Incense of the Land

At the end of March, I discovered an eastern hemlock tree in our yard was weeping resin. This is quite common in the spring, especially if trees have a wound. I found smaller globs on the white pine in front of our house, but the hemlock must have lost a branch or something. I collected the bottom portion and left the rest to help the tree heal. It’s a natural bandage, basically.

When I was younger, I tried to use charcoal discs to burn sandalwood resin. I vividly remember setting off the smoke alarm after struggling to get the darn thing lit. Then I burned my hand when I panicked and picked up the metal incense holder I was using. What a silly young druid I was… Clearly, I get the title “Ditzy Druid” from somewhere! The whole experience put me off using this method for years, but I was always inspired by others like Sarah Anne Lawless who made incense blends using locally sourced resins.

The interesting thing about this walk was I set out in the hopes of finding resin. I felt ready to try again, so I made offerings to the local spirits and brought the appropriate tools to gather. When I found the sticky treasure, I asked for permission and, as I said, did not take more than needed.

Once home, I ground up dried mugwort and lavender from my gardens last year. I mixed it all together with my hands. Though it smelled amazing, the process is very messy. Thankfully I read about using olive oil to clean up before starting. That made a big difference, and after all the hand washing we’ve been doing recently, the oil was very healing for my skin!

I let the pellets dry for a few weeks, but decided to try burning one today. I’m still awful at lighting these dark charcoal discs. My husband helped me, and we did get it going for a bit! The incense smelled divine! The soft, subtle scent of forest filled my kitchen for a short time. I’m pleased with the results and just need to improve my method of igniting everything.

For more information on trying this yourself, I highly suggest reading this resource from The Druid’s Garden and this from the Apothecary’s Garden.

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

3 thoughts on “Incense of the Land

  1. When trying to light the pellets, I have found holding them with long handle tweezers work wonders in saving burned fingers.

    1. I watched a video that showed someone using little tongs. My tweezers are too slender, so I tried using my kitchen tongs which were, unfortunately, too wide! It made for a cumbersome experience. I’ll have to look for some bigger tweezers.

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