I must be incense inept.
I found some incense when I popped out to the store to get Christmas cards Friday night–I found I only had two leftover from last year–that smelled wonderful. Like being outside in the woods at the lake, and sunshine. So I bought it, and brought it home.
I intended to use it on my altar, in place of the box of Tibetan Offering Incense I was gifted by a dear friend, that was there as a more symbolic representation of air as I never burned any for fear my family–or maybe I–would be allergic. (I have a fountain for water, a candle for fire, river rocks for earth, and a small praying hands sculpture for spirit, in addition to two meditation malas, a box of crystals, and the unlit incense that has been there for a long time to represent air.) This incense smelled less strong, and so I thought it would be less likely to cause problems. It even had an innocuous scent title: Nature.
So, this evening, I put it in the holder and read the directions. I lit a match and held it to the incense until it caught, then I blew out the flame. It started burning fast, and ended up smelling more like a forest fire than the sweet outside scent I had imagined. I hoped, after the initial fire-up, the scorched smell would fade. In fact, I couldn’t concentrate on anything as I tried to read and, briefly, attempt to meditate, other than my nose screaming an alarm that something was BURNING, and not in a good way!
Well, my guess is one of two things:
- The incense was old and most of the essential oils and such had dissipated, just leaving the woody stick,
- I let the flame stay too long, and thus it was burning too hot and fast.
Then again, maybe it was a combination of both, or maybe incense is supposed to smell like the house is burning down. I wouldn’t know how it’s supposed to smell, since I haven’t used it before. Somehow, though, I seriously doubt anyone would ever use it on their altars if it smelled like the house was burning down.
So, I’ve decided to go back to the status quo until I can go outside and do further test runs. (I don’t want that smell in my room again.) I’ll just use the incense unlit like I’ve been doing, at least until the weather is more hospitable for outdoor experimentation.