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Incense is an aromatic substance that produces a pleasant fragrance when it’s burned. It has been used in religious and spiritual ceremonies as well as for enhancing one’s environment for centuries. In witchcraft, incense is often used to clear a space of negative energies or spirits as well as in all types of other spells. Incense can also represent the element of air on an altar or during spellwork.

There are two types of incense: combustible and noncombustible. The former will burn on its own once it has been lighted and the latter requires a separate heat source, such charcoal tablets, in order to burn. In addition, incense also comes in a variety of different forms such as coil, cone, loose, powder, resin or stick. The form you choose is a matter of availability and personal preference.

  • COIL, CONE & STICK: These incenses are made from a paste of ground ingredients including barks, essential oils, flowers, herbs, resins, spices, sawdust, and/or wood. These forms are almost always combustible.
  • LOOSE: This incense is comprised of any combination of barks, essential oils, flowers, herbs, resins, spices, and/or wood that are either crumbled or broken into tiny bits and pieces. Depending on the ingredients, loose incense may be combustible or it may require a separate heat source in order to burn.
  • POWDER: This incense is made of the same ingredients as loose incense but is completely ground into a powder. Powder incense may be combustible but it typically requires a separate heat source in order to burn.
  • RESIN: This incense is a hardened organic substance secreted by trees and other plants. It is sold in its natural form but may also be ground for use in other incense forms. Resin is typically burned using charcoal tablets. Resins may be ground and used in coil, cone, loose, and stick incenses. Resins are denoted below with an asterisk (*).

An incense’s magickal properties will depend on the materials used to make it. As such, it’s important to purchase good quality incense made of natural ingredients; for example, real essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances, which have no magickal properties. Also, it’s best to select incenses that are easily identifiable, such as “Lavender Incense.” An incense named “Goddess Delight” may have a lovely fragrance but the name won’t tell you anything about its ingredients or magickal properties.

Single incenses (i.e. jasmine incense or copal resin) can be more versatile than blends (i.e. Prosperity Incense). Not only are they effective individually but two or more can also be burned together, depending on the spell being worked. For instance, you could use clove incense in a spell to help you remove a curse or together with chervil incense in magick to increase your creativity when you’re suffering from a very stubborn writer’s block.

When possible, however, you might want to craft your own incense with the exact ingredients you need for your magick. You’d know for certain that only natural ingredients such as dried herbs, dried flowers, pure essential oils, ground resins, etc. have gone into your incense. You could also craft blends for specific spells, knowing you’ve used properly corresponding ingredients.

If your spell does not specifically call for incense but you wish to use it to represent air, select an incense which has magickal properties that correspond with the magick you are working.

  CAUTION: Some studies show that certain resins such as frankincense may contain psychoactive ingredients that can affect brain chemistry when burned and then inhaled. As such, please consult your physician before burning, inhaling, or otherwise using any of the above resins, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, allergic, intolerant, or sensitive to frankincense.

The below incenses and resins are by no means an exhaustive list of those used in magick. Rather, these are some that are typically available for purchase in Canada.

ALLSPICE: Achievement; business; compassion; courage; efficiency; good luck; job interview success; spiritual, emotional, and psychic healing; repel negative energy; success; winning job competitions; winning in general; workplace efficiency; workplace happiness.

*AMBER: Balance; calming; clarity; confidence; courage; Goddess energy & power; harmony; knowledge; longevity; meditation; memory improvement; past-life recollection; patience; prosperity; psychic protection; purification; victory; wisdom.

CEDAR / CEDARWOOD: Breaking spells; clearing; cleansing; compassion; grounding; healing; intuition; protection; purification; peacefulness; serenity; wisdom.

CHAMOMILE: Animal magick; anxiety; calming; children spells; curse breaking; divination; emotional protection; happiness; healing; health; hex breaking; lucid dreaming; magick repelling; meditation; nightmare prevention; peace of mind; peacefulness; psychic protection; relaxation; soothing; sound sleep; spiritual clarity; stress relief.

CHERVIL: Afterlife transitioning; connection with the divine; creativity; inspiration; mental stimulation; past-life recollection; spiritual renewal; spirit communications.

CINNAMON: Attention attraction; business acumen; business success; creativity; financial gain; fire magick; intellectual stimulation; libido; lust; knowledge; money; power; prosperity; sexual love; success; winning.

CLOVE: Achievement; business success; comfort; compelling; creativity; curse removal; debt repayment; encourage action; financial success; intellectual stimulation; money; perceptions; prosperity; protection; safety.

*COPAL: Afterlife transitioning; love; meditation; purification; spirit communications.

*DRAGON’S BLOOD: Banishing; calming; dispelling; peacefulness; protection; purification; stamina.

EUCALYPTUS: Cleansing; concentration; endurance; focus; health; illness prevention; physical energy; physical healing; physical strength; protection; purification.

*FIR: Banishing; celebrations; cleansing; healing; mental endurance; physical endurance.

*FRANKINCENSE: Addiction; bad intentions; banishing; consecration of tools; courage; dispelling; happiness; protection; purification; spiritual awareness; spiritual balance; spiritual clarity; spiritual development; tool purification. [This is the masculine counterpart to myhrr]

GARDENIA: Attention attraction; comfort; compassion; devotion; friendship; full moon magick; happiness; harmony; heartbreak; influence; peace; peacefulness; psychic awareness; romantic love; secret love.

JASMINE: Abundance; anxiety; astral projection and travel; clairvoyant dreams; decision-making; happiness; joyfulness;  love; lucid dreaming; lust; meditation; money; passion; pleasant dreams; psychic ability; prosperity; prosperous lover attraction; prosperous marriage; psychic abilities; purification; romantic love; seduction; sensuality; sexual love; spiritual awareness; wisdom.

LAVENDER: Anger; anxiety; balance; calming; cleansing; clearing; concentration; courage; depression; dispelling negative energies; emotional balance, healing & protection; fidelity; focus; friendship; grounding; happiness; harmony; heartbreak; joyfulness; insomnia; inspiration; lover attraction; loyalty; magickal ability; magickal power; mental clarity; peace of mind; psychological healing; purification; romantic love; soothing; stress reduction; unrequited love; wisdom.

MAGNOLIA: Addiction; calming; faithfulness; fidelity; loyalty; marital harmony & honesty; marriage; meditation; nobility; obsession; peace of mind.

MINT: Adversity; appetites; calming; clarity; creativity; fears; grief; happiness; healing; intellectual stimulation; jealousy; lust; meditation; mental acuity; prophetic dreams; protection; purity; relationship healing; renewal; repel negative energies & spirits; sexual endurance; sorrow.

*MYRRH: Breaking spells; consecration of tools; courage; fortitude; grief; meditation; mourning; psychic balance; psychic healing; psychic protection; spiritual awareness; wisdom. [This is the feminine counterpart to frankincense]

NAG CHAMPA [blend]: Balance; calming; cleansing; clearing; emotional healing; focus; grounding; harmony; meditation; negative energy repelling; peace of mind; peacefulness; purification; soothing; spiritual awareness and enlightenment; spirituality; stress. [Nag champa is a sacred traditional Indian blend of halmaddi tree resin and sandalwood as well as floral components such as the champa flower and/or ylang ylang]

PATCHOULI: Aphrodisiacs; confusion; distraction; divination; earth magick; elemental magick; fertility; grounding; repelling former lovers; romantic love; sensuality; sexual health; sexual stamina; virility.

PEPPERMINT: Appetite reduction; calming; creativity; intellectual stimulation; jealousy; mental acuity; relationship healing; sexual endurance; weight loss.

*PINE: Betrayal; clairvoyance; cleansing; divination; grounding; home protection; knowledge; good health; mental restoration; negative energy repelling; physical healing; positive energy attraction; purification.

ROSEMARY: Blocking negative spells; breaking negative spells; clairvoyance; cleansing; dispelling; divination; healing; intellect; memory; mental clarity; mental energy; nightmare prevention; protection; purification; school grades improvement; studying ability; water magick.

SANDALWOOD: Afterlife transitioning; banishing spirits; calming; clearing; concentration; consecration; focus; healing; meditation; mindfulness; peace of mind; peacefulness; prosperity; protection; purification; soothing; spirits communications; spirituality; wealth.

SWEETGRASS: Attract helpful spirits; deity communications; positive energies; spirituality; wishes.

VANILLA: Appetites; charisma; emotional balance; comfort; happiness; home magick; libido; lust; passion; peace of mind; sexual desire; sexuality.

WHITE SAGE: Animal magick; balance; blessing; breaking negative spells; clearing; cleansing; dispelling; healing; protection; purification; spell breaking; strength; tool consecration.

YLANG-YLANG: Decisions; depression; good luck; happiness; harmony; inhibitions release; problem-solving; pure love; relationship protection.

Incense Tools

CAULDRON:  This is a three-legged cast iron pot that has a curved handle. A small cauldron is often used to safely burn powdered and resin incenses with charcoal tablets.

CENSER: A small fire-safe dish or vented container used to safely burn incense in. It is typically made of metal or stone but also sometimes of iron. A larger censer or another fire-safe plate should be used to safely burn coil incense.

CHARCOAL TABLETS: Also called charcoal disks or charcoal pucks. These are used to burn resins and powdered incenses that will not burn on their own. Charcoal absorbs, dispels, and repels negative energies and as such, it is useful with corresponding powdered incense or resin in banishing, binding, healing, and protection magick.

  • To Use: Follow the package directions, if applicable. Otherwise, place the tablet in a small cauldron or a censer that is elevated with a pedestal or legs. Light the charcoal. Once it is glowing, add a small piece of resin or a half-teaspoon of powdered incense as more may cause the charcoal smother and be extinguished. Shortly, your incense will begin to smoulder, releasing its magickal fragrant smoke.

Photo: Max Pixel · CC0 1.0

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