So you're about to do your ritual, and you're trying to figure out just what kind of ritual incense you should use. There is a plethora of choices out there, from stick incense to cone incense, to powder incense, to resin incense, and all the different scents and flavors, and why not just burn a pack of herbs, and this website tells me that I should use only THIS blend for Isis and THIS blend for Ostara, and what do I DO?
Your confusion is natural. Every person who sells ritual incense wants to sell THEIR particular brand or formula of ritual incense. This is how this great capitalistic society works. But which kind is "right" and which kind is "wrong?"
Kestra is an eclectic Wiccan. To some, that means "anything goes" but to Kestra, it means "research and make your own decision based on logic." So, let's say, for example, you are doing a group ritual for Ostara. What would your thought process be in order to choose the "right" Wiccan ritual incense for the occasion?
Your first consideration should always be for the people who will take part in the ritual. If they are allergic to most ritual incense, that narrows your choices. Most people who say they are allergic to ritual incense say so because they have been exposed to stick incense with a bamboo core, or to cone incense with many artificial additives. These things burn with a lot more smoke, and tend to irritate the sensitive.
So let's say you have one or two ritual goers who are sensitive to ritual incense, and you are having the ritual indoors due to a downpour or whatever. You then want to look at a natural ritual incense. You can use natural stick incense without the bamboo core, natural cone incense with as few additives as possible, or pull out the cauldron and the charcoal and use powder or resin. Many resins can be rather.... harsh, so keep that in mind when making your choice of ritual incense.
For the sake of argument, let's say you have decided on powdered ritual incense, and you really like the smell of Shoyeido's brand. Going to the incense link on the Enchanted Works site, you find three different Shoyeido powdered incense, Lotus Leaf, Prayer, and Satori. You do a Google search on Lotus Leaf and find that it is sacred to Isis, your Matron Goddess. You also find that it is a herb of concentration, protection and purification. Since Ostara is such a welcoming Sabbat, and since you wish Isis to provide protection for the Spring and Summer months, and since a bit of concentration can never hurt, you decide on Lotus Leaf Ritual Incense, and off you go.
Now, do you need to go through checking out each "flavor" of Wiccan ritual incense before you start a ritual? Of course not. It is perfectly acceptable to say, "I choose this ritual incense because it smells fabulous and makes me feel good." It is also just as valid to say, "I choose to use NO incense at all because John or Jane is sensitive to it, and I wouldn't want to risk it." It is also acceptable to carefully research every aspect of the ritual incense to ensure it is in strict conformity with the Deity you wish to contact, the phase of the Moon, and your ritual Intention. If you desire to go into that amount of detail, you will learn a favulous amount of information about ritual incense and its uses. The only point is that it is not NECESSARY to do this in order to perform an effective and useful ritual.
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