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Negative ions, bad vibes and toxins; how smudging can improve your life ..

Smudging refers to the ancient practice of using the smoke of smouldering plants to physically and energetically cleanse or purify oneself or a place. It is as old as humanity itself; appearing in the rituals of indigenous cultures that cultivated close relationships with the plants around them.

Plants native to each area, (and later – exotic plant materials carried over land and sea via trade routes), were used in smudging rituals. White Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, Tobacco and Pinyon Pine resin across America; White Copal, Pine, Liquidamber resin and Palo Santo wood in Mesoamerica; Eucalyptus leaves and Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea) resin in Australia; Frankincense, Sandalwood and Patchouli in India; Benzoin, Dammar and ‘Dragon’s Blood’ (Daemonorops) resins across Indonesia; Rosemary and Thyme in the Mediterranean; Frankincense, Myrrh and Kyphi or ‘Kapet’ –  a complex recipe of resins, wine, honey and herbs – in Ancient Egypt; Frankincense, Myrrh, Sandarac and Copal across Africa; Lavender, Bedstraw, Birch bark, Thyme, Rosemary, Wormwood and Pine sap in Northern Europe; Agarwood in Japan, Cinnamon, Sandalwood and Styrax in China, Juniper and Cedar in Siberia …

From ancient times to the present, burning plant matter has multiple positive effects – some very rooted in the physical world. Plant smoke has anti-microbial properties that combat airborne pathogens and toxins, literally cleaning the air! In ancient times, smudging practices were often employed as a way of staying clean and free of disease. A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2007 (i) demonstrated that the smoke from burning Indian medicinal herbs eliminated 94% of airborne bacteria in a room after burning for one hour, and this was maintained for up to twenty-four hours by keeping the room closed. Even when tested thirty days later, a multitude of pathogenic bacteria remained absent from the open room. 

Plant smoke also combats excessive positive ions that most of us experience nowadays, especially in and around cities where higher levels of toxins abound. Air pollution, chemicals, mould, fluorescent lighting and the profusion of electromagnetic devices that surround us cause atoms and molecules to gain an extra charge – becoming positively charged. This can affect us in different ways such as: physical tension, shortness of breath, allergies, pain, inflammation and emotional disturbance: stress, anger, mood swings, anxiety and depression. The act of smudging works to create negative ions and restore a peaceful bioelectric field such as that which is experienced in the depths of a forest, next to the ocean, or after a heavy rain.

As well as fumigation and ionic properties, plant smoke impacts us on an energetic or ’subtle’ level. A smudging practice when we feel unwell, stagnant or stuck – whether through sickness or a sense of unease or stress – can be very effective. By setting up an intentional, ritual space, and inviting the smoke energy / plant allies to assist you, big shifts can occur. If seeking connection to etheric realms, perhaps to seek guidance, channel a higher vibration, or tune in to withheld memory, smudging can be very useful. At the very least, it creates the right head space to open to this kind of support. Aromas tap in to our olfactory system, which connects to the limbic system – an ancient part of the brain and the seat of emotions and memory. Have you ever found yourself instantly transported to another place and time through a particular scent? Burning plant matter can be highly effective in dealing with emotions or memories due to this connection.

Using the art of smudging in daily life can be as simple as lighting an incense stick, or as in depth as creating time and focus for a more ceremonial, ritual method.  If you’re choosing the second, a good way to begin is to prepare yourself and the space in which you will light your smudge, whether this is resin, wood or herb based. You may want to open windows and doors at the start, to allow stagnant energy to easily exit the space, or keep windows and doors closed, and open them at the end of the ritual. 

Whether you want a quick fix or a full experience, setting an intention is important to direct the energy of the process. After tidying and cleaning your space, sit in stillness for a few moments to clear your mind. If using resin incense, you might use the time it takes for the charcoal to light, to breathe deeply and centre yourself. When you feel calm, set your intention – either silently or spoken aloud – it could be as simple as ‘I invite this smudge/incense/frankincense to cleanse me/my space’ – and light your herb smudge or add a sprinkle of incense to charcoal (continue to add more resin whenever it’s needed – but remember a little goes a long way. I generally recommend using a mica plate when burning indoors as it allows for more fragrance and less smoke, although if you want big clouds of smoke and prefer not to use a plate – go for it!). 

As the incense burns, let the smoke naturally move up and around you and breathe deeply. You can use your hands to physically move the smoke over your head and body – in the same way that you would use water to wash yourself. If the smudge sits in a bowl or container on the floor, you might ‘smudge’ your feet by holding each one carefully in the plume of smoke. Some may like to use a large feather or a ‘smudging wand’ of bound feathers to direct the smoke. Eagle or owl feathers are thought to contain a particularly high frequency. If using a feather or smudging wand, use a gentle scooping and pushing motion to usher the smoke rather than fanning as you would a fire. 

Now you’ve smudged yourself, it’s time for your space! Pick up the heat-proof vessel your smudge sits in, and take it into every room – walking slowly in a clockwise direction around each room and spending some time allowing the smoke to travel into every corner. You might envision white light filling the space as you walk, or cultivate a warm feeling of love within your heart space, radiating out into each room. Once you have visited every room and corner of the house, return to where you started (or you might want to leave the house to finish the ritual outside), place the vessel down and silently or aloud, offer gratitude to the smudge, the plant allies, and anything/anyone else you may have called upon for support in the cleansing of your space. 

Now your space is cleansed, full of vibrant fresh energy, you are ready to enjoy it! The difference will be noticeable not only to yourself but to anyone who enters. You may find that blockages and difficulties around relationships, projects, ideas or emotions have shifted. You may feel a renewed sense of inspiration or positivity. The seven Resonant Aromatics incense blends are each made with a specific intention – whether to help create a feeling of peace (Sanctuary), a change in perspective (Paradigm Shift), potent dreams and healing (Kyphi), growth (Summer Solstice), love (Love Prevails), restoration (Winter Solstice) or straight up cleansing and clearing (Clearing Space). To tune in to a particular intention, you may like to choose an incense that vibrates with this motive, or even create your own sequence, burning different incense blends or plant allies as you move through your ritual. 

Have you ever experienced a remarkable shift after burning incense in an intentional manner? Or have a favourite plant ally that you use to smudge with? Please share your thoughts below .. I’d love to hear from you! 

References and further reading:

(i) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874107004357?via%3Dihub

https://upliftconnect.com/science-behind-smudging/

https://networkmagazine.ie/articles/smudging-rekindling-ancient-traditions

https://www.druidry.org/druid-way/teaching-and-practice/druid-plant-lore

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The Power of Frankincense…

“Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?” Song of Songs 3:6

Of all the resins used for incense burning, frankincense is probably the most well-known. The word ‘frankincense’ is derived from the old french “franc encens” meaning high quality incense, although older names include Olibanum (from the Greek ‘libanos’, which derives from the Hebrew ‘levona’ or ‘lavan’ meaning ‘white’) and Luban; an Urdu word from the Arabic ‘al luban’ meaning ‘the milk’ in reference to the milky colour of the sap. Recorded use in worship and medicine stretches back five thousand years to the Egyptian papyrus scripts, but it was most likely used in times of antiquity well before then. Aligned with the sun, the element of fire, and the astrological signs of Sagittarius, Libra and Aries, Frankincense has been used across cultures for millennia for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties when applied internally, topically or inhaled as smoke, as well as for its energetic healing. It was traded by the Babylonians and Assyrians, was a staple of traditional Chinese medicine since at least 500 BC, appears in ancient Indian Ayurvedic texts, is mentioned extensively in the Old Testament, was used throughout ancient Egypt in a vast range of applications, and was adopted by the Christian and Catholic church for purification and worship.

Part of the Boswellia genus, there are many types of frankincense, including Boswellia Carterii, Boswellia Sacra and Boswellia Frereana. They are part of the Burseraceae family that also includes myrrh and Palo Santo! You might recognise the similar fresh citrus/pine scent in each..

Originating from scrubby, tough trees that grow wild, straight out of the sandy soil and often straight out of the rock, in parts of Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, these hardy plants cannot be grown commercially and must be sought out in the mountainous regions of Somalia, Yemen and Oman. Harvesting frankincense resin takes around five months; harvesters travel long distances, leaving their communities behind and taking shelter in caves along the way as they gather the resin from remote locations. The sticky, milky resin oozes out of cuts in the tree (made in a practice known as ‘tapping’ – cuts or incisions carefully made by harvesters that do not cause lasting damage to the plant) and the sap dries to hard ‘tears’ in the sun. Once the frankincense tears are harvested, they are cleaned, separated, and graded. Trees are tapped twice a year but every five-six years are left untapped, so as not to disrupt the balance of sap production within the tree.

The ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus wrote of harvesters burning storax resin at the base of the trees while collecting frankincense, in order to guard against winged serpents that protect them. Although some sources believe this story was a ploy devised by harvesters to ward off their competitors!

“[The Arabians] gather frankincense by burning that storax which Phoenicians carry to Hellas; they burn this and so get the frankincense; for the spice-bearing trees are guarded by small winged snakes of varied colour, many around each tree; these are the snakes that attack Egypt. Nothing except the smoke of storax will drive them away from the trees.”

Herodotus of Halicarnassus’ (c.440 BC) III.107.2

According to ‘The Egyptian Book of the Dead’, the resin tears were viewed as “the sweat of the gods, fallen to earth.” Across cultures, all that have used this precious commodity seem to have recognised a clear connection between the resin and the divine. Frankincense was a large part of Egyptian, Greek and Roman burial rites – burned to enable the departed soul to journey on the smoke upwards to heaven, and to mask the smell of decay. The Roman emperor, Nero, burned a whole year’s harvest of frankincense (thereby completely disrupting the following years trade!) at the funeral of his favourite mistress! The ancient Egyptians also burned frankincense at sunrise to worship the sun god Ra, and they used the ash from burned frankincense to make a black paste used as eyeliner..

Although the Christian church outlawed the use of frankincense smoke as a pagan tradition, denominations such as the Catholic church later adopted it: wafting censers of smouldering resin as a way to fumigate: eliminating airborne toxins, and covering the stench of unwashed worshipers. Frankincense smoke has even been proven to improve the acoustic properties of a space – perhaps this is another reason why it was used so frequently in sacred settings; combined with chanting and music. In Oman, it is customary to smoke one’s clothes with frankincense using a frame specially made for the purpose.

Throughout antiquity frankincense was used as a remedy to treat a variety of ailments including nausea, indigestion, chest coughs, hypertension, recovery post-childbirth, ulcers and fever. Many countries across the world burned frankincense and other resins to ward off mosquitos and other insects; thereby preventing the spread of malaria and other insect-borne diseases.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem discovered that smelling burning frankincense activates the protein TRPV3, producing lower anxiety levels and anti-depressive-like behaviour. Other research is now underway into the use of the resin as a possible treatment for some cancers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and asthma among other conditions. It seems modern medicine is slowly providing evidence to back up what the ancients knew all those thousands of years ago!

 

SOURCES:

http://www.history.com/news/a-wise-mans-cure-frankincense-and-myrrh

https://www.mei.edu/sqcc/frankincense

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/08/garden/replicating-the-slightly-plantable-gifts-of-the-magi-in-the-garden.html?mcubz=1

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520110415.htm

 

Receive a FREE sample of pure frankincense resin with all purchases in October!

Head to our store to choose your purchase ..

 

 

 

 

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Egyptian Secrets …

Kyphi or ‘kapet’ are ancient Egyptian words meaning, simply – ‘incense’. Wander the streets of ancient Egypt at dusk and you would smell the sweet, balsamic fragrance of kyphi coming from homes and temples alike.

The greek historian Plutarch wrote that kyphi:

“is made of things that delight most in the night and exhibits its virtues by night.

Its aromatic substances lull to sleep, allay anxieties, and brighten dreams.”

Common practice was to burn frankincense at sunrise, myrrh during the day and kyphi at dusk. Every household would make their own kyphi from a concoction of resins, herbs, fruits and spices, while the Pharaohs employed priests whose sole job was to make the temple kyphi. One priest would blend (adding each ingredient in turn; following a particular sequence) while another recited words to bless the ingredients.

Deep, sweet, balsamic and woody, our Kyphi loose incense blend is based on ancient scripts and hieroglyphs found on temple walls. The recipe combines flame-dried raisins, Australian Sandalwood, sweet cinnamon, raw organic honey, organic red wine, golden frankincense (sourced from Queen Hatshepsut’s favourite region for frankincense), myrrh resin and nurturing benzoin and vetivert oils among other ingredients. 

We aim to create our Kyphi in the same tradition of honouring these precious ingredients and with the intention that burning this incense will aid healing, relaxation and restoration of the self and soul..

 

We are offering free shipping on our Kyphi and other resin incense blends through the month of August.. All bottles come with a free roll of incense charcoal so you can start using them straight away..

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New Moon … New Beginnings

Wishing you a happy dark moon / new moon (10.18pmtonight, Wednesday 26th April)!

A dark or new moon is an opportunity to release and let go of things we no longer need, and to begin afresh.. According to Vedic astrology, tomorrow’s new moon brings new ways to fix old problems – helping us to let go of the past and receive an encouraging push into new and uncharted territory! 

Are you feeling this energy?

Remember to make time to write in your journal today/tonight – things you want to release and your intentions for this next cycle… I find it’s a beautiful way to feel connected to nature and ourselves; to our deep intuition and magic.. Which can’t help but make for a more peaceful, grounded existence in the day to day!

 

Comment below if you’re tuning in!

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Autumn Equinox Dreaming

Wishing you a happy Autumn Equinox! Hope you are able to find a window of time to tune into this moment of planetary balance; where day and night are close to equal length (9.29pm, tonight, 20th March). I know it’s been a bumpy ride of late but the more we can tune in and find time to listen, let go and stop giving yourself a hard time! Tune in to balance, harmony, acceptance, truth.. The more we dissolve the barriers and blockages within, the more we have to give, and the more we give, the more our hearts expand!

I am making time to meditate, to listen, and to write in my amazing lunar journal by PriestessYourLife, and gear up for the next season which is a big one for me – lots of plans taking form and next month I am running my first workshop!
I can’t wait to open the door into the amazing world of real, raw fragrance and the power it holds, direct from nature, to twelve wonderful people who will join me on the 22nd April at Work-Shop, Fitzroy. I can’t wait to meet you!

In love, incense, and equinox blessings..

R

PS. Last weekend we were in the Otways at the wedding ceremony of two dear friends..  The image for this post is of an incense plate I created as an altar offering for people to use over the weekend.. It was sumptuous being out under the stars with Sunday night’s full moon and the fragrance of smouldering resins carrying our collective dreams up to the heavens.. Write in the comments if you’d like to enquire about having one at your event!

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Solar Eclipse New Moon Magic

What an intense time it has been! Two weeks ago we experienced a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Leo, tonight/tomorrow we experience a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Pisces (1.58am Sunday 27th Feb AEST, visible from South America and parts of Africa), the ‘current’ of which will carry us through the next six months to August’s Solar Eclipse.

If you’ve been feeling particularly emotional over the last two weeks (I know I have!) it is helpful to know that the Leo Full Moon and Lunar Eclipse, which occurred on the North nodes of the Moon, set us up for a very emotional phase; bringing up raw childhood feelings and things that perhaps we hadn’t yet dealt with. Now, having felt it all – we can let it go! This weekend’s Solar Eclipse, which occurs on the South nodes of the moon, in Pisces (the 12th and last astrological house), is all about finishing; releasing; allowing and letting go. As well as moving into Pisces, the Moon is conjunct with Neptune, ruler of Pisces; which adds emphasis to the ‘letting go’ – it is time to really find a selflessness and to ‘flush’ our ego – the fears, needs, desires, rationalistic, ‘black and white/right and wrong’ egoic thought patterns that constrain us.. These may be related to success, recognition, money, power or values. When we unravel the lower self, we make way for the higher.

To fully step up as creative beings, it is necessary to release old illusions and fantasies of who we are and what defines us. The sun is linked to power and identity – it prompts us to ask – do I need to surrender my old version of myself as small, weak, powerless? As a victim? Are there habits and behaviours I engage in that could be replaced by ones that serve me better?

The next six months is a pivotal time in which we are given heightened ability to recreate ourselves. Take time to do something for yourself this eclipse, if you want to release; do a little ritual, it could be something as simple as lighting a candle or some incense and writing in your journal.

Kickstarted by the Solar Eclipse magic this New Moon, we are entering a phase of infinite possibility where we find ourselves centred in love and powerfully able to evolve!

 

 

References:

http://www.alanoken.com

Solar Eclipse webinar with Kaypacha astrologer

 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this intense phase – leave a comment below!

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Leo Lunar Eclipse

Thoughts, feelings, prayers, intentions; all are amplified during a full moon and even more so this month, with a lunar eclipse and two significant celestial alignments occurring during February’s full moon in Leo (Saturday, 11 February 2017, 10:32 am AEST).

The full moon in Leo (Sun in Aquarius) urges us to boldly step into our truth, with lion-hearted courage. The Leo lunar energy encourages us to connect to the heart and open to joy and playfulness. We are encouraged to consider how we can express ourselves to a greater depth and how can we create our he/art. We might reflect on where are we at in our ability to shine our light in the world.

The lunar eclipse offers a chance to reflect on where we are focussing our energy and to what effect. This eclipse supports us to release all that may be holding us back; to let go of fears and deep-seated wounds and to rise above and beyond negative or rigid thought patterns.

This full moon is special in that the Sun, Moon, Saturn, Uranus and Jupiter align to form a pentagram as simultaneously the Sun, Moon, Uranus and Jupiter form a Golden Rectangle. The alignment is believed to offer opportunities for us to become aware of change in our lives. Let us open to allow change, promote change, choose change and be the change to create a more positive world. Self-care and nourishing the temple of the physical body and the connections and relationships that support and ground us, are imperative to help us to replenish during this period of immense change.

The formation of the pentagram also symbolises the awareness that all of creation exists within us. A notion which can always be returned to in times of turbulent motion.

‘You are not just a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop’ (Rumi)

 

Photo credit: ‘Rainbow Moon’ by Tracy Oliver

https://www.saatchiart.com/tracymarieoliver

 

References:

http://www.mysticmamma.com/the-theme-for-february-2017-is-change/

http://www.universallifetools.com/2017/02/full-moon-lunar-eclipse-energy-spiritual-february-2017/

Yoga and Meditation Ritual for the Full Moon in Leo

 

 

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Easy Cinnamon Incense Recipe

First full moon of 2017 tonight! I thought I’d kick off this year’s blog articles with my first incense tutorial. Incense is such a beautiful and fun thing to make yourself; and of course you can imbibe it with your own energies and wishes while you create it. Perhaps you’d like to invest some of your hopes and intentions for this year into yours? Making it this evening on the first full moon of the year is a potent time to tune in to the universe and to lunar magic – asking for guidance, reassurance and/or to set an intention in spin.

This recipe is super simple; requiring only two ingredients – cinnamon and water!

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), most of which is grown in Sri Lanka, is aligned with the sun and the fire element, and is thought to attract prosperity and love/sex. It is also believed to promote health, strength and libido and is recognised as a herb that invokes protection. Follow the steps below to make your own cinnamon incense cones!

 

EASY CINNAMON INCENSE RECIPE

Put your ground cinnamon powder (pre-ground or grind your own in a pestle and mortar) into a bowl or mortar.

Add water slowly, drop by drop. Mix with a spoon or pestle until it reaches ‘play dough’ consistency. You might like to envision your hopes or intentions for this full moon while you stir the mixture.

Now roll the mixture into a ball in your hand before shaping into little cones.

Leave to dry for at least 24 hours before lighting. Enjoy the sweet, soothing, woody aroma!

 

We’d love to hear from you if you tried this recipe! Leave a comment below!

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Little Rituals for the Summer Solstice…

This year’s Summer Solstice occurs at 9.44pm AEST on Wednesday 21st December 2016. That’s all well and good but what does it mean and how can we mark it?

The graceful movement of the planets, stars, Sun and Moon is continually in flux above us, and was closely monitored by ancient civilisations from the Mayans to the Pagans. Anyone observing the skies would have noticed key moments such as the new moon, full moon, movement of comets and meteorites, solar and lunar eclipses and equinoxes and solstices. An innate desire to honour, celebrate and worship these astrological alignments were the reasons so many temples and structures, unfathomable feats of human engineering, were built: Stonehenge in England, Chichen Itza in Mexico, Karnak Temple in Egypt among many others. Across the ancient world, the sun was revered as a majestic giver of life.

Ancient civilisations were very aware that humanity was part of a larger picture that included and was strongly influenced by the natural world. Accordingly, it was understood that these moments of alignment held an energetic intensity; a potency, that could be felt, tapped into and utilised to create changes in one’s external and internal world and bring about more harmony within one’s life.

Solstices occur twice a year – in winter and in summer, and are the points when the sun is either the furthest south or furthest north from the equator; thus creating the longest or shortest day (daylight hours) of the year. In the Northern hemisphere, 21st December marks the Winter Solstice, whereas in Australia, in the Southern hemisphere, we arecelebrate the Summer Solstice. Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year and is thought to mark the height of Summer; a time when crops are ripening and flowers blooming. As such, this Solstice is viewed as a life-affirming celebration of light, vitality, power, prosperity, passion, desire, creativity and strength.

The word ‘solstice’ is derived from the Latin word solstitium, from ‘sol’ meaning ‘sun’ and ‘sistere’ meaning ‘to stand still’; perhaps insinuating a marking of the solar phase by the pause of our day-to-day activities to observe not only the sun but ourselves – our internal world and our place within our community, society and greater world. The Summer Solstice offers a time to stand still for a moment, to take stock of our lives and embrace this opportunity for self-development, spiritual nourishment and growth.

There are innumerable ways we can tap into the ancient tradition of honouring the solstice. Five suggestions are described below. Comment to let us know how you plan to celebrate!

Blessings to you this Solstice!

 

References:

https://naha.org/naha-blog/making-and-using-flower-essences/

http://www.sacred-space.com.au/making-a-flower-essence-sun-method/

http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/summer-solstice-traditions

 

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All That Glitters…

“… and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11)

Everyone knows the bible story of the three wise men bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but what is it really about?

Most biblical historians interpret the three gifts as: ‘gold’ – the precious metal and symbol of divinity in ancient times, ‘frankincense’ – the resin incense burned in antiquity during prayer and worship, and ‘myrrh’ – the anointing oil used medicinally and also for embalming (in the bible, myrrh oil was given to Jesus to drink before crucifixion and was also taken to anoint his body after death).

Although most sources agree on this interpretation, some scholars believe the ‘gold’ may refer to a less well-known resin from North-Western Africa with a rich gold colour. This resin is known as Sandarac. Also referred to as Sandarach, Sandarus and Sandalus, Sandarac takes its name from an Assyrian word meaning “as bright as the moon”. Due to it’s semi-translucent, golden appearance, the greek philosopher Aristotle believed it was made by bees!

In ancient Arabia, Northern Africa and the Mediterranean, exotic resins were highly valued. Used in incense, medicine and perfume, it was custom for the wealthy to offer precious resins as gifts and these were often worth more than their weight in gold. Certainly, the frankincense and myrrh given by the magi to Jesus would have cost far more than gold of the same weight!

The Babylonians, Assyrians and ancient Egyptians sourced enormous amounts of resins via the ‘Incense Road’: a network of land (and later – sea) trading routes that connected them with the Mediterranean, North-Eastern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and India. This route was renowned for the transport of luxury goods: incense, spices, gems, pearls, ebony, ivory, silk, rare woods, feathers, animal skins and gold. In the earliest days of its existence, the journey was made by Arab tribes travelling via camel caravan (up to 150 camels in each caravan): transporting incense from southern Arabia to the civilisations scattered around the Mediterranean Sea. The towns or kingdoms that the convoys passed through quickly seized the opportunity to inflict heavy taxes on the merchants, who would switch routes accordingly to avoid them. This and the frequent sandstorms meant the route was often in flux: changing dependent on conditions. It is thought that at its height, the Incense Road saw over three thousand tons of incense transported each year by thousands of camels and camel drivers. Although traders stood to make a huge profit, the risk of attack by thieves, sickness and even death made it a very dangerous occupation.

Sandarac resin gathered from the Aratree (also known as Avar tree) would have been traded along this route: sourced mainly from the Atlas Mountains region of Morocco in North Africa, where it was a well-known folk medicine. Sandarac resin was burned to cure colds and taken internally to treat parasites. Its warm balsamic fragrance is thought to relax and calm the body, soul and mind. These attributes mean it can be useful in treating insomnia caused by tension or stress. Sandarac is believed to have cleansing, strengthening and clarifying properties.

The healing properties and reverence for tree resins that we find in the bible is beginning to be increasingly taken up by modern medicine. Frankincense is being explored as a treatment for cancer, Crohn’s disease, anxiety, depression and asthma among many other conditions. It is recognised to act as a fumigant: removing toxins from the air (one reason why resins were burned so frequently in ancient civilisations!). The chewing of a softer frankincense resin (Boswellia Frereana), a common practice in parts of Africa and the Middle East, is known to reduce bacteria in the mouth, throat and gut. Myrrh is being used to improve digestion and circulation, to boost the immune system, treat coughs, gum disease (we often find it in natural toothpastes), wounds, candida and some skin diseases.

It is wonderful to see the current revival of the use of frankincense and myrrh across Western medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and aromatherapy. Perhaps the ‘gold’ the three wise men brought as a gift gives us a clue to another potent healer: Sandarac resin.

 

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The Power of Daily Rituals

These are strange times to be alive indeed… There is a huge amount of tumultuous energy whirling around on Earth and it often feels like a daily struggle to remain grounded and not let emotions run riot: sending stress levels soaring. The pantomimes being played out across the media can easily be mistaken for what is really important; when what is truly important is always what is happening within. Our modern world is clever at duping us into thinking we are powerless; that we are reliant on external objects and ideas to find strength and happiness. One straight forward and almost instant way to reconnect with our personal power is through daily ritual.

The word ‘ritual’ feels charged with spooky scenes of witches stirring a cauldron or some kind of blood sacrifice – however, if we move beyond that we find ritual really translates to simply doing something regularly with deep awareness and intention.

What are your already existent daily habits? Can you add extra awareness to any of them, and in doing so create a more magic moment? Many of us make ourselves a hot drink in the morning: could this be done with added consciousness about what cup we use, which tea, how we boil the water, where we sit when we drink it and the state of mind we allow to flow as we do? Could we bring a more meditative state to the way we approach a daily task and even use it as a special time when we focus on an intention we may have to initiate positive change in our life? In the same way that meditation calms the mind and nervous system, creating small rituals out of our daily habits can be a real game-changer to one’s feelings. When we allow ourselves the time and focus to transform the mundane into the sacred through giving our full attention and grace; we feel the benefits on multiple levels.

 Alisha Battaglia talks of how ritual reawakens the body’s natural evolution mechanisms to help us be happier, healthier and feel more connected:

“Ritual allows us to enter sacred space with awareness to flow. There is often a point of focus at the center of a ritual in present time that helps us to reclaim our spirituality. Performing ritual is simply a tool to reawaken this aspect of our being because it provides a signal to the body to begin physiological and energetic changes to initiate change by aiming for an altered state of consciousness conducive to self-exploration and reprogramming.” 

This coming week, with Monday night/Tuesday morning’s super moon (peaking at 12.52am 15.11.16 – the biggest since 1948) could be the perfect time to upgrade your life by bringing a little ritual in. Full moons are often catalysts of change inspired by a new realisation or increased awareness in consciousness. Could you bring a little ritual into your life to help you reconnect to your power and your innate ability to heal, grow and manifest?

We’ve come up with a few daily rituals you might like to incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Morning yoga or meditation practice
  • Simply watching the sunrise (this is a powerful practice!)
  • Brewing and drinking a cup of tea (preferably in a pot with loose leaf tea, perhaps you have a special spoon and cup too!)
  • Burning resin incense or Palo Santo while you sit in the days first rays of light
  • Writing a page of ‘stream of consciousness’ thought as soon as you wake

Remember – start with something small at first… Creating new patterns of thought is a powerful process; and it doesn’t have to be hard!

Happy ritual creating! We’d love to see what you come up with – tag #ritualtherapy in your photos!

Rachel x

References:

http://www.chopra.com/articles/transform-your-life-with-the-power-of-ritual

http://www. lonerwolf.com/daily-ritual/

‘The Sacred Art of Ritual of Smudging’ by Reverend Alisa Battaglia

 

To help you to create ritual through incense, we are offering free shipping on all our Aromatic Treasure Box sampler sets through November! Click the image below!

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Lunar Manifestation

Tonight’s new moon in Virgo (Thursday 1st September, 7.05pm AEST) is the perfect time to set intentions for that which you wish to manifest this lunar cycle. A new moon heralds the energy of new beginnings; of starting over, and this one is a huge one! Amplified by a solar eclipse (visible from parts of Africa), and the energy of Mercury in retrograde (heightened due to the fact that Mercury is now in one of it’s own signs – Virgo – which it moved into on August 30th), tonight’s new moon sets powerful energies into spin that will affect us from here until early 2017. This month we even get a second eclipse: this one a lunar one, on September 16th. According to some of my favourite astrologers, we should expect a sense of ‘slowing down’ for the first three weeks of this month; giving us the opportunity to become aware of anything that needs our attention in order to be finished or resolved before we start moving forward again, and a deeper insight into how we have acted in the past as well as greater insight into our current plans and projects. We may receive guidance into our integrity regarding our ability to serve others and ourselves; and find new ways to do both these things. The intentions we set at this time may be linked to how we can better serve others, ourselves or our communities. Service and connection is a theme within the Virgo moon and is linked to the desire to connect with life that is inherent within the heart chakra. As this is a Virgo moon; we might look at how we organise ourselves: our routines and daily tasks; and use this time to revamp our methods to create newer, healthier patterns of thought and behaviour. This new moon, correlated and strengthened by the eclipse, means it’s a wonderful time to start afresh: to create new ways of being that nourish our essence and bring out the best in us!

Here’s our easy guide to creating your lunar manifestation ritual:

  • Put aside at least 15 minutes today (it doesn’t have to be exactly at 7.05pm! Choose whichever time works best for you), to sit in a comfortable place where you feel safe and will be undisturbed. Burn some of your favourite incense (this new moon we are using Kyphi to help us heal and restore from what has been a huge last cycle!)..make sure you have paper and pen close to hand
  • Spend 3-5 minutes sitting quietly; take three deep breaths to begin, then breathe deliberately and slowly through your nose, trying to empty your mind of thoughts and focusing only on your breath
  • When you feel calm and your mind feels still: pick up the paper and pen and begin your list of intentions for what you wish to manifest (make real, bring into your world) this lunar cycle. (Hint: You can phrase it as if your wishes have already come true..)
  • When ready, read your intentions aloud then fold up the paper and place it under your candle-holder (be safe!) and light the candle. You might want to add some more incense to your charcoal now…
  • Gaze into the candle flame, visualising the incense smoke transporting your intentions to other dimensions and realms.. where they are already coming true.. See your wishes made manifest in your mind’s eye
  • Blow out the candle or leave burning and blow out later.. You can leave your piece of paper here until the full moon or next new moon… Whatever feels right to you. If you feel to burn it now – do so! (Be careful!)
  • Hurrah! Lunar manifestation done!.. Now – relax and enjoy the feeling that your intentions being made manifest is already underway and your success is inevitable… Positivity is key!

Tuning into the lunar cycles can be such a refreshing antidote to the manic buzz and strain of day-to-day modern life. Many of us (myself definitely included) hurtle through life at such a rate of knots, that making some time to sit, focus, tune into the lunar cycle, and gather our thoughts and feelings of the heart, is SUCH a nourishing activity that brings us right into our centre and creates a deep sense of strength and peace.

Recently I’ve been loving using this gorgeous lunar calendar which is available as a free download from Ezzie Spencer, check it out here:

 

Let me know your thoughts below! What do you do on a new moon? Did you find this article helpful? xx

 

References:

http://www.mysticmamma.com/mercury-goes-retrograde-august-30th-till-september-22nd-2016/

http://newmoonmanifesting.com/cosmic-reboot-virgo-new-moon/

http://www.ezziespencer.com/free-lunar-planner/

https://www.facebook.com/alan.oken.9/posts/1401310979884065

http://www.instagram.com/phoenix_moonstar