An ancient symbol of prayer and devotion, incense is the very first step towards any meditation practice in our calm and peaceful little East London cottage. Just lighting a cone or stick totally transforms the energy and lifts the vibration of a room, and it is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to connect with any prayer, ceremony or self exploration. But, as with so many things these days, I would prefer to create my own than buy it from a store. And since different spiritual endeavours call for their own family of flavours, the freedom to play around with recipes and blends is always one I enjoy exploring.
The base of any incense is a resin to burn, and here I have combined makko and benzoin gum. Makko is the Japanese word for incense powder and comes from the bark of the tabu no ki tree. It is water soluble, fully combustible and has virtually no scent itself, making it the perfect binding base for whatever blends we want to work in with it. Benzoin gum, also known as the frankincense of Java and benjamin gum (nothing to do with Ben but surely a sign of something great!) is the resin from the Styrax Benzoin tree family, found throughout Asia, and is also a common base for incense due to its warm, sweet, balsamic flavour which blends neatly with most other flavours.
As winter has been lingering too long with cold winds and rainy days, woody sandalwood and ancient frankincense seemed to be perfect companions in my inaugural blend. Added lemongrass keeps things fresh and reminds us of spring just around the corner.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can really add any flavours to the makko and benzoin, and the possibilities are limtless. Crafting your own flavour is a wonderful creative process and brings a real power of itention and love to your meditation, prayer or general daily life. This is the element of making things that I really love – the sense of the personal and of forging a little gift to yourself, or another, with your own intuition. Of course there will be some disasters, but that makes the successes smell even sweeter.
Get blending and see where the powders take you…. More recipes from me to come.
Makes about 6 cones
1.5 tsp makko
2 tsp lemongrass powder
1 tsp frankincense
1 tsp sandalwood
1/2 tsp benzoin gum
In a pestle and mortar, blend all the ingredients into a fine powder. Then add a tiny amount of water, drop by drop (probably 3 or 4 small ones) until a heavy dough-like paste forms and you can mould the mixture into little cones. Leave them to dry out for at least 24 hous before burning.