“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
Without rests, music would not be music, it would just be a continual stream of noise. Without quiet time, we would not be able to regroup and relax. Silence is a very important and sometimes lacking thing in our lives.
I recently had to visit San Francisco, and was overwhelmed by the noise, activity and busyness of the city. Everywhere I went there was a car running, a person talking, a bus stopping with a loud hiss of hydraulic brakes. At night, the BART blew its whistle every 15 minutes until midnight, when either it stopped or I fell asleep. When I got back to my home in a small town, I was thankful to sit down on my back porch and hear absolutely nothing but the beating of my heart and the soft padding of my cats paws as she walked across the deck. If you live in a city like San Francisco, there is always some sort of noise that breaks through and disturbs quiet moments. If you live with others there may always be someone asking a question or talking to you about something. No matter what your situation today, there is almost always something or someone who fills the quiet time with noise.
Sometimes we don’t realize how inundated we are by sound. It is nice, once in awhile, to just go into a quiet place where you can be alone, and sit. Think whatever thoughts there are to be thought, listen to your own breathing and the comforting beat of your heart. It is nice to burn a nice, subtle incense during these times. I prefer VIVA Mainichi-Koh by Nippon Kodo. Koh means Sandalwood and Mainichi means “everyday”. This is just a subtle, everyday scent that inspires relaxation and joy and is perfect for enjoying quiet times.
Cone, Resin and Powder
Incense can be found in many forms. It is most often seen as sticks or cones. Last blog we talked about stick and coil incense. This time I’d like to address cone, resin and powder incense.
Cone Incense: Cone incense is one of the most common forms of incense in the Western world. Cone incense is made of the same things that stick incense is made of: ground woods, gums, resins, herbs and aromatic oils. There is also a combustion agent added. Some use saltpeter, some use charcoal. Others use a natural substance called Makko, which comes from a tree. Because there is no wood core in cone incense, the chemical make up is a bit different than the stick incense, and there is no wood to mingle with the stick. For this reason, the smell of cone incense can be slightly different than the stick. If you are used to a stick incense and would like to try the same aroma in a cone form, be aware it may not be exactly the same experience you are used to.
Resin Incense: Resin incense is hardened sap from trees, bushes, shrubs.
It is one of the oldest and most natural forms of incense. Resin incense is what is called a “non-combustible” incense, meaning that you must put it on something that is burning in order for it to burn and release its aroma. Frankincense resin, Myrrh resin, Ylang Ylang as well as Rose resin all come from trees, shrubs and bushes. Resin is very hard and can be broken up to burn smaller pieces. Resins are not only used in meditation, resins are used by some in rituals. Different resins can have different meanings or purposes depending on which ritual is being performed.
powdered incense photo courtesy of Modern Dryad incense
Powder Incense: Powder incenses are simply either resins or incense materials such as roots, bark, flowers, etc. that have been ground into a powder (for example sandalwood powder). Some, such as the sandalwood powder and the many incense powders at Modern Dryad Incense, are also non-combustible and must be burnt on charcoal or another burning medium, such as Makko (see above).
There are some self-igniting incense powders that are pre-prepared. These include powders such as the Medicine Buddha Incense Powder, Dragon’s Blood and Come Hither Powder. Violet and Company doesn’t carry these, but you can find them on the internet. We at Violet and Company would recommend visiting Modern Dryad Incense to try some of their cones and powders.
This blog is by no means exhaustive and there is much more to be explained about the complex and ancient forms of incense. Hopefully, this is just a start and you will be able to learn more in the future.
What Herbal Incense is
photo courtesy of Rob Ostermaier/Daily Press in the Washington Post
Herbal incense, Spice, Herbal smoke-it all adds up to designer drugs sprayed on herbs that people inhale in order to alter consciousness. It has been linked to deaths, seizures, hallucinations, vomiting, anxiety and accelerated heart rate. It is the second most used illicit substance among high school seniors.
What Herbal Incense is not
Herbal incense is not sold by Violet and Company. In my opinion, herbal incense should not even be called incense because it is not.
Incense is a sacred substance among many of the worlds religions including Hinduism, Neo-Paganism and Buddhism. True incense has been used, prepared and traded for hundreds of years. True incense is used by the intelligent, courageous and spiritual to forge ahead on roads less travelled by most. Herbal incense is a cheap substitute used by those without knowledge in their innocent attempt to learn what meditation, reading, study and observation would teach.
We at Violet and Company urge anyone thinking about using Herbal incense, thinking it is a “natural substance” and thus is OK, to think deep and long about this. Putting chemical substances of unknown origin into the body may be seriously polluting your vehicle and your consciousness. Herbal incense has been linked to the deaths of young people and has caused seizures and other serious mental health issues. Five minutes of altered consciousness is not worth death or permanent damage to the mind.
Every individual and every being on this earth is unique and important. The things that each of us have to offer to this world are unique to ourselves and can’t be provided or offered by anyone else. We are all essential. It is important to keep the body healthy and the mind clear so that we can each fulfill our unique destiny, whatever that may be.
A good place to start in the pursuit of the exploration of your unique gifts is an online magazine such as Tathaastu magazine, which is a Sanskrit benediction for “it shall be so” or “so be it”. Tathaastu is an affirmation as well as an expression of a desire. Tathaastu magazine explores and introduces the ideas of health, wellness and the exploration of true and deep relationships. It addresses the teaching of how to tap into your own personal power-these are all things that lead to peace, joy, happiness, prosperity, feeling confident and relaxed. Basically all of the things that those who use Herbal Incense seek to find, but do not know how to get.
Coffey, Lissa. www.whatsyourdosha.com Dosha Newsletter, 01/03/12.
Tathaastu Online Magazine. http://www.tathaastumag.com/index.php
Sandalwood. It is a basic scent that most people know, even if they can’t put their finger on the exact scent. Sandalwood is in many things from incense, to cosmetics to perfume. Sandalwood inspires unity with the Divine, imposes a masculinity, blends well with other scents such as Patchouli or Rose and is a base scent for many incenses. It provides a solid wood base note that many other scents can climb up and ring off of. Many things can be said about sandalwood and it is a favorite scent here at Violet and Company.
Sandalwood is a type of tree from the genus Santalum. Popular sandalwood trees are Indian sandalwood and Australian sandalwood. Sandalwood is called Chandan in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Precious Chandan by HEM is a wonderful Indian sandalwood fragrance-very sweet. You can find it at Violet and Company by clicking on the link above. Sandalwood is known as Koh in Japanese. Mainichikoh is a favorite sandalwood incense by Nippon Kodo-very woody and spicy. Mainichikoh is a beautiful Japanese incense; the fragrance is perfectly placed with authentic oils and woods used to really capture the woody, hearty aroma of sandalwood.
sandalwood tree in Australia courtesy of waratahsoftware.com.au
Sandalwood plays large parts in the great religions of the world. Buddhism and Hinduism use sandalwood extensively. Neo-pagans also use sandalwood in rituals and meditation. Sandalwood resins are rubbed on the skin to scent the body or burnt on charcoal as a pure form of sandalwood incense. Sandalwood oil is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat mental health issues and by others to beautify skin. As always, if the oil is to be used, it should only be advised and controlled by someone educated in the uses of essential oils, as essential oils are potent distillations of plant matter and are very concentrated.
Violet and Company has the sandalwood for you-whether it is Mainichikoh, Yoga Sandalwood, Precious Chandan, Sandalwood resins, Suvarna Dhara or Mysore Sandalwood. If you don’t find what you want on the website, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will find what you want.
References: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandalwood#Fragrance