Day 105: Spring Equinox: Incense and Oil

Today, Roderick finishes the Ostara studies by asking us to make up some incense and oil to use at Ostara rituals, or “at any time that [we] want to bring about the energies and insights of Spring Equinox.”  His recipes are as follows:

Spring Equinox Incense

A handful of powdered sandalwood
2 teaspoons dry cinquefoil
1 teaspoon dried rose petals
Vegetable glycerin
4 drops honeysuckle essential oil
3 drops rose essential oil
2 drops jasmine essential oil

Place the sandalwood in a medium-sized bowl and stir in about 1 tablespoon of vegetable glycerin with a fork or metal whisk.  You want to create a soft, fluffy, compound.  Add a second tablespoon of glycerin if needed to obtain this consistency.  Add in the essential oils and whisk, then add the other dried herbs and mix thoroughly.  Wait at least one day for the compound to settle before you sprinkle it on hot coals.

Spring Oil

Vegetable glycerin or a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil
4 drops honeysuckle essential oil
3 drops rose essential oil
2 drops jasmine essential oil
Pinch of dried iris, rose, or dandelion

Find a one-ounce bottle.  Fill the bottle halfway with vegetable glycerin.  Add in plain water until the bottle is three-quarters full.  Alternately, fill the bottle three-quarters full with a carrier oil.  Add in the essential oils and the dry ingredients.  Close the lid, and shake the bottle.  The oil may be used immediately.

I didn’t make the oils or incenses for Yule or Imbolc because I lacked the oils or herbs at the time and did not have the resources to procure them.  I probably don’t have the resources now, but I’ve been on something of a spending binge these days.  Also, thanks to Z., I found a local store–Mrs. Thompson’s Herbs, Gifts, and Folklore–where I can pick up small amounts of most incense herbs.  Buying just what I need and avoiding the shipping costs finally means that making incense is a feasible activity for me and my grad school income.  I think I spent all of $1.50 on the sandalwood, cinquefoil, and rose petals.  A splurge of $14.99 on a Mr. Coffee coffee grinder, and I’m in business.

Ostara Incense: The first incense I’ve ever made.

What’s that?  A coffee grinder?  Well, yes.  In my first foray with loose incense, I learned that large clumps of frankincense and myrrh on a charcoal will result in thick clouds of smoke.  Clouds that permeate everything in the house and set off all the smoke detectors.  Since then, I’ve learned to crush up the incense into a fine powder and sprinkle a little on the coal in semi-frequent intervals.  That either means getting all incense ingredients powdered, or powdering them myself.  I hear a mortar and pestle is the preferred magical route–all that hands-on energy, savvy?–and I do use a mortar for crushing resins (they’ll ruin a coffee grinder), but it takes absolutely forever for leaves and sandalwood.  I wish I could do it, but I just don’t have several laborious hours to devote to grinding incense.

So I whirred a handful of sandalwood for awhile until it was close to a powder, then I added the cinquefoil and rose petals and kept whirring until it all came to a fairly homogeneous powder.  (To be honest, I probably added 2 tablespoons of cinquefoil and at least 1 tablespoon of rose.)  I upended it all into a bowl, worked in the glycerin (2 tablespoons), then the oils.  Lacking the honeysuckle, I did about 6 drops of rose and 8 of jasmine (my jasmine is cut with a carrier).  Fifteen minutes later, I had incense.  We’ll see how it burns tomorrow, I guess.

Incidentally, the coffee grinder is pretty easy to clean for the next round of incense.  Grind up some white rice–I do about 1/2 a cup in two 1/4 cup batches–and discard the flour.  It’ll take away all the residual herbs, and then you can unplug the grinder and wipe out any clinging flour with a damp towel.

I didn’t make the oil because I have no oil containers.  And besides…a whole ounce of oil is A LOT of oil.  I did play with it a bit, though, and I learned that I don’t like using vegetable glycerin for this.  It’s kind of sticky when it dries.  Ick.

EDIT:  Meh.  I’m not overly fond of it.  Smells too much like burning leaves for me.  I’d definitely keep closer to Roderick’s sandalwood/herbs split in the future.

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