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Here, I will admit to being a bad witch– I don’t use incense very often. For an outdoor ritual, sure. To toss into a bonfire, sure. In my home, though? Not that much. I love the look, the smell, and what it can accomplish. My S.O. and I both have allergies, and, even when well-ventilated, incense is not always the greatest thing for them.
That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy making incense, though. I reviewed a pretty good book on the use of incense in ritual awhile ago, and I can definitely recognize its value. It’s just that, for the most part, I take the same ideas associated with incense and apply them to other things. Stuff like:
- Room sprays.
- “Incense paper,” using filter paper and herb or resin tinctures.
- Diffused oils.
Now, depending on the place incense occupies in your practice, it should be noted that these aren’t really equivalent. While you might get the same feel, mindset, and herb energy going, incense represents the air element and I’ve always gotten the sense that sprays, tinctures, and oils were very water. So, if you try any of this stuff and it doesn’t quite work for you, maybe try adding something else to your ritual to represent the air element and balance everything out.
That said, I do have a room spray I’ve been amassing ingredients for. I’m not quite ready to put it together right this minute, but I’ll tell you a little about it. It’s pretty much a clearing spray, one for regular use or before a ritual. While some of the herbs I’m including have a history of use for such things, others are ones I’ve “listened to” often enough to discover that I can use them for that purpose. While my method for developing personal associations with herbs may differ a bit from the way Neal explains it in the book linked above, it works for me.
So, what’m I including in this spray? These guys:
- Clary sage. I love clary sage. It’s one of my favorite scents to wear on my skin, and has such a fresh, clean scent to it. Even the name evokes cleansing and clarity to me. Most other sources, however, consider this a protective, love-drawing, or dream herb.
- Lavender. The name is strongly associated with the Latin word “lavare,” meaning “to wash.”
- Lemon zest. Lemons are great for cleansing and uncrossing, and they smell amazing with lavender.
- Bay. I don’t think there’s anything bay leaves can’t do. While a warm spice, I always detect a vaguely camphoraceous odor to the leaves that make me think of cleansing.
- Rosemary. There really isn’t anything rosemary can’t do.
- Salt. Because of course salt.
Room sprays are pretty easy. You mist an area the same way you would incense smoke, and use your hand, a feather, or a fan to waft the mist where it needs to go.
Do you use incense? If so, how do you use it? If not, what alternatives have you used?