ODEUR DU TEMPLE
"INCENSING" YOUR SPACE
When the three wise man famously travelled through the desert to welcome the arrival of our saviour, Jesus Christ, they came bearing gifts "fit for a king". These were believed to be the following: Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense. The Gold was chosen for obvious reasons, the Myrrh was a symbol of the bitter fate that awaited this poor child and the Frankincense was actually chosen because, on par with the gold, it's rarity at the time made it very precious and costly.
Indeed, long before Christianity, frankincense from the Arabian peninsula was a more valuable commodity than gold or silver. Yet after the collapse of the Roman empire however, its popularity fell, never to be restored.
Incense is nearly as old as time itself, having existed (in one form or another) for as long as fire. Our ancestors would simply dry twigs and leaves and throw them on an open fire, as it was understood that the difference of the smells between various spices could be enhanced by burning them and that when our sense of smell was triggered, it positively impacted our moods and emotions.
Healing and clearing
As early civilisations believed these leaves and twigs were gifts from the Gods, they began to use them as a channel for communication with the divine. They would infuse these with their hopes and wishes, and burn them, allowing the smoke to carry them to the Gods where they could be seen and answered.
In parallel to this, native American tribes have, for thousands of years, been using a technique called smudging by which bundles of herbs or resins are burned as a way of asking the spirits of sacred plants to drive away bad forces. They often used sage, cedar, sweetgrass, or tobacco, their smoke being fanned across an energy field for clearing or blessing and to attract positive forces.
The mystical meanings ascribed to incense by the church are also quite similar to all of these. By its burning, incense symbolizes the zeal of the faithful, its sweet fragrance echoes the "odor of sanctity" believed to be exuded by saints and martyrs, and its rising smoke symbolizes the ascent of prayers to heaven.
So if the stories of our ancestors have left you believing that incense burning only has a "symbolic" meaning, some scientific research will dare us to think again.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, have found that burning Frankincense activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. It seems an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses...
They tested incensole acetate, a constituent of Frankincese, on mice and found it to lower anxiety, causing behaviours similar to antidepressants.
And while today, there has been resurgence in the use of essential oils as tools for Aromatherapy. incense is the undisputed earliest form of healing through smell, producing physical, emotional and psychological effects via stimulation of the olfactory nerves.
As we smell scents, information is sent via the nerves to the olfactory epithelium, a part of the limbic system in the brain. Responses are created as data is then transmitted to the conscious parts of the brain. The limbic system is the oldest and most primitive section of the brain, storing information about every scent ever smelled, and provides responses and reactions to various stimuli. It is considered the seat of memory, and as such is a powerful mood affecter.
In addition, our ability to learn and our capacity for sympathy are also located in the limbic system, hence the link that feelings of sympathy and antipathy often have with smells. The limbic system is also responsible for creativity, inspiration, and all non-thinking, automatic life processes such as heartbeat, hormone regulation and respiration. Scent can affect all of these powerful bodily processes.
Therefore, incense can help with the following:
- cleanse the atmosphere
- aid calm and reduce anxiety, stress, and fear
- revitalize, stimulate, and renew energy
- alleviate insomnia
- prepare the mind and body for prayer, meditation and contemplation
- accelerate healing
Clearing bad spirits:
Clearing away bad spirits is essential to building a temple, as a space can not be pure or sacred if it's occupied,inhabited or visited by entities. As we have read above, incense has always been a great way to remove these bad spirits.
But does this really work? Or is it simply a ritual?
Here's a short story that may convince you...
Shortly after finishing the decoration of my new flat, I was looking for a photographer to shoot images for some materials I was working on and a friend recommended someone she had worked with very often.
he man showed up and I instantly did not like him. n his presence, I felt tense, awkward, stressed, I just wanted the day to end. He was rushing around the flat taking some "ok" photos but mostly spreading his bad mood and being generally hard to work with.
I sat and meditated after he left and could still feel his presence, as if there had been something very dark in the room.
That night, I had a horrible nightmare.
Friends of mine had come to visit my place, and as we all stood there it all began to fall apart before our eyes. It started to mold, and water damage was spreading and parts were falling...
Pretty soon I looked down and noticed that a dirty brown water was coming in through the floor and was gradually drowning and destroying the whole place.
I woke up and jumped and ran out of the flat in panic.
I phoned one of my shaman teachers and we did some dousing which indeed pointed to the fact that the photographer did have some very dark energy and may have even been carrying an entity which would have affected the space.
I proceeded to do an intense spatial re-alignment using incense and crystals.
The interesting bit of the story is this: at the end of the photoshoot, I mentioned I wanted to do a few shots with incense. So I lit some up and he immediately started coughing and tearing up. He jumped up and opened the door, and said he "couldn't stay any longer and had to leave... "
A quick visit to any New Age shop and you'll find that there are many types of incense one can choose from, enough to overwhelm us!
While, as always, I recommend that you choose intuitively, depending on what feels right and resonates...
I do firmly recommend 3 types:
- Pure resin frankincense sticks are great for regular ambient use, or for use in the Feng Shui energy-setting described in article 3.
- Palo santo incense from Peru is very pure and is known for chasing away bad spirits.
This one is great for a quick spatial clearing. Perhaps when just walking home from work and no one has been in all day and you may just want to quickly clear the air. Also great when you just want to sit and meditate in the space.
- Prinknash Basilica incense, the absolute best incense for spatial energy alignments and clearing, this one comes in the form of charcoal capsules and loose herbs which self-burn together for over 1 hour. Use this one for your weekly spatial energy alignment in your space or when you are looking for something more thorough.
Whenever you are using incense, do remember that it is indeed a sacred helper of the Gods.
I suggest sitting with it while its burning, and visualising the divine energy of source coming in through the incense and spreading through the room as the smoke fills the air.
As your space is "invaded" by source energy , nothing else will ever stand a chance...
Left to right: Pure resin incense sticks, Palo santo, Prinknash Basilica Incense
nformation on where to purchase it will differ from country to country. So do contact me if you need help!