The more I’ve established a social media presence, the more I’ve come into contact with other Satanic, Chaos Magick and otherwise left-hand-path (LHP) practitioners. With this comes curiosity about others’ magickal praxis. I therefore thought I’d write occasional posts about specifics of my practice, to see what others may share re: similarities/differences. The following one is on the specific topic of incense preferences for meditation and/or ritual.
Introduction: on choosing incense
As someone who’s both meditated and practiced magick for over two decades, I’ve definitely burned my fair share of incense. And having more contact now with other esoteric practitioners than in the past, I’ve become increasingly curious about what others do in the meditation and/or ritual chamber. So this is one of several shorter entries I have in mind re: what do I do, vs. what do you do?
I’ll preface what follows by noting that as a Chaos Magick influenced practitioner, I really see only two fundamental criteria for incense:
- Pick something that sets the right mood for you.
- If you’re going to use it for ritual or meditation, aim for consistency.
By consistency, I mean both something made to a consistent standard, and something one has consistent access to. This matters because of what I’ve said elsewhere re: consistent ritual is effective ritual. I therefore personally gravitate toward established brands rather than “random homemade mix you got at that one pagan festival once.” It would irritate me, that is, to be able to only get something once and then never again.
One might wonder, if incense preference is so subjective, then what more is there to talk about? Does this not, for instance, invalidate “use X incense for Y purpose” -type lists, etc.? But I actually like such lists myself, because they offer a starting point for experimentation. I therefore anticipate that sharing some of one’s own preferences may be of interest to other spiritual practitioners for such purposes. “Try it, you may like it too” being the driving idea here.
What follows are some thoughts re: setting the mood for meditation and/or ritual generally. Specifics for particular intentions / spells / entities is an interesting topic, but not one that I’ll be covering here.
Types of incense
I’ve found non-stick incense inconvenient, largely due to being too smoky for small quarters with a sensitive smoke alarm. I therefore mainly use two kinds of stick incense:
- Bamboo-core sticks, if I am doing an actual ritual or lengthy meditation. This kind is convenient via working with all common kinds of incense burners.
- Coreless “pure” incense sticks, for shorter daily meditation. These are less convenient, as they’re too fat for most common burners. I usually stick them upright in a bowl of sand.
A decisive factor in choosing between these is how long whatever I’m doing will take. It has never felt right to me to put out incense and re-use it for subsequent rituals or meditations. Therefore, the cardinal appeal of coreless incense is that it can be broken into small pieces, burning ~15 min each. This is perfect for meditation performed daily.
What incense I actually use
Incense for ritual
To be clear, this is not incense burnt as an offering to any particular entity etc. It’s incense I use in concert with lighting my candle, just to mark that a ritual is indeed underway.
I’ve used the same incense for this purpose for about fifteen years. It was recommended to me by the same friend who introduced me to regular meditation. It’s not an obscure incense with a mysterious name and an explicitly demonic aesthetic. Rather, it is a very common one: Satya Superhit. (Not an affiliate link; just goes to the “good” Satya so you can see the packaging; here’s a reddit link relevant to why “Satya” bought on Amazon is often garbage)
I mention this not to impress, but precisely because to many it will not be impressive. Point being, you do not need to drop extra $$ on some LHP boutique site to get “proper” magickal incense. I mean, if you want to, sure, do it. But you can also get incense from dollar stores, Asian grocery shops or Amazon without it being somehow “less” magickal.
I emphasize this because I hate seeing folks with limited funds held back by impressions that magick requires “fancy” things. Vs. what it actually requires is authentic engagement with your own sense of personal aesthetics, plus imagination!
In my case, I tried this stuff when I was younger, liked it, and the habit set. And again, habit’s positive impact on ritual should not be underestimated. Use something for over a decade, only in ritual, so that your brain associates it solely with that state, and I doubt it will matter much what exactly it is, is my point.
That said, Superhit has one interesting feature: it’s advertised as canceling all negative astrological influences. My long-held opinion has been that astrology doesn’t impact my rituals because I don’t believe in astrology. But those convinced otherwise might want to try this stuff and see what they think…
Incense for meditation
The coreless incense I use for daily meditation is predominantly from Nepal or Tibet. Often it’s marketed as Vajrayana Buddhist incense. I think it can be argued there’s an interesting and surprising overlap between certain Buddhist principles and certain Satanic ones. But that’s not important to me re: why this incense. As I said above, the foremost consideration is just being able to break it into meditation-sized pieces. Here’s my current favorite shop for it (not an affiliate link) – take a look especially if this isn’t something you’re previously familiar with.
I don’t have strong brand preferences for this stuff, as the pandemic interrupted my habits and supply multiple times. Rather, I’ll classify it via primary scent note vs. what I’ve found it useful for:
- Sandalwood: I find this a scent that brings sacredness to mind. What the right-hand-path might call “prayerful” vs. the left-hand-path might prefer “introspective” in mood. Good all-purpose meditation incense.
- Camphor: I regard this as the “banishing” incense. Cedar, juniper, etc. strike me similarly, but camphor most strongly. The one to use when one’s had a shitty day and needs to refocus before one can meditate effectively.
- Mugwort: Said to stimulate dreaming, and I’ve found there to be some truth to that. Great to burn if meditating immediately before sleep. Often has similar secondary ingredients to camphor-dominant incense’s, so it leans toward that “refresh” effect a bit too.
- Amber: I have a strong association of this scent with Nythra due to the nature of my relationship with that entity. More generally, though, if I’m meditating immediately before evoking any “dark” entity that I’m close to, I’d tend to reach for this. Pre-ritual meditation as distinct from just everyday meditation.
This style of incense packaged in cylinders (see website linked above) seems to average higher quality than plastic-wrapped or rectangular box kinds. But that’s just been my experience so far.
Other interesting incense?
There’s also another brand of incense, Spiritual Sky (again, not an affiliate link), that I haven’t used in ritual/meditation myself, but I could see being of possible interest/use to those with esoteric inclinations similar to mine. The following products of this brand particularly struck me as worthy of note:
- “Blue Lotus” and “Quintessence” for Egyptian aesthetics
- They have two different sandalwoods, both good: “Sandalwood” is what I would call the “daytime” version of the scent, vs. “Oriental Sandalwood” has a more nocturnal vibe
- “Whytchwood” – I don’t know if this has camphor in it (I’m not good at picking specific scents out of blends), but it’s that kind of thing. I tend to burn a lot of this when I’m not feeling well, as I feel it sort of clears the house out even absent intentional ritual usage.
- “Night Queen” – Rose + carnation. Between that and the name, I can see those who venerate Lilith perhaps having some use for this.
If anyone already uses these or tries them out in the future, I’d be interested to hear what you think.
I’ll also probably write another entry later about Dragon’s Blood incense specifically, and how the variability of it kind of drives me crazy. But I want to actually try more brands before I do. So, as I get the impression that’s a popular one among LHP practitioners, it would be great to hear any recommendations from the audience for this in particular.
Any other left-hand-path practitioners want to share thoughts re: incense more generally, though? I’m especially curious if you’ve read the same books I have that mention “petrichor” a lot whenever the topic of scent comes up…