Incense, how do you?

Hi Posse, Recently on a faceBook perfume group one of my mates, Alice, asked about incense. There were so many questions running through my mind beyond what the initial question was. Do we use it? Does anyone have favourites? Is it a luxury or necessity? Do you use it for rituals? Does a certain countries incense call you more strongly? Is it a remembered scent from childhood? Do you buy expensive stuff or the $2 shop version? Does it make a difference? As you can read, mind blown. So I thought I’d bring the questions to you Dear Posse Reader.

Incense, how do you?

As with everything I love there is a small hoard of incenses in this apartment. Two drawers of my Mum’s Queen Anne entrance table. When we were growing up it was where scissors, tape, string, duct tape, stamps, rulers, biros and all the little things that need to be kept close to hand but there’s never enough room for in the kitchen drawers. Back then it was her pride & joy. Since she died I have neglected it terribly and the wood of the top has shrunk and split. It’s also incredibly beaten up from moving, cleaning, clumsiness etc etc. Still it’s beautiful and a happy reminder of both my childhood and mum.

This is the entrance to Jin and my bedroom, where it sits and gets a smile every time I pass it. The birds were another thing of my Mums, she bought them to Feng Shui our family home and hoped these two statues would help their tumultuous marriage. I like that the cranes are separate but together and obviously doing their love rituals, it’s a nice reminder when we go into our room. The colours aren’t very real here, somehow everything went a kind of beige.


Habits & Rituals

Below you’ll see the four incenses that I’m burning currently in the apartment. I’m fairly ritualistic with it and a bit superstitious. Some of you might have read this before on other posts or comments, soz.

On Monday after cleaning the house the last thing I do before making a cuppa and enjoying the cleanliness is light a candle and two sticks of incense. When lighting the candle I say, “Burn away all negative energy.” Then when lighting the incense from the candle I say, “Capture all negative energy and turn it into positive energy.” There are a Ganesh picture and a Jesus sculpture on one of the walls. I go and thank them for our amazing lives with my incense floating over them and ask that they keep my friends and loved ones safe and prosperous. Usually I also tell them to do better on some front like war, sickness, poverty or whatever is in the news. Then I wander the house making sure the incense smoke goes over and into everything repeating, “Capture all negative energy and turn it into positive energy.”

Yes, I know, it’s a bit cray cray. Don’t care. It’s unbelievably soothing, comforting and the place really does feel like it’s lighter and happier. Also, saying Thank You and then having a bit of a vent to the gods is relieving too.

What Am I Burning Lately?

Incense, how do you?

I’m fairly certain most of you have smelled or owned Nag Champa. It’s always a reasonable price and smells so good to me. Full of memories of living in shared houses as a late teen and early adult.

The next one down in the pic is from a Korean Monastery set in the hills where we went with Jin’s parents.

The pink and green box with blossoms also came from a holiday but I have no recollection of the place. It’s a bummer because it has a particular scent that is different to all the other incenses I ever smelled.

Lastly an Indian Sandalwood incense. If memory serves (it may not) last time I was in India this came from a monastery in Shillong where the Dalai Lama was first brought from Tibet. This was before he settled in McLeodGanj. They smell good.


I wrote about Incense a few years ago too, Patty did a really interesting post on some incense fragrances based on the Notre Dame organ

LuckyScent always has an excellent Incense selection.

Surrender To Chance has an Incense Sampler that looks AMAZING!! Only five of the ten are in my collection. Now I’m suffering incense FOMO.


Do you have favourite incense? What are you using now? Incense perfumes?
Portia xx

  • AnnieA says:

    Like Tara I lean toward Japanese incense. Just before Christmas I bought some hinoki mint and some palo santo incense at a local Japanese home store.

  • cinnamon says:

    Love your rituals. Mine include yoga, candles and ribbons on door nobs. Oh, and I love getting moxa-d when I have acupuncture. Haven’t used incense for years due to mild asthma. Maybe it’s time to try it again. Incense perfumes. I miss Messe de Minuit.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Cinnamon,
      We have ribbons on all the doorknobs that come into contact with other doors. I wonder where that idea came from?
      Portia xx

  • Alityke says:

    I have never burnt incense although I find Catholic & High Anglican Church incense comforting. I think this is more that I find the buildings wondrous, rather than the religious services.
    In my collection I have a couple of older Amouage scents which have Omani silver frankincense & I have a decant of Armani Prive Bois d’Encens. That’s it! Guessing I’m not really a fan of smoke

  • Cassieflower says:

    I have some nag champa but tend to forget to use it regularly. I don’t have any rituals. I get my fix at yoga class. My instructor went a bit mad with the sage cleansing at the beginning of spring and a few of us were coughing a bit. My niece commented that it smelled a bit like Amsterdam and everyone got the giggles. I’m going to get a stick out tomorrow, I just put it in a plant pot, no mess.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Cassieflower,
      Yoga is all ritual, you don’t need extras.
      HA! about the Amsterdam analogy. Your niece sounds fun.
      Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    Your ritual sounds wonderful (as in ‘full of wonder’) and it sounds like something I would do myself. In fact, I do it with sage, after a thorough house cleaning. I’m not really much of an incense gal, as the smoke irritates my sinuses. Occasionally I’ll do a cone from ……. Clear Light! (sorry – had to remember the name of the place – it’s got THE MOST amazing cedar incense cones!

    You have much to be thankful and grateful for, Portia. Glad to know you honor that.


    • Portia says:

      Bummer about incense irritating you Musette. Sage is a perfect incense/cleanse option. My BFF Kath (who you know) uses sage and is also a candle hound. I think it’s the same reason.
      Portia xx

  • Amber says:

    I love, love, love incense and actually have a small, ornate chest that I keep all my incense materials in. In addition to stick and cone incense, I have a beautiful, electric incense burner that has an adjustable thermostat so I can burn the actual resins and other aromatics directly without cause too much smoke inside the house. I have also found that burning incense outside is great for keeping away mosquitos in the summer. When burning incense outside, I will use the charcoal pucks with various resins or stick incense that is too much for indoor use. Whatever the type, I find it soothing and beautiful to smell.

  • March says:

    Oh, what a lovely post! I use rituals as needed, but I really like your idea of a weekly practice … Monday’s cleaning day over here, perhaps I’ll try that after, it seems like the perfect finishing touch. The top drawer of MY beloved chest of memories smells very strongly of the incense I keep in there, and I also keep my stationery and handkerchiefs and bookmarks and other things in there so they’re scented. Makes me happy every time I open the drawer. I have a Santa Fe pinon incense I adore (cheap as chips here too), plus a sandalwood and an osmanthus that I first discovered years ago at the loved-and-now-gone Takashimaya in NYC.

    • Portia says:

      YAY March! We both do Monday cleaning. It’s good to start the week fresh and revitalised.
      Scented stationary! So glam.
      Portia xx

  • Dina C. says:

    I was completely incense ignorant until I started my perfume hobby in 2008. I grew up in a faith tradition that doesn’t use it, so had no experience with it in my boring, white bread world. I have that same box of Nag Champa, and I love the way it smells unburnt. I keep a box in a dresser, and another in my car. As a perfume note, looks like 8 of my bottles have “incense” in them. I like it, but haven’t deliberately sought it out yet. I like your ritual. Prayer is very healthy and healing in my opinion. I’m gonna go burn some nag champa now. Blessings on your household!

    • Portia says:

      Hey DinaC,
      That sounds so far away from my own RC upbringing. It was INCENSE all the time.
      Yes, the Nag Champa doesn’t even need to be burnt to smell beautiful.
      And blessings on yours too.
      Portia xx

  • Tara C says:

    I burn a stick of incense every morning on my altar when I do my meditation. Loads of different kinds, but I like Japanese best as it’s more subtle. Lately I’m using lavender scented.

    If I need some cleansing, I light a stick of palo santo wood and carry it through the house. Love the smell of palo santo.

    • Portia says:

      OOOH! Japanese lavender scented incense sounds beautiful. Did you ever try the Korean incense? A bit like Japanese but some of their scents are divine.
      Portia xx

      • Tara C says:

        Haven’t tried Korean, never run across it. Will have to look next time I’m back in San Diego, we have a large Vietnamese community, but I know we have lots of asian grocery stores – I’ve only been to the Japanese one though.

  • rosarita says:

    When I was little I collected tiny boxes. One was a metal incense burner that took cones, my mother bought the cones and I burned them all the time. Somewhere along the way I lost that little burner. Now I have sticks but also a curious cat so I don’t burn often. Nag Champa is great stuff. Love incense perfume too, Wazamba is a favorite.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    Haven’t burned incense since I was 20. Once in a while I will wear CdG Zagorsk or Kyoto.

    • Portia says:

      Hey Eldarwen22,
      Is that because you don’t like to or it just never happens? Are they bad young adult memories or was it a specific time & place? So many questions…
      Portia xx

  • Queen-Cupcake says:

    I like all kinds of stick incense, and burn them occasionally just because I want to. I don’t enjoy dealing with the ash so recently, I’ve been burning little chunks of resin–myrrh, frankincense, etc. in an adjustable brass burner over tea candles. I’m fond of the Japanese incense. The Morning Star is easy to find and inexpensive. I began burning that in my late teens.

  • MMKinPA says:

    As a teen, my brother used to burn incense (no idea where he got it, we lived in rural Iowa but he had lots of friends from all over the state through his music). I never got in the habit of it. I should, though, could probably use the calming effect! We do burn candles a lot but none of them have that same effect.

    • Portia says:

      Hey MMKinPA,
      Yeah, I find candles lift a mood but incense cleanses it and the rooms it smokes.
      LOVE that your brother burnt it.
      Portia xx

  • Tom says:

    Actually I don’t use it. Which is weird because when I smell it out and about I like it. Like candles. Have some, never use it. Might have to change that.