The excitement of the New Year motivates many of us to craft a list of resolutions, intentions, and hopes for the subsequent months. Often, these resolutions are written down in journals, penciled in our minds, or crafted for the social media world. However, sometimes tangible rituals can help us firmly and deliberately set these intentions.
On January 6th, Victoria White Eagle hosted a free class at Moonflower Community Co-op focused on incense making from an indigenous perspective. Victoria guided the roughly twenty participants through the process of creating a personalized incense ball infused with herbs, positive energy, and affirmations of joy, love, and gratitude.
The incense balls were crafted from a variety of herbs, including whole cloves, basil leaves, star anise, frankincense pebbles, sandalwood powder, cinnamon, and coriander. Victoria encouraged participants to smell each component to determine whether or not they felt drawn to include it in their incense concoction. Smelling freshly ground coffee, according to Victoria, can help clarify the nose and allow incense makers to distinguish smells more effectively. The participants used their own mortars and pestles to grind and blend their selected herbs. Victoria encouraged participants to include “gifts from the sun” in the incense balls, such as seeds, honey, and beeswax. However, she emphasized the importance of “wildcrafting in spirit,” which entails a deep respect for a nature. Indigenous spirituality instructs that nothing should be taken without giving back in a karmic balance.
The binding and shaping of the incense mixture requires a few special ingredients. Benzoin resin, derived from Styrax benzoin, a tree native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, allows the different herbs to burn at similar rates and increases the durability of the incense ball. Using a burning beeswax candle, Victoria offered three drops of hot beeswax to help bind up the powders and resin in each mortar and facilitate the formation of the ball shape. Essential oils can also be added to the incense mixture to dilute the more pungent herbal aromas. If cone shapes are more desirable, maca root powder and water forms a gummy substance that will allow rolling of the mixture into a cone.
The completed incense ball or cone can be placed on a heated charcoal briquette sitting in a small, heat-safe bowl filled with sand. The burning of the incense may be done in your home or outside at the entrance of your home if the fumes are too overwhelming. During the burning process, continue to reflect on affirmations of joy, love, and gratitude. Think about where you can inject more love and gratitude in your life, and consider what brings you joy. Invite your housemates, partner, friends, and/or children to participate in this ceremony with you, and reflect on these important relationships in your life. We hope you all consider making your own incense and engaging in this ritual.
For more information on incense-making, visit Victoria White Eagle’s website at victoriawhiteeagle.com. For upcoming classes at Moonflower Co-op, visit facebook.com/moonflowercoop or see our event calendar.