Resin incense has a uniquely scented history that has been used for purification, religious purposes, heightening spiritual awareness and bringing pure enjoyment for thousands of years. For countless generations, the fragrances of frankincense, copal and myrrh have lingered in temples, churches and homes, the dance of their smoke often caught by the filtered sunlight before it wafts out of doorways and into streets. Plant resins are the dried sap of trees that contain the essence of the tree’s spirit and energy. The aroma and energy of these powerful and highly concentrated sources are released when they are burned, most commonly on a small piece of charcoal. While some burn resin incense purely for their ancient fragrances, others use them as a central part of their rituals and ceremonies in order to welcome other realms and spiritual qualities. Each resin holds different properties and, therefore, they are used with different purposes in mind. While there are several different resins found throughout the world, the most common and well known are copal, frankincense and myrrh.
Copal, Frankincense and Myrrh
Frankincense resin is found in trees in the Middle East and North Africa, where it gathers energy from the hot desert sun and eliminates negativity. It is renowned for the sacred atmosphere that it creates, helping to enhance meditation as it has the ability to make one more aware of the spiritual realms. It has been used to deepen experiences during religious rituals for thousands of years and is best known by Christians, as well as myrrh, as one of the precious gifts offered by the three wise men to Jesus shortly after he was born.
Myrrh also comes from the Middle East and North Africa, and the thorny flowered shrub from which it is derived also thrives in Northern India. Not only is its fragrance rich and its mood tranquil, it has a list of properties including the ability to expand one’s awareness by connecting the energy center, or chakra, at the top of the head to the one at the base of the spine. This healing resin is ideal for use both before and during religious rituals.
Shamanism, Tantra and Resins
Resins have been used for millennia by the world’s main religions and they are also a significant part of rituals within shamanism. Shamans have the ability to reach and even influence good and bad spirits to help heal people, interacting with the spiritual realm by attaining altered states of consciousness. In treatises of the Tantra tradition of Hinduism, we find instructions about how to offer aromatic and colorful resins to the deities during worship. So whether your interest in this ancient practice of resin burning is simply to bring magical aromas into your environment, to purify or have your spiritual perceptions heightened, make sure to burn the incense in a fireproof bowl and enjoy!