Memories Come Floating Like Incense


I love incense. I love the scents, the fluid motion as it delicately scales the walls. I love the way I make it coil around my hands, fingers and body. I love how something so small can mean so much when cleansing tools or the body. You’re probably wondering why I’m going on about incense, so let me explain in an odd way… this is a spur of the moment post, so excuse the mistakes and I totally understand if you don’t understand at first.

I have just finished up a late devotion for the day, and I love to light incense after everything is finished with in order to keep the sense of calm going around. I pulled out some incense that I haven’t used in a long time, and sadly I forgot what its scent was. It doesn’t matter what the packaging says, if it’s something I don’t use often I will forget. The scent was lemongrass. It is sweet, full of zest and very energising. The last time I burned lemongrass was way back in the early days of magick as a young girl. Lighting incense in the house as a child was like asking my uncle to give me a full bottle of whisky instead of mixing it with warm milk. It was allowed, but just spoken about. My aunt, the lady who raised me along with the nanny and a few cousins and friends, was stuck in the 60s and 70s era. No matter what I did to bring her to the noughties, she refused to live in today’s world. As far as I knew, we liked hippies and mini’s but that was it. I always associated incense sticks and such alike with hippies, rockers and the people in between. The closest I felt I could get to incense was scented candles. We had a beautiful dinner candle set for the dining room table, in various colours (depending on my aunt’s mood) but they weren’t scented. The Menorah was the same, white candles to symbolise purity and that was all. The adults used incense but the kids didn’t and that was the story.

When I started practising Wicca I used oils and coloured candles. I would spend some nights scribbling down new devotions, incantations and spells by candlelight and be happy. My crystals would sit on the windowsill and I’d sometimes watch the light from the sun or moon shine down on them. Magick was moving into my life very quickly, and I just lapped it up. There was a store down an alleyway which was off the High Street that was full of crystals, CDs, chimes, herbs and incenses that only lived for 6 months. Back then the New Age phenomena hadn’t quite grabbed the attention of the nation as quickly as other parts of the country. It was in that little shop that I bought my first pack of incense sticks in lemongrass. If I remember correctly, I went home to an empty house, opened one of my Wiccan books and began to cleanse my room with the lemongrass, chanting as I went along. I picked up how to cleanse tools, my room, altar and myself with incense within a matter of a week. So much so I wrote it in my first shadow Journal with terrible mistakes and bad grammar.

In the early days I experimented with various scents until I found one that appealed to my nose and my energy. I ended up settling on sandalwood, frankincense, Egyptian musk and the unknown scent for Leo and Libra (I am not sure what they are, but it’s those blue packets with the sky and grass on them?). I’ve stuck with those scents for almost everything I do, whether it be meditation, chilling, getting rid of nasty smells or cleansing the room. It is an odd feeling, to know that something tasty can take you back to the early days of life, and today my incense took me back almost 12 years. It was such a vivid recurring moment and it made me smile and think about how far I have come in life. If there is one thing that I find odd about it, it may sum up part of the reason why I love all things lemon scented, even lemongrass.

Like I said, I love incense. What things take you back to funny forgotten moments in your life?


Author: Sy Calaelen

Sy Calaelen is a British writer, blogger and Youtube vlogger, though she isn't filming at the moment. English literature graduate. Both sites will focus on literary reviews, book lists, comic books and nerd chat, writing and novel tips, and discussions in magick, paganism and the occult. A mixture of everything from her. Reach out on social media from Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, GoodReads, and Pinterest.

3 thoughts on “Memories Come Floating Like Incense

  1. I also love incense. Once I discovered burning them, the feeling of peace and cleansing that it gave me and my ritual space–I can’t live without them. Myself, i have fallen in love with Dragon’s Blood, reminds me of the witch shops in Salem. But from there I discovered that i love sandal wood…When i burn em, and use the smoke to purify my circle (which i just started using) and place it in the incense holder, i cup my hands and bring the smoke and wasp it over my head…just something about that brings me great peace, i feel like i’ve made my self sacred and just totally changes my outlook and brings me peace.

    It’s nice to know that someone out there is an incense head like myself!

  2. I must confess I’m not much of an incense person, but now that Candlemass, Imbolc or Disablot is upon us – for all these three pagan holidays happen around the same time, ie tomorrow – my candlemaking season draws to a close. I generally start making candles around Alvablot / Halloween / All Saint’s and then I go on making them through the darkest season of the year. One candle always remains lit and burning in front of my Freya statue, whenever I’m at home, and awake. It serves as a small, portable “hearth” while I’m away from home too, and reminds me of those I have lost, or for those friends for whom I pray – or do a Blót, as it were.

    Don’t know why, but from sheer thrift – if nothing else – I’ve always collected candle ends since a child, and the odd tea candle, beeswax and what I can find goes into my candles too. Buying yarn for wicks isn’t all that expensive, and colours for home-made candles can be had at almost any hobby or handicraft shop. Perfumes and incense can of course be added to home made candles as well, if one wants scent – (ordinary perfume works as well, as do herb leafs, cloves, cinnamon etc) and if one wants to be really elaborate, one can hand-dip the wicks in liquid wax instead of just pouring a molten mixture down a plastic cup, which is much simpler. Making trident-shaped candles, for Yule, is a Swedish speciality in Northland and Dalecarlia – I haven’t seen trident (or multi-armed) candles anywhere else. The trick is to add a knot to the wick, and then shape or bend the hand-dipped candle as you go along – using a mold would be tantamount to cheating. Adding gunpowder grains, the contents of the odd firecracker etc to your plastic cup candles is a bit silly though, and something I’ve outgrown with the years, but while in my teens, I can recall making “surprise” candles as (partly embarrassing) new year’s gifts – most of the time, the sole effect will be a fizzing sound, and a candle that will go out by itself, splashing molten wax everywhere. If placed on a sturdy tray or a porcellaine plate, the “fizzy” candles may be used as an alarm clock or reminder not to sit in front of a computer too long, or a wake-up call perhaps…

  3. Pingback: Scents of Life « gordopdx

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