Information about incense
Table of Contents
The history of incense
Aromatic fragrance has been part of human life since the beginning of time. Living close to nature, people naturally also used its products to help their physical and mental well-being. It is known that plants were used in medicine around 20,000 years ago. Instead, the spiritual and ritual significance of plants can be traced back as far as a hundred thousand years.
The use of incense was naturally given the initial impetus by the invention of fire. Fire created warmth and protection from beasts, and with it, it was also invented to burn fragrant plants. Through organic culture, the use of incense was transferred to shamans, who in addition to treating with herbs, constantly recorded information about the properties of different herbs. Due to the valuable position of shamans, aromatic plants also gradually began to be considered gifts from the gods.
This is how incense also moved into the religious world. The smoke of incense was seen as a force that carried prayers up to the heavens, taking requests from people with it while purifying the mind and soul. Similarly, incense is still seen in many religions and in their rituals, e.g. in Catholicism, Buddhism, Judaism and Shintoism.
The important position of incense later extended to the regions of almost all early cultures. In the times when the nations in the East were built mainly on the trade of herbs and spices, incense also became a valuable commodity. Christians remember that the Bible tells one of the gifts brought to the baby Jesus was incense, a holy smoke that was not disgraced next to gold. The use of incense became established in most cultures as part of valuable party expenses.
Incenses in different cultures
As the spice trade expanded, incense also slowly moved around the East: first from Egypt to Greece, from Greece to Rome and, with the great empires, still around the world. In ancient Greece, incense gained not only a religious status but also a foothold in the field of medicine. For example, Hippocrates praised the power of incense as a healing agent. In Rome, incense was used to perfume oneself.
In India, incense gained a very special status because they were considered to increase a person's divinity, Sattva, and maintain the harmony of this soul. Incense became an important part of the temples' activities. Hindu temples were often built of sandalwood and were known as the "house of fragrances". Also, for example Kama Sutra considers incense as one important sensual element, which essentially also belonged to the world of sexuality.
In ancient China, fragrances were considered the elixir of life and the purifying element of fire. The incense combined these two elements and thus kept the good spirits close. Through Buddhism, incense also reached Japan in the 5th century, where incense was used to heighten and control the senses. Even special schools were founded where the use of incense was reviewed on a Buddhist basis.
Buddhism has included the use of incense from the beginning for many reasons. The Japanese celebrated e.g. change of seasons with different incense and used incense to reach new spiritual levels. The Japanese also strictly divided incense into two categories: those that were burned for personal enjoyment and those that were offered to the Buddha.
Also among the indigenous peoples of North and South America, incense was used in ceremonies. The most common medicinal substances in these regions were created from herbs such as sage, while ceremonial incenses were created from tobacco and birch. The Mayans, Incas and Aztecs used incense, especially copal, which the Incas offered to their sun god as their greatest gift.
In Arabia, the passion for incense spread to every area of life. Incense were used to celebrate family events such as the birth of a child and weddings, but they were also burned during evening parties. Incense played a big role in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad's favorite incense, musk, was used in the construction of mosques, the fragrance of which was released by the heat of the sun. The fragrance of the rose later became an important part of Islamic culture when rosewater became a basic element of religious rituals.
Our own perfume tradition is also based on the rose water brought to the West by the crusaders. This tradition was dominated in Europe for a long time by Italy. The upper class supported the perfume trade by all means: fragrances were added to both gloves and shoes. Even the money used by the elite was perfumed. Incense was also sold in pharmacies because people believed that the fragrances protected against diseases. In the 18th century, the popularity of incense and perfumes moved from Italy to France, where many cities adopted the production of fine perfumes.
In the 1800s, modern medicine began to supplant the use of incense and set aside our ancient ways as a marginal and despised phenomenon. It wasn't until a hundred years later that incense returned to medicine under the name of aromatherapy. However, modern man has separated himself from the surrounding nature so that using timeless herbs does not seem to be suitable for the current rhythm of life. However, the part used for smelling is one of the oldest areas of our brain, so fragrance should have an important meaning for us, biologically speaking alone.
Even though the sense of smell no longer determines our survival, an environment full of scents is still important to humans. Scents can evoke thoughts and memories, affect emotional states and mental well-being, or help you relax.
Nowadays, our breathing air is filled with impurities and small particles, and the natural world full of scents is not always present. The gentle fragrance of incense can create a small world of fragrances and give you time to calm down as the smoke rises to the heights, just like at the beginning of our time. So nature can still live close to us, enrich our lives and inspire us through our senses.
What is incense?
Incense is usually an aromatic substance that, when burned, spreads a fragrance into the environment. Actually, incense is the substance itself, not just smoke. In the past, incense was made from both plant and animal-derived materials, nowadays all incense is plant-based. The incense ingredient can be either resin, bark, herb, spice or oil. In the manufacturing process, the ingredients are dried and ground into a powder or alternatively mixed into a paste.
In general, incense is a mixture of more than one substance, for example resin, herb and oil. Almost all parts of the plant can be used, from roots to leaves, from seeds to petals and from fruits to flowers. Consequently, there can be thousands of different types of incense and the range of aromas can be quite wide.
In order to enable the incense to burn evenly, some combustion promoter is added to the mixture during the making phase, which is usually charcoal.
Fragrance groups of incense
The fragrance groups of incense can be roughly divided into six different main groups:
Floral scents include, as the name suggests, fragrant flowers such as lavender, rose, violet, ylang-ylang and jasmine. The aromas of the floral fragrance group cover the entire range of fragrances: from a gentle subtle scent to a strong and sensual one. Floral fragrances are generally sweet and pleasant.
Fruit fragrances include e.g. aromas of citronella, apple, orange, coconut and peach. As incense, fruity fragrances are mainly energizing and uplifting.
Herbal fragrances include herbal plants, for example sage, lemongrass, chamomile and aloe vera. Herbal fragrances are fresh and have many uses.
Woody fragrances include sandalwood, cedar, pine, agarwood and eucalyptus. The fragrances of the trees are earthy and soothing. They are widely used, for example, in connection with meditation. When combined, the fragrances create a world of forest aromas.
Resin fragrances include strong and distinctively fragranted resins, or resins, which come from tree sap. These include, for example, frankincense, myrrh and dragon's blood.
Spicy fragrances, as the name suggests, include spices such as cinnamon, rosemary and cloves. The selection of spicy fragrances covers both warm and gentle fragrances as well as piquant and fresh ones. Spicy fragrances are particularly suitable for dark winter evenings.
Different forms of incense
Incense can come in many forms. The most common shapes are sticks, cones and spirals. In Japan, the incense tradition also includes the so-called fragranted balls. Incense sticks used at home are usually made of bamboo slats coated with incense powder. Stick-shaped incense can also be made without a bamboo stick, in which case it is called dhoop incense.
Cones and spirals are made of paste that is either pressed through a mold into cones or twisted into spirals. Because of this, there can also be other forms of incense. Church ritual candles are also made in the same way, where some aromatic substance is used.
Incense always needs a fireproof stand as a base. Optimal platforms have been developed for each model. From the very beginning, sticks require a simpler stand than other models; they are by far the most popular incense because of their ease. The advantages of cones and spirals are their long burning time.
Incense in different rooms
The living room is a room where every member of the family can spend time. In the living room, you can lie on the sofa, watch TV, listen to music or otherwise hang out and enjoy yourself. It is also a room to which guests are brought and which by its essence expresses the personality and lifestyle of the residents. Therefore, the living room must be comfortable and practical, but also stylish and attractive.
Incense for the living room should be chosen according to the user and the current activity. For example, children like fruity fragrances like coconut, peach or apple the most.
However, a safe choice for normal everyday use is preferably a fine floral or citrus fragrance. Violet, for example, goes well with rose. On a hot summer day, the citrus fragrance is the most recommended, as it brings freshness to the room and gives energy to those staying there.
The living room should also be used for relaxation, especially after a hard day. For example, sandalwood or jasmine are good fragrances to release stress quickly. Just a quarter of a minute of silence with incense is enough and raises energy even at the moment of severe exhaustion. In the evening, you can create an atmospheric, pleasant relaxation space in the living room with deep, warm fragrances or heavy resinous aromas.
Vanilla is perfect for a quiet, peaceful evening. An earthy fragrance, for example patchouli, is suitable for socializing. Spicy aromas such as clove or cinnamon are suitable for the joy of winter evenings. If there is a fireplace in the living room, it should be used for burning incense. If there is no fireplace, you can create a symbolic fire around the incense from burning candles.
Dining is the moment of the day when the family or circle of friends can gather to spend time together after a hard day's work. It is indeed worthwhile to devote proper time to enjoying food. Even moving to another space to eat helps to move to a new, peaceful moment of eating after cooking. It is best for the dining room to be well lit and rather minimalistic, as well as its scents: this way the attention is focused on the table itself.
Incense can be used as part of the table setting; especially the small Incense cones are beautiful placed on a cute base. However, you should only really enjoy incense after eating.
Small candles, scattered in groups of two or three like cones, are also suitable for covering with incense. Fresh flowers also go well with the setting. When dining in the garden or in the middle of nature, incense is absolutely perfect.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, so it must be warm and comfortable. The kitchen is also a place where you can socialize over cooking or a cup of coffee; it's the place where people at parties usually gather. That is why it is important that the kitchen is clean, tidy and smells good. Many incense also have antibacterial effects, so burning them will keep the kitchen fragrant pleasantly.
Pine and citronella are both excellent incense for freshening up the kitchen; both are also used as fragrances in many cleaning products. Fragrance combinations suitable for the kitchen are, for example, eucalyptus, cinnamon and pine. All fragrances can also be used individually.
When you cook, clean or plant herbs on the windowsill in the kitchen, you can burn incense at the same time and make the work feel more comfortable. For this purpose, it is recommended to use warm fragrances such as cinnamon, vanilla or clove with an invigorating orange.
It doesn't matter if the corridor is narrow, wide, long or short. It's a transition from one room to another, and that's why it's all the more important to make it cozy. In a dark corridor, you should create more light to open up the space. Few, but carefully selected items also create a lived-in feeling.
The fragrance of incense, why should you choose orange or bergamot for a dark hallway to cheer you up and lift your spirits. Homely, warm fragrances can be created with cinnamon and cloves. Myrrh, sandalwood and patchouli, on the other hand, make the hall a calm and valuable entrance area for quieter occasions.
The bedroom is a sanctuary of relaxation: it's where we get our own peace and it's also where we usually sleep eight hours a day. So in that state, we can calm our minds about the day's events and forget about our unfinished work. For this reason, the bedroom is the most welcoming place to create its own atmospheric space.
This requires e.g. moving all distractions, untidiness, unfinished projects and electronics out of the bedroom. Lemongrass, lavender and sandalwood are good incenses.
Since the bedroom is not only relaxing but also a place where we can spend time with our partners, sensual incenses are equally suitable as bedroom mood creators. Floral scents such as jasmine and rose are suitable for promoting intimate life.
In addition to incense, harmony can also serve our other senses: the importance of bedroom colors, pleasant materials and candles in calming down should not be underestimated. For colors, you should choose calm, cool colors; bright colors can disturb rest.
The bathroom is a heaven of scents: it is possible to fill it from floor to ceiling with scented candles, scented soap and everything you can use to scent yourself. However, the cleanliness of the room itself must be taken care of.
In addition to soap, incense and scented oils are also excellent for cleansing the body and mind. They also bring atmosphere to the bath. You can turn the bath into a ritual with candles and scented oils, massive bath towels, soft slippers and foaming soaps.
Good choices for incense are the relaxing scents of chamomile, gardenia or lavender. Lavender has been the most popular scent in the bathroom since the days of the Roman Empire.
A refreshing shower is accompanied by eucalyptus and pine instead, which keep the mind bright. Ylang-ylang and jasmine are exotic and sensual scents that are particularly suitable for romantic bath moments. Strong wood-based scents such as cedar, sandalwood and pine are perfect for sauna scents.
The terrace or balcony can also be made cozy with the help of incense. You can use particularly large incense sticks outside, which can be placed in flower beds or flower pots, for example. Cones are also great for outdoor spaces, as cone incenses produce more smoke than sticks.
You should also use different scents at different times of the summer. Midsummer flowering jasmine, rose and lavender are perfect for outdoor spaces; from late summer, the spicier cinnamon, patchouli and rosewood suit the mood better. You should also collect lamps, candles and lanterns outside to create light and comfort even for sitting at night.
Frankincense is downright great for repelling insects, primarily because of its scent, but at the same time, the byproducts of combustion are unappealing to insects. In particular, citrus-based scents such as lemongrass repel insects most effectively. Burning incense outdoors is "easier" compared to indoors, because there is plenty of oxygen available outside and the scent is easier to perceive.Back up
Incenses for different moods
Incenses are an effective aid for intermittent fatigue; light, uplifting scents act as an antidote to lack of energy and exhaustion. Scents and colors together are even stronger mind refreshers. The best refreshing colors are vivid greens, biting yellows, sharp turquoises and icy aquas.
Citrus fragrances are good: lemon wakes you up and gets you going right from the morning, while lime relieves stress. Scent Herbal lemongrass lifts the mood, bergamot seduces. Among the woody scents, pine and cypress help with mental fatigue, and eucalyptus refreshes the mind.
In order to relax, a person must know how to stop, "just be". The inability to relax gradually leads to both insomnia and stress. Neutral interior colors such as soft lilacs, blues and mauve help create a peaceful environment. Baths before bed also help.
Incense scents are the best relaxers. Floral scents are good: lavender is a powerful relaxer, both physically and mentally. Chamomile, on the other hand, is a good sleep aid. Other than floral scents, sage helps curb stress-related headaches and myrrh calms emotions. Sandalwood, on the other hand, eases the tension caused by uncertainty.
A good way to relax is to set aside 15 minutes, light some incense and let the soothing scents slowly take away the rush and stress.
Feeling weak is a fairly common problem, especially after a long winter, illness or work injury. Fiery reds, flaming oranges and dark pinks help restore energy after a hard season.
For scents, light, cheerful and spicy aromas and herbs are suitable. In China, ginger is very popular as an energizing scent. Basil, on the other hand, removes mental and physical fatigue, and cinnamon warms.
Incenses that lift the mood
Having fun, pleasure and feeling good are the basis of happiness. Cheerful colors and the right kind of scents also help lift me from melancholy. Sunny yellows, nuanced oranges, bright pinks and greens are profitable color choices.
Citrus scents such as orange and citronella lift the mood by cleansing. The floral scents, on the other hand, remind you of summer days. Bergamot and lavender balance. Palmarosa, lemongrass and citronella bring a sense of hope and promote spiritual healing. Food Basil, cinnamon and cloves produce herbal and spicy mood-enhancing effects.
Getting lost in storms of emotions is easy and it happens to all of us. Calming comes again from the environment. Harmonious, quiet colors and soft lighting are soothing. So do relaxing music and floral incense. Lavender is very calming and is good with myrrh, for example.
Chamomile calms the nerves, balances the mind and removes stress. Sage, on the other hand, helps with panic and anxiety. Wood cedar is great for irritation and aggression. Frankincense and cedar wood also help calm the breath and mind.
The easiest way to calm down is to take time for yourself, light incense and breathe calmly. The rose alleviates feelings of anger, jealousy, guilt and resentment.
Since ancient times, fragrance and sexuality have had a strong connection; scent has traditionally been a gift of love. In the East, love was seen as a mystical experience and sexual pleasures were compared to art. You can tune in to sex with warm pinks, deep reds and oranges, and chestnut brown tones. You should choose velvet, satin or soft cotton as materials.
Candles, soft music and many scents are well suited to a seductive atmosphere. Musky scents are the best for a seductive atmosphere. The erotic scents of jasmine and rose have been used in love drinks for a reason: they release inhibitions and produce fantasies. In addition, jasmine is known as a plant that increases sexual energy.
Among other flowers, ylang-ylang is known for its soothing and seductive scent. The exotic scent of wood sandalwood is deeply seductive and awakens the senses. Patchouli also inspires the mind, produces an erotic charge and stimulates emotions.
Everyone needs inspiration from time to time. Because scent has a direct effect on the part of the brain that controls creativity, incense has been used to stimulate the imagination throughout the ages. One of the most effective scents is frankincense, which helps to catch the emotions. In order to achieve full effectiveness, the aroma should preferably be smoked in a warm place and, if desired, combined with inspiring music.
If you want something less strong, eucalyptus is a good breath-deepening scent that helps you focus on creative work. Benzoin, similar to vanilla, works in the same way and also strengthens the power of other aromas. On the other hand, sandalwood helps to get rid of cynicism and promotes the birth of spontaneous ideas. Spicy scents also help in creative work.Back up
Incenses for different seasons
After a long winter, nature is at its freshest. The first green plants appear in nature and many scents float in the air. The incenses of the season follow the line of nature: they are clear, pure and intense. Spring is a good time for people to revive their senses.
In the spring, it's also worth cleaning away the winter dust and starting from a clean slate. The scents of lavender, sandalwood, lemongrass, ambergris and pine help in cleaning. Eucalyptus helps to stop daydreaming and focus on cleaning. Pine, cedar and cypress, on the other hand, give strength to the mind and relieve physical tension.
Because in spring people are also more ready to jump into new things, you should also prefer citrus scents: they inspire and create a good mood along with the spring sun. Basil, rosemary and other herbal scents can also help shake off lack of motivation and winter laziness.
Summer is the season of relaxation and loitering. It is a time when you can cherish the sweetness of life and enjoy the warm days. This is why summer scents are also sweet: fruity, green and floral. Summer is even more full of scents than spring; in particular, the air has the scent of the same flowers that are also popular in incense.
For example, in summer dishes it is worth using familiar plants fresh: mint, dill, parsley and chives can also be sprinkled on salads for added aroma. If you go on a trip in the summer, take incense with you: Homely scents prevent boredom even in faraway places.
Since romance also belongs to summer, there is no reason to forget sensual incense. Jasmine, rose and ylang-ylang, for example, are well suited for romantic summer moments. Citrus incenses such as citronella and lemongrass, on the other hand, are suitable for summer evenings, as their pungent scent not only refreshes, but also keeps insects away. Strong, slightly citrusy vetiver is also perfect for summer evenings.
Autumn is the time of morning mist, cooling days and harvest. Nature bursts into color, but the air is no longer full of floral scents: after the leaves fall, only big, sturdy trees remain. Autumn's scents are gentle and forest-like to suit the season. Cedar has a strong and rich aroma that creates a pleasant fresh atmosphere. Cedar also goes well with eucalyptus and jasmine.
Also patchouli and rosewood are great autumn woody scents; they are also suitable for cheering up depressing autumn days. Sandalwood, on the other hand, helps prevent painful memories or summer nostalgia from surfacing. In spite of all the sadness, the autumn evenings also have a lot of atmosphere. It is worth feeding it by burning incense and candles and drying herbs for the winter.
The bitterly cold days of winter, the clear night skies and nature's sleep show the beauty of winter. However, it takes a lot of strength to survive the six-month cold and darkness. Winter is the season of being indoors for a reason. It is a time when there is an opportunity to close the windows and spend time with family and friends. In addition to social interactions, the body also needs supportive food, lots of sleep and something to maintain mental well-being: warm, spicy and rich scents.
For winter evenings, you should try cloves and cinnamon with an orange. Clove is a good winter scent, as it is also an antiseptic and thus helps to prevent and treat winter disease epidemics. Similarly, cinnamon works to strengthen the immune system meme.
Scents that light up the mind in the darkness of winter are e.g. rosemary and sage. In addition to their caring properties, incense is also perfect for many atmospheric winter parties. Instead, sweet, spicy scents such as chocolate and vanilla are well suited for dark evenings.
Rosen, Diana (2002): Incense - Bringing incense into the home. Storey Publishing
Airey, Rahe; & Melling, Charlotte (2005): Incense and scent in the home. Aquamarine
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