (beeswax, honey, propolis, civet, ambergris, castoreum)
            Chapter 9 ~ Binders

            Chapter 10 ~ Balancing Formulations
                        How much of what and techniques
                        Sticks – textural references
                        Cones – “ 
                        “Chips” – “ 
                        Loose powder – “ 

 It's a bit much, yeah? And that's just the beginning, I have reams of notes and research documentation, some sections already have information written in them, plus there's a Section #3, beginning with Chapter 11 which is entitled "Rites of Kyphi", and a Chapter 12, 13, and 14 all full with formulations for Kyphi, Syriac-Kupar, and other 'compounded' types of incense. I'm already feeling the typical emotions I get when beginning a new writing project -- exhileration and exhaustion. With a bit of bloodletting. And nausea. And repeatedly questioning my sanity.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Incense, and What Passes for Incense

Every so often, my nose will get me into trouble, especially with incense. What smells absolutely stunning sitting in a mason jar at a craft show or street faire smells like total sh*t when burned at home. A few months back I met a sweet man who had just begun an incense business (he said) featuring patchouli and sandalwood and pixie dust and -- well, you know, that stuff that isn't a smell at all but a feeling? Like 'ambrosia', or 'Egyptian sheets'? I used to make incense like this, so I know what I'm talking about -- you can buy 32 oz plastic bottles with super intensely scented, totally unnatural smelling, incense 'oils', which you then cut with DPG to extend your 32 oz bottle to 64 oz, and then dip punks, pre-coated bamboo sticks, until they've soaked up as much scent as they can before laying them out to dry on sheets of brown paper, or if you're really cheap, newspaper or mail flyers/coupons. I'm talking directly about myself here -- I used to be the super cheap chick who would scavenge newspapers for drying incense sticks. This was back in the early 90's, when I was trying to make money and not terribly concerned with the quality of the stuff I was putting out there. I bought boxes of blank punks, gallons of fragrance oils, some DPG, a ton of mason jars, and I went to work. Why? Knowing what I knew about this stuff, how toxic it was (to me, especially), and how much more natural scents had to offer, why would I do this? Again, for money. Desperate times, y'know, and because I was working the craft circuit and got the incense question all the damned time -- do you have Christmas Tree? Do you have Dragon's Blood? Do you have Raspberry? Do you have Pumpkin Noodle Chai Banana Fairy Piss? So, of course, I'd run out and buy a bottle of Pumpkin Noodle Chai Banana Fairy Piss, make a batch, and then sell none because apparently the only person on the planet who wanted it was that guy from two craft shows back! And, for the record, real dragon's blood smells like burning hair and rubber, and not in any way resembles Dragon's Blood incense sticks' scent, but it does look really cool burning. Anyway, back to the incense man at the street faire -- the entire time I was sniffing his incense selection, I was itching to talk to him about REAL incense, but after about a minute in his booth, I realized that anything I said would be met with hostility. He was me in the 90's, out there trying to make a buck any way possible. As a courtesy, because I'd spent so much time in his booth, and because I actually like them, I bought 10 sticks of 'Jasmine' for a buck. Yep. A buck. If that doesn't tell you something about the quality of the work, I don't know what does. Not to say that anything inexpensive means they are cheap, buuutttt, in this case, yes, cheap is just plain cheap. The incense sticks smelled really great just sitting in the car, and the one that's still in there gives off a nice, soothing, almost jasmine-like scent. Burning them, however, is a huge mistake. All I get when burning them is that weird acrid smell of flaming DPG. And I screwed up and burnt a few this morning while I was working, because I'm a freaking moron, apparently, and now I can't get that burnt smell out of my nose, or my house! When I'm done with work, I'm going upstairs to my room and throwing some of Mermade Magickal Arts' labdanum incense on the NEW incense burner I got from them. I'm going to get this stink out of my nose ~ ha!

I wish the incense man luck and success in his retirement business.

This was the first of many lessons sent to me about being true to my nature -- see? NATURE.

I don't mean to offend anyone doing the dip, it's just not for me. I would also implore you to explore other ways of making incense for the sake of balance.


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