“Gold is just dust when still in the ground, and oud
in its country of origin, is just another kind of firewood.”
~Muhammad Ibn Idris al-Shafi’i 767-820 C.E.
If we look back in history, we can connect this quote to the stated first discovery of Oud or agarwood in Japan. It is said that a large log washed up on the beach and was gathered and burnt for firewood. When the wood was burnt, it was discovered that this wood was very special indeed as it let off a perfume only the gods could have created. Agarwood has been a prized wood and scent for many centuries.
The Japanese made incense from this wood and called it Jinko, or “sinking wood” because it was heavier than other wood and did not float well. Agarwood is also called Aloeswood, Oud and Eagle-Wood around the world.
Agarwood is used in traditional Tibetan medicinal preparations and is called Eaglewood (unique, yellow, light & black). Agarwood also has special uses in Chinese medicine.
The scent of Agarwood is musky, woodsy, rich and always original. It has been all but impossible to correctly mimic this scent in synthetic preparations.
Agarwood comes from the center or “heartwood” of the Aquilara tree from Southeast Asia that has been infected by a fungus. The tree is infected at the roots and in response, creates a thick, dark resin to protect itself from the infection. This resin, and the wood that holds it is Agarwood. The older the tree and the longer the infection has flourished within the tree, the more precious and fragrant the Agarwood. There is no way to tell which trees in the wild have been infected with this fungus, so the practice is to randomly cut down trees or open their bark, looking for the dark resinous wood. This practice has meant that Aquilara species trees in the wild in some countries are endangered.
Many countries have now created tree farms, in which Aquilara trees are specially grown, inoculated with fungus and then harvested after a minimum of seven years to get Agarwood. It is said that these farmed trees don’t produce the same fragrance in their Agarwood as do trees in the wild, and the reason for this is not known at this time.
Most incenses found in the market contain a lower grade agarwood and are usually grown on a farm, because the cost of wild agarwood is formidable. 2.2 pounds of high quality agarwood sold for over $500 just 20 years ago and the price has only gone up since then. Using first quality agarwood would make the price of incense unaffordable for most people, so lower quality agarwoods are used.
When all the noise is silenced,
The meetings adjourned…
The lists laid aside,
And the Wild Iris blooms
In the dark forest…
What still pulls on your soul?” ~Rumi
This time of year brings us to questions like these. Contemplations about life, endings, beginnings and what really matters. Family and being with loved ones is one thing that pulls at the soul…
The days are colder and when we at Violet and Company Incense are together now, we are burning sandalwood incenses. Any sandalwood incense is warm and woody, creating a cozy atmosphere. One of our favorites is Sri Rama Benzoin & Perfumery Works Sandalwood. It is a dry sandalwood that is slightly sweet and very delicious. Violet and Company Incense sells this in lots of 100 sticks (4 packets of 25 sticks each)-$3.00.
Violet and Company has decided to put all Gonesh Classic incense on sale while supplies last! Supplies are limited, so when the incense runs out, so does the sale! Sale scheduled to run through 11/07/2012
We want to celebrate our U.K. customers today!
Violet and Company Incense sells incense all over the world, and we recently had the good fortune to have some of our Ramakrishnananda’s Gifts go out to the U.K. Some went to England, some to Ireland and the customers were wonderful!
We hope to have more customers in the U.K. and hope that more Ramakrishnananda’s Gifts go to the U.K.
We have created a 10% off sale for all Ramakrishnananda’s Gifts products, including Attar oils and Incense to extend a thank you to our U.K. customers. Sale ends November 7, 2012.
This morning in my inbox, I found the most wonderful and true quote in Lisa Coffey’s daily mail. It went something like this…
-Macrina Wiederkehr, 1979
Our lives are a work in progress. We’re all doing the best we can. It helps to be nurturing, and encouraging to one another. But if we can’t do that, the least we can do is to be gentle. Allow for the process to happen.”-Lisa Coffey
This is so true, especially in the way that we talk to ourselves and what we believe about ourselves. You never know where this path will take you. The best thing to do is follow what your gut tells you to do and do it with all your might and don’t stop-for anything. Appreciate yourself and be understanding of yourself. Be amazed as you watch hard work and tenacity give way to your future!
Every day at Violet and Company Incense we burn incense to focus the mind to the positive and Sunandaraja incense is one of our favorites. If you haven’t tried it, go ahead! This little bundle of incense is great. The scent somehow pulls the mind towards highest aspirations and leaves the mundane behind.
Ma Laxmi Dhoop-The Goddess of Wealth, is a traditional Nepali dhoop made by Traditional Nepali Dhoop Pvt. Ltd, Nepal. This dhoop is made in the traditional masala method, using essential oils, spices, flowers and aromatic herbs.
Ma Laxmi is the goddess of wealth, and this dhoop, although it has the earthy aroma of traditional tibetan incense, has a light flowery side. Flowers are a perfect offering to the beautiful, kind heart of Ma Laxmi. Kindness, love, compassion & gentleness go hand in hand. They are what true beauty is made of.
Violet and Company Incense imports this Dhoop directly from Nepal so it is always fresh.
to be immersed in a scent world,
is to shift your consciousness
and to awaken to the moment more fully.
~Mandy Aftel, Essence and Alchemy
We just got Mandala Art and Incense’s Tibetan Rose (Gulab) incense, straight from Nepal. This incense is incredible. It is earthy and subtle with a good infusion of rose. There is a muskiness about it that offsets the sweetness of the rose, creating a subtle balance. The incense comes in a paper tube, with 30 sticks of incense inside. It also contains a burner. Each stick burns for approximately 60 minutes.
Be careful with this incense, it is delicate. It is stickless, so the upside is that if it does break, you can just burn it in smaller chunks and none is wasted.
The incense does come with a burner, but our favorite way to burn it is in a bowl full of small rocks. We put the incense in between the rocks to hold it up. Some people use small bowls full of rice or sand to hold up their incense and burn multiple sticks at a time.
According to the manufacturer, Rose is a symbol of love and purity and Buddhists use it as an aid to meditation and prayer. In aromatherapy, it is used to sooth emotions such as sadness and resentment.
“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