Tree resins have been a major part of human history and have been used in nearly every culture on Earth for thousands of years. Whether used in perfumery, as incense, medicine, or for more practical uses in crafts, construction, ancient boat building, and insect repellants, tree resins continue to share their many virtues and gifts with humanity.
One of the most widely used metaphysical plants of the world is the renowned Sandalwood tree. The use of this sacred tree in spirituality and ritual dates back thousands of years throughout India, Tibet, Nepal, other parts of Asia, and the Middle East. It grows between 20 to 30 feet and blooms with white, red, or purple flowers. A few different species are used for spiritual and medicinal purposes, some more medicinal than others.
Many people around the world have heard of or have had an experience with the wise and powerful White Sage plant. Healer, cleanser, spiritual purifier, sacred smoke; these are some of the words used to describe the powers of this strong-spirited plant. For centuries, Native Americans have understood the deeper aspects and healing qualities of White Sage and have called upon its powers during times of challenge, personal struggle, confrontation, and imbalance. Sage is considered an important and sacred part of Native American culture and is still used today in Native American medicine, in spiritual healing, and as a part of many different traditional ceremonies.
Running into an incense connoisseur or collector is a rare occasion these days. We’re out there, but we are far and few between compared to the ages before our time. It is curious to think that in many ancient cities several hundred or thousand years ago, the majority of a population would at some point in their day, encounter the alluring scent of incense or plant smoke. In ancient times incense was commonly found burning on the street corner or heavily wafting from the doors of a temple. Geishas were keeping track of their customer’s time with their ‘incense clocks’, and people would be burning incense in their homes to accompany their prayer, as an offering, during meditation, or for medicinal purposes.
Every morning all across the Earth, ordinary men and women, monks, nuns, medicine peoples, and religious and spiritual people alike all gravitate toward their sacred altars, out in the morning air, in their living rooms, village squares, or in their temples and monasteries. No matter their faith or beliefs, no matter how wealthy or poor, they all unite with the same Universal Spirit in prayer for their lives, their communities, their loved ones, and for the Earth.
Frankincense, the name echoes throughout the fragrant histories of the world as a champion of aromatics. As one of the most popular incense materials of the ages, it has long nourished many spiritual and religious traditions from ancient Egypt to Japan. In addition to its holy uses, Frankincense is also traditionally used as a medicine to treat a wide variety of imbalances and ailments in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Greek Medicine, Tibetan Medicine, and many other alternative medical practices. Continue reading Frankincense – Divine Communion
Juniper: the desert elder, the minimalistic and resilient tree of the Sun. When I think of the juniper tree, I often think of its hardened and gnarly trunk, standing strong through the harsh storms, strong winds, rain, flash floods, dust devils, and the immense heat and cold of harsh, high-desert environments. This tree’s hardiness reflects the ability that we all have within us to stand firm and strong in the face of whatever challenges life presents. Continue reading The Aromatic Smoke of Juniper: Resilience, Protection, and Hardiness
We live in very interesting times on this Mother Earth. Time has seemed to speed up, distraction is everywhere, and as a whole, modern society has all but lost its ancient connection to its spiritual nature and to the Earth. In light of this, many people are searching to reconnect with the sacred and many have adopted different spiritual paths such as yoga, meditation, First People’s ways, Eastern philosophies, Taoism, Buddhism, and countless others, searching for a deeper meaning to this life we all share here together. Continue reading The Many Benefits of Personal Sacred Ritual
Native Americans have traditionally called on the spirits of sacred plants to cleanse people and places of harmful energies, thoughts, and influences for thousands of years. This sacred act of purification, called “smudging”, is used to clear the atmosphere of negative vibrations and energies caused by anger, sadness, illness, or malevolent spirits, and to fill the environment with positive, uplifting energies. The burning of sacred plants is also traditionally used to consecrate sacred and ceremonial spaces. The smudging ritual is an important part of the ancient traditions of First Nations peoples and should always be respected and honored. Continue reading Purifying Sacred Space – Smudging
In this day and age, most people find themselves too busy to allow themselves the time to take a deep breath, let alone the time to connect to the divine or nourish their own spirit. Many people that do not already have a spiritual practice say they believe in a higher power of some sort, but they aren’t quite sure how to connect with that higher power or their higher selves. Continue reading Creating Your Own Incense Altar