(or 'Smells and Spells')

by LW


Most people would probably think of incense as plant materials which you burn and which smell nice or produce a pleasant atmosphere. Well, that is part of the equation, but my own definition is that incense is any combustible material (not just plants) which when burnt releases energy to create a specific effect in the physical world. Whether or not it produces a pleasant scent is not really the issue, although this may make the experience more enjoyable. For the magician, creating and burning one's own incense can be a powerful component of any act of magick, and as always, it is the intent and will of the practitioner which are of prime importance. In other words, knowing what result you want and which substances correspond to that particular set of energies.

How it Works When we smell something, the scent molecules are carried directly to the limbic system, one of the oldest parts of the brain, which is connected with emotions and memory, as well as being associated with hormone production and some instinctive aspects of behaviour. This is why smelling a particular scent can trigger off memories originating as far back as early childhood. For most animals, scent is the primary mode of communication and has a major influence on behaviour, including reproductive activity. When cats, dogs and many other mammals meet, even if they know each other intimately, they always have to sniff to make sure they really recognise the other animal, and they can smell emotions such as fear and aggression in each other and in humans.

Our ancestors would have had a highly developed sense of smell in order to hunt prey or avoid predators, and to sniff out which plants were good to eat. And they would have been much more in tune with their environment psychically than we are today, so they would have been able to distinguish which plants were allies and which were to be avoided. Today this ability has largely atrophied, but scents still influence us on an emotional and instinctual level. This is even reflected in the language - if we don't like something we say it 'stinks'; we may aim for the 'sweet smell of success' or even the 'odour of sanctity'.

So incense has an obvious connection to other subjects relating to sense of smell - to herbalism, aromatherapy, perfume, and even food. In fact, the word 'perfume' is derived from Latin per fumum - 'through smoke' - indicating that it developed from incense burning.

What it Does Any magickal act, ritual, meditation or everyday activity can be enhanced by the appropriate incense. Here are just a few examples:

* to connect to deities, archetypes, the higher self, HGA, angels, demons, nature spirits and any other kind of entity

* to cleanse and purify the atmosphere and raise vibrations

* to enhance the emotions (by either calming or stimulating)

* to help promote personal qualities such as courage, love, etc.

* healing

* creativity

* seasonal festivals

* for workings based on other cultures or historical periods - Egyptian, Babylonian, etc.

* for connection to planets, astrological signs, the elements

* whatever else you want to do.

There is even a type of divination, called libanomancy, in which incense burning is used as a divination tool. Signs are read from the sounds made by burning various seeds in the incense, and by the shapes formed by the smoke.


As indicated above, incense ingredients need not be limited solely to the plant world. Throughout history, various animal and mineral ingredients have also been added to the mixture. Some of the main components are shown below:

Plants - herbs, resins, oils, spices, flowers, seeds, wood, bark, roots, balsams, dried fruit and nuts, even cocoa.

Animals - ambergris, civet, musk. These are almost impossible to find these days, and in any case would be horribly expensive, as well as raising animal rights issues. Synthetic versions are available. Other ingredients such as onycha (a type of shellfish) and honey have also been used.

Minerals such as lapis lazuli, amber, emeralds, quartz, and coral; metals such as iron; salt, and sulphur.

Alcohol - wine and absinthe have been used, and other types of alcohol would also be suitable.

Anything else that will burn.

A word about poisonous plants. Many old recipes use exciting but unfortunately dangerous substances such as henbane, belladonna or hellebore, which cannot be recommended unless you fancy a one-way trip to the Underworld or unless you are an expert user. However, if you want to work with the spiritual essence of the plant, without suffering any unfortunate side effects, vibrational plant essences are available. I have used them and they do seem to work, although on a subtle level. You won't get high, but you also won't die. (Perhaps you'll fly?) You may be able to get similar results from the Bach flower essences and similar types, but I have not yet tried these. Just don't add too much, or the incense will be damp and difficult to burn.

For those wanting to grow their own, psychoactive plants from the Americas and elsewhere can be obtained from Gnostic Garden, although many of these may be difficult to grow in our lovely climate. Some nurseries also supply European herbs such as mandrake, briony, nightshade and other interesting types. (See addresses at end.)

Vibrational animal essences are also available for when you run out of eye of toad, wing of bat, etc. I have not used these in incense yet, but have found them very effective when taken orally. They could be added to any incense, oil or tea used for working with animal spirits, or to assimilate the qualities of that animal e.g. snake for Underworld journeys, eagle for connection to higher self, dolphin for joy and playfulness, and so on. Another possibility is gem elixirs.

Natural vs Synthetic

Synthetic oils can be a useful substitute for those which are too expensive to consider (e.g. labdanum) or difficult to obtain, or which may involve animal rights considerations (e.g. ambergris). There are many artificial floral scents which can add a suitable fragrance to an incense, but which of course do not have the authentic vibration of the genuine substance itself. It all depends on how much of a purist you want to be, or whether you are sensitive enough to be able to detect the difference in effect. (And if you've never smelled the real thing, how will you know?) If it is close enough to evoke the real substance in your mind, and all the associations connected with that substance, then that is probably adequate for most purposes.


Whole books have been written on this subject (for example, The Complete Incense Book by Suzanne Fischer-Rizzi) but all we have space for here is a quick tour through some of the main incense-using cultures of the past. A few of the main ingredients used by each of these have been included, to give some ideas of what to use to create incenses with a particular cultural 'flavour'.

Incense has been used in very similar ways throughout human history, and everywhere it was regarded primarily as a means of communicating with the Gods or spirits via the fragrant smoke wafting to the heavens. Its origin probably goes back to the discovery of fire, when our distant ancestors must have discovered that burning particular woods not only created pleasant scents but also produced specific effects. Incense cakes have been found in Scandinavian graves dating to around 7,000 BC. Tribal shamans all over the world were well versed in the use of plants to enhance consciousness, for otherworld travelling and healing. In those times, much of Europe was covered by forest, so evergreens such as pine, larch and spruce would have been extensively used, along with other plants still in use today.

Fragrant woods and resins, including frankincense, have been found in Celtic burials, and the Celts'

reverence for the plant world is expressed in their calendar, with every month having its own tree (Ogham).

The Babylonians were experts in the use of incense, and an incense made of calamus (a type of reed), cedar and myrrh is mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh (around 2,000 BC). They were also probably the first people to assign astrological correspondences to plants. They used huge amounts of incense in their religious rites - Herodotus says 29 tons of frankincense were burned on the altars of Baal Marduk each year. Other substances favoured in Mesopotamia included cedar, cypress, labdanum (a type of rock rose), myrtle, galbanum and storax.

In Egypt, the art of incense and perfume making reached a very high level of sophistication, and was an integral part of religious and daily life. Thoth was the God associated with incense, so he might be a good one to cultivate if you need some help. Scenes from Egyptian tomb art include those showing incense being burned during religious or funerary rites. The famous kyphi was composed of 16 substances, this being the square of the four elements, so doubly potent. Ra was offered resins at sunrise, myrrh at noon and kyphi in the evening, as it was believed to creatve a peaceful atmosphere and to promote sleep. Fragrant substances such as myrrh were used in the embalming process, and flowers and other aromatic plants were often placed in coffins. Incense was widely employed in divination, oracles and healing; some of the recipes used can be found in the Leyden Magical Papyrus. Other substances used in Egyptian incense included frankincense, opoponax, lotus, labdanum, benzoin, cinnamon, mastic, cedar, juniper, galbanum, storax, calamus, sandwood, henna, spikenard and coriander.

Incense burning was also widely practised in Greece and Crete. The Greeks believed that all aromatic plants were gifts from the Gods. From the Babylonians they developed a system of astrological correspondences. When plague broke out in Athens, huge amounts of juniper were burned to prevent it from spreading. They also practised a form of sleep therapy in temples, where appropriate incenses were burned.

The fragrances of Crete were renowned throughout the ancient world. One of the most famous was

labdanum, a type of rock rose (cistus) with a complex scent, which is still used in the perfume industry today. (The real thing costs around £90 an ounce, but a synthetic version is available.) Other incenses included mastic, coriander, anise, quince, mugwort, chamomile, lavender, and of

course the famous dittany of Crete. This magickal plant is still used in divination incenses today.

The home of frankincense and myrrh was the Arabian Peninsula, from whence its use spread throughout the ancient world. When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon, the Bible says she brought precious spices with her, and the production of beautiful fragrances was an important part of life in the Middle Eastern area. The Prophet Mohammed was especially fond of fine fragrancesand the Sufis classified them according to their spiritual properties. They considered the rose to be the 'mother of fragrances' and ambergris the 'father'. (There is some confusion here, as ambergris in this context could also refer to certain types of resin.) Such was the importance given to perfumes that one famous mosque in Iran had musk incorporated into its mortar when it was built.

Perfumes and incenses are often mentioned in the Bible, and the Jews gained much of their knowledge from their years in Egypt and Babylon. The Bible says God instructed Moses in the use of storax, onycha, galbanum and frankincense. And of course, the three Wise Men, who were probably Babylonian, brought the infant Jesus gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold, showing how much value was placed on these substances. Later on, Mary Magdalene anointed his feet with ointment made of spikenard, another very expensive herb. Jesus was also given myrrh before his crucifixion, and the custom arose of giving it in wine to condemned men before their execution - it has a sedative effect. Myrrh is still connected with death and mourning today.

India, the 'Mother of Fragrances', has an ancient tradition of incense burning and perfume making, which form an important part of Hindu rituals. One of the most important and popular scents is sandalwood, which is also a component of Ayurvedic medicine. Other incenses include myrrh, elemi, benzoin, dammar, cinnamon and dragon's blood.

In Tibet, medicinal incense making reached a high level of sophistication, with specific mixtures for different diseases. One unusual ingredient used was peacock feathers, a symbol of transformation, and owl and crow feathers could also be added. Powdered stones such as lapis lazuli, ruby and turquoise could also be included in the mixture. Other ingredients included rhododendron, which was believed to be beneficial to the heart and the emotions, cedar, costus (a type of thistle-like plant), juniper, ginger and galangal.

In China, a method of telling the time was developed according to how long marked incense sticks took to burn. Favourite substances included sandalwood, honeysuckle, cedar and patchouli.

In Japan, the tradition of using fragrances was initiated by the Zen Buddhists, and was elevated to the level of a high art form combined with religious significance. Starting in around the 11th century, incense making competitions were a favourite pastime of the nobility, and the subtleties of different fragrances for the different seasons were especially appreciated. In the 14th century, ko-doh, the Way of Fragrance, was developed, with the aim of spiritual refinement. During special ceremonies, fragrances were often combined with the appreciation of literary texts, a practice which caused different areas of the brain to be stimulated at the same time. These rituals were based on a similar philosophy to that expressed in the tea ceremony and ikebana. There was even a special breathing technique to allow the maximum benefit to be obtained from inhaling the incenses, and games were also devised to enhance the process.

In the 16th century, the 10 Virtues of the Koh were formulated as follows:

1. Incense burning opens us to the transcendental.

2. Incense burning cleanses our spirit.

3. Incense burning cleanses and clarifies our spirit of worldly blindness.

4. Incense burning makes us attentive.

5. Incense burning is a friend and companion in times of loneliness.

6. Incense burning brings peace and reflection during a hectic day.

7. Incense burning never loses its value, even if used often.

8. Even with a small amount of incense, we will experience satisfaction.

9. Incense-burning substances never lose their effectiveness, even when stored over a long


10. Even if used daily, incense burning never does harm.

Incense burning as a metaphor for the transience of human life is summed up in a Zen Buddhist saying that our breath is like incense smoke, while the incense material itself is reduced to ashes like a body on the funeral pyre.

Some of the incenses favoured by the Japanese include agar wood, sandalwood, Japanese anise, cinnamon, cloves, Borneo camphor, musk and ambergris.

In the New World, completely different substances were used depending on the local flora, but the purposes remained the same. The Native American Indians used incense in healing ceremonies, in their sweat lodges, for initiation, sacred dances, during council meetings, in naming ceremonies, and even cleansed their horses with it before undertaking long journeys. They used feathers to fan the incense, and each species of feather had a symbolic significance. The sacred pipe ritual is one form of incense burning, which consisted of a number of sacred herbs apart from tobacco. They also used different types of sage, which are different from the European varieties. Other herbs used included a North American variety of juniper, desert mugwort, and yerba santa (mountain balm).

In South America, Mexican and Peruvian priests received incense recipes from the Gods after taking hallucinogenic plants, including various types of mushrooms. Different fragrances represented different colours, sounds, stars and stones. Incense prescriptions for the sick were designed according to the person's horoscope and a complex calendar system. Pillows stuffed with herbs were used to induce prophetic dreams. Plants used included copal ('Mexican frankincense') various types of balsam, boldo and tonka beans. Pipiltzintzintli, or diviners' sage, was used to promote visions and awareness of cosmic energies. Zacatechichi (dream herb) was used for divination and taken before going to bed to induce prophetic dreams.

Back in Europe, after the introduction of Christianity, incense was banned from church for 200 years as it was considered a heathen custom. However, Constantine the Great re-introduced the use of frankincense and it is still widely used today. In the Middle Ages, beads made from incense grains were a popular adornment. Later on, pomanders, from French pomme d'ambre ('apple of amber') were introduced. Apart from frankincense, church incense today includes such substances as rose oil, benzoin, sandalwood and cinnamon.

My 'Top 13'

There are thousands of ingredients that can be used, and everyone will have their own favourites, depending on personal inclination. This 'Top 13' is based on those I personally have found most useful, and those for which I feel a personal affinity. Most incense users would probably agree on the first three - the rest are a matter of personal opinion.

1. Frankincense - probably the basic incense substance, and an excellent base which mixes well with a large number of other ingredients. Cleanses, purifies, raises the vibrations for any type of ritual, meditation or spiritual work and generally enhances spiritual awareness. Drives away negativity and raises the spirits.

2. Myrrh - combines superbly with frankincense. Has similar uses, but also associated with death and mourning, so good if you want to get rid of something or celebrate its passing.

3. Sandalwood - strengthens any incense it is added to. Induces a peaceful, meditative atmosphere for scrying, divination and other psychic work. Calms the emotions. An excellent base for most incenses and goes particularly well with frankincense.

4. Dragonsblood - increases the power of incenses and raises the energy level. Adds 'oomph' to any incense but has a fiery Martian nature which will not be suitable for all purposes; a very active type of energy. Good for protection, purification, shape shifting, astral projection, cleansing ritual tools.

4. Lavender - Cleanses, purifies, bring inner stillness and peace. Relieves depression. Helps focus the mind. Paradoxically, it has been used in love incenses but is also supposed to promote chastity.

5. Mugwort - one of the prime herbs for divination, scrying, clairvoyance, dreams and astral travel.

6. Cedar oil - has a lovely woody aroma. For healing, purification and consecration, prosperity and success, but also has some funerary connotations. Cypress oil has similar properties, and could be substituted.

7. Oak - steadfast masculine energy which can also be used as base in appropriate incenses. Connects the three worlds so can be used for shamanic journeying. Has qualities of persistence, endurance, healing, fertility, prosperity, courage and the inner strength to overcome opposition.

8. Dittany of Crete - spirit manifestation, divination, astral projection. Venusian in nature.

9. Mandrake - one of the most magickal plants of all! For contacting other planes of existence, exorcisim, creativity, visions, protection, fertility, love, magick, prosperity, psychic development. Adds power to any incense.

10. Sage - Purification, cleansing of the aura and magickal tools, wisdom, protection, immortality.

11. Wormwood - Divination, scrying, psychic powers, summoning spirits, banishes negativity.

12. Thyme - warrior herb; promotes courage and is also helpful for purification, protection, healing and psychic powers.

13. Acacia gum (gum arabic) - another good base for many incenses. Goes especially well with sandalwood. Good for meditation, clears and stimulated the mind and has a regenerative energy.

Sources of Supplies

1. The obvious route - buy them. This is the easiest and in fact the only way to get some incense ingredients. The disadvantages are:

i cost

ii bought ingredients are unlikely to have been collected with due respect and care, and may be quite old, so are unlikely to be as potent as those you collect yourself. Some reliable suppliers I have used are listed at the end.

2. Pick your own. If you're lucky enough to own a garden, or even if you only have space for a few plant pots, you can easily grow many ingredients yourself. Also, bear in mind that many 'normal' garden plants make ideal incense ingredients e.g. roses, daffodils, iris, lily of the valley, daisies, fern, forget-me-not, foxgloves, honeysuckle, lavender, lilac, marigold, poppies, primroses, St John's wort, Solomon's seal, sunflower, violet, wisteria to name a few. Even those much-despised weeds such as dandelion, chickweed, clover, and even bindweed, have an honourable place in the incense repertoire. And there are dozens of trees and shrubs such as apple, cherry, elderberry, holly, juniper, oak, pine, hawthorn or willow which can provide materials. A walk in the country can supply a huge variety of other ingredients.

When collecting plants, of course, the usual magickal protocols apply. Only take what you need, ask the plant's permission first and never take more than say 25% of what is on offer. It's also a good idea to leave a small gift as a token of payment - perhaps a little water, or you could clear away rubbish or encroaching weeds.

3. Raid your kitchen cupboard. Many common cooking herbs and spices make excellent incense ingredients. Useful ones include sage, thyme, cinnamon, caraway, cloves, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, garlic, mustard seeds, and many more.

Plants should be dried away from direct sunlight to retain their potency (I usually dry them for a lunar month just for the symbology) and should always be stored in glass or ceramic containers. Do not use plastic as this will leach into the herbs and cause contamination.

Chelsea Physic Garden is well worth visiting - they have an excellent collection of medicinal and poisonous herbs, trees and flowers from around the world, including interesting ones such as henbane, mandrake and datura.

Types of Incense

There are several different types of incense you can make at home, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

1. Loose incense. The type we all know and love. It's the easiest to make, but it burns too quickly to be very useful for continuous burning in rituals or meditations, the charcoal can be uncooperative to light and you can be left with an unpleasant burnt smell if it's left for too long.

2. Cones and cylinders. These are also quite easy to make, but for best results ingredients need to be finely powdered. These are made by combining a base, such as sandalwood, with resins, oils and a binder (usually tragacanth). I have made some and so far they work very well. These burn for longer than loose incense and, as they don't require charcoal, are a lot cleaner. They do need to be dried for a few days before use, and can sometimes be difficult to burn unless you add saltpetre. Details of how to make this kind of incense are given in some of the books listed at the end.

3. Stick incense. This favourite of old hippies everywhere can also be home-made, but is a lot tricker. You need very thin sticks and a strong binder to stop the mixture falling off. I have not tried this yet.

4. Powder. You can also make incense by reducing all the ingredients to a fine powder and then lighting it without charcoal. This is also an advanced technique which I have not yet personally tried.

5. Incense papers. These are made by soaking blotting paper in a solution of saltpeter and then adding a herbal tincture. They also have the advantage of not needing charcoal and are supposed to burn slower than loose incense. Again, I have not tried these as yet.

Make Your Own

Equipment. Only the most basic equipment is needed. The one really indispensible item is a good-sized mortar and pestle for bashing up lumps of resin and other tough materials. A blender or food processer with a nut grinder attachment is also very useful for pulverising ingredients (but be careful you don't wreck it on anything too hard).

Apart from that, all you need is a few bowls for mixing purposes, measuring spoons of various sizes and a container to burn the final product in. There are lots of fancy incense burners around which look nice, but really all you need is something reasonably heatproof. Placing a layer of sand or pebbles under your charcoal is a good idea. Tweezers for picking up the charcoal and a large feather for fanning are useful but not essential.

Colour. Adding colour to your incense is a further refinement you may wish to consider. You can add a few drops of food colouring or materials of a suitable colour e.g. sandalwood or dragonsblood for red, indigo for blue, charcoal for black, or appropriately coloured flower petals.

Correspondences. As with any magickal working, if you really want to make the most of your incense making, why not treat it as a full-blown ritual and use the art of correspondences? As an example, if you are making solar incense, wear gold or yellow and deck the altar or work surface with sunflowers, marigolds or other yellow flowers, wear gold or amber jewellery, play appropriate music and so on.

Timing. This is another important aspect. For absolute optimum levels of potency, it is recommended that you try to fulfil as many of the following conditions as possible.

1. Relevant planet in its own sign or a favourable one. For instance, if you want to make some love incense, and you can wait long enough, why not do it when Venus is in Libra or Taurus? This will of course only be practical with the faster- moving planets.

2. Waxing moon for increasing energies, waning for decreasing - in appropriate sign where possible.

3. Appropriate day of the week - Monday for Moon matters, Tuesday for martial ones, etc.

4. Correct planetary hour. This is a bit of a chore to work out, and I'm not sure how much influence it really has, but if you want to treat incense making as a bona fide magickal art, then taking the trouble to do it in the correct planetary hour adds another ingredient to the recipe. At the very least, it adds extra amounts of mental energy to the process, which can only be a bonus. The basic details are set out below, but for those who want a fuller explanation, there is an excellent how-to chapter in Planetary Magick by Denning and Phillips.

The basic principles are as follows:

The hours always rotate in a fixed sequence in the order Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, which follows the descending order of the Sephiroth on the Tree of Life. This works out miraculously so that the first hour of each day is attributed to the planet which is the ruler of that day i.e. Moon for Monday, Mars for Tuesday, Mercury for Wednesday, Jupiter for Thursday, Venus for Friday, Saturn for Saturday, Sun for Sunday. But there is an added complication - a planetary 'hour' is really only an hour at the equinoxes.

This is because they are calculated in two stages - from sunrise to sunset, and then from sunset to sunrise the following day. The daylight 'hours' from sunrise to sunset will be longer than 60 minutes during the summer months, and the evening 'hours' from sunset to sunrise will be shorter. The reverse will apply in winter, with the evening 'hours' being longer than 60 minutes.

Calculating the Planetary Hours

1. Find the times of sunrise and sunset.

2. Work out the number of minutes from:

i sunrise to sunset

ii sunset to sunrise the following day.

3. Divide (i) by 12 to find the length of each daylight hour. Once you have this figure, it's simple to work out the length of each night hour without doing a separate calculation. A day and night hour added together will always add up to 120 minutes. So if, for example, a day hour lasts 65 minutes, a night hour must be 55 minutes long.

  1. If you've worked your minutes out correctly, the beginning of the 13th hour will always correspond to sunset. So now you need to start adding the night hours to find the beginning of hour 14, and so on up until hour 24. This should bring you back to the sunrise time again. Of course, you do not always have to work out the timing of each hour. If you want to work during one of the night hours, just calculate from the 13th hour, corresponding to sunset.

This may sound complicated, but in fact you will rarely need to go through the whole 24 hours in order to find a suitable time (and who wants to do a working at 4am?) Each planet will have 3 - 4 slots per day, and one of these will probably be at a convenient time.

Table of Planetary Hours

So, on any given day, the hours of the ruling planet on that day are the 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd. For

maximum effectiveness, any working should ideally be conducted on its own day, in its own hour. But if this is not possible, you can use the correct hour on a different day e.g. the lunar hours on a Tuesday are the 5th, 12th and 19th.

For matters connected with Uranus, use the hours of Mercury, for Neptune the hours of Venus and for Pluto use the hours of Mars.

But as cannot be stressed too fully, if you treat making incense as a magickal activity, it is your intention and your Will that are of prime importance. It's no use slavishly following all the correspondences and timings if your mind is not focused on your magickal goal. And conversely, when you need something now, and you have the mental and emotional focus to will it, it doesn't really matter whether it is the 'right' time or not.


Lists of correspondences for the planets follow for reference purposes. There is no 100% agreement about which plants go with which planet or element, even among people who write books about such matters. Some substances will therefore appear under more than one category. The example used here are not meant to be definitive and consist mainly of commonly accepted correspondences, or those that feel right to me. It's very much a matter of individual experimentation. Poisonous or otherwise dodgy plants are marked *. Vibrational plant or flower essences can be substituted for these if wanted. Where fruits, vegetables, etc are shown, any part of the plant (e.g. leaves, flowers or bark) or oil derived from it, can be used instead.


acacia (gum arabic), angelica, arnica, ash, aspen, bay, benzoin, borage, bromeliad, buttercup, camomile, carnation, cassia, cedar, *celandine, centaury, chrysanthemum, cinnamon, cloves, copal, corn, daffodil, dandelion, eyebright, frankincense, ginseng, goldenseal, gorse, gotu kola, grape(vine), hazel, heliotrope, high John the conqueror, honey, juniper, lemongrass, lovage, marigold, mastic, mistletoe, nasturtium, olive, oak, orange, palm, peony, pineapple, rosemary, rowan, rice, rue, safflower, saffron, sandalwood (red), scarlet pimpernel, sesame, sunflower, St John's wort, storax, tea, tormentil, viper's bugloss, witch hazel, walnut, yellow/orange flowers generally


alecost, aloe, bamboo, barley, breadfruit, buchu, cabbage, calamus, camellia, camphor, chickweed, cleavers, coconut, cotton, cucumber, fir, gardenia, gourd, hibiscus, honesty, jasmine, lemon balm, lettuce, lily, loosestrife, lotus, mango, marshmallow, melon, mesquite, moss, myrrh, papaya, peony, poppy, potato, pumpkin, purslane, reed, rose (white), sandalwood (white), seaweed and other marine plants, snowdrop, turnip, watercress, water lily, water plants generally, white flowers generally, willow, wintergreen


almond, anise, aspen (poplar), bergamot, caraway, clary sage, clover, dill, elecampane, fennel, fenugreek, fern, flax, hazel, horehound, lavender, lemongrass, lemon verbena, licorice, *lily of the valley, mace, mandrake, marjoram, mulberry, oregano, papyrus, parsley, savory (summer and winter), smallage, southernwood, tragacanth, valerian


alder, alfalfa, alkanet, African violet, allspice, almond, ambergris, apple, apricot, aster, avocado,balm of Gilead, banana, barley, bean, birch, *birthwort, blackberry, bleeding heart (dicentra), blueberry, buckwheat, burdock, bugle, cardamom, carnation, catnip, cherry, civit, columbine, coltsfoot, corn, cowslip, crocus, cyclamen, daffodil, daisy, damiana, dittany of Crete, dogwood, elder, feverfew, foxglove, forget-me-not, frangipani, geranium, goldenrod, grains of Paradise, ground ivy, groundsel, heather, henna, herb Robert, hibiscus, hollyhock, hyacinth, iris, ivy, jasmine, lady's mantle, larkspur, lemon verbena, lilac, *lily of the valley, lovage, lucerne, magnolia, meadowsweet, mint, motherwort, mugwort, musk, myrtle, oats, orchid, passionflower, patchouli, peach, pear, pennyroyal, periwinkle, persimmon, plum, pomegranate, primrose, raspberry, red campion, rhubarb, rose, rye, saw palmetto, sandalwood, soapwort, sorrel, spikenard,

strawberry, sugar cane, sweet pea, tansy, teasel, thyme, tonka bean, trillium, tulip, vanilla, vervain, vetivert, violet, wheat, wisteria, wood aloes, wood sorrel, yarrow, *yohimbe


anemone, asafoetida, basil, bearberry (uva ursi), beech, bloodroot, box, *briony, broom, cactus, capers, cascarilla, coriander, cranesbill, cubeb, *cuckoo pint (lords and ladies), cumin, curry leaf, dragonsblood, galangal, garlic, gentian, ginger, gorse, hawthorn, *hemlock, high John the conqueror, holly, hops, horseradish, juniper, leek, madder, menthol, mustard, nettle, onion, pepper, pimento, pine, prickly ash, radish, rhubarb, sarsparilla, shallot, sloe, sneezewort, snapdragon, *squill, tarragon, thistle, toadflax, tobacco, turmeric, Venus' flytrap, woodruff, wormwood, yucca


agrimony, alexanders, asparagus, avens, balm of Gilead, betony, bilberries, borage, chervil, chestnut, chicory, cinquefoil, cloves, dandelion, dock, endive, fig, hemp agrimony, honeysuckle, houseleek, hyssop, linden, liverwort, maple, meadowsweet, mistletoe, nutmeg, oak, olive, psyllium, sage, sassafras, sweet cicely, ti, wood betony


amaranth, asafoetida, beech, beet, *belladonna (nightshade), bindweed, bistort, blackthorn, buckthorn, celery, coffee, comfrey, cornflower, cypress, *datura, dodder, elm, *euphorbia, fumitory, ginseng, gotu kola, ground ivy, hawkweed, heartsease pansy, *hellebore, *hemlock, hemp, *henbane, holly, horsetail, indigo, ivy, kava kava, knapweed, lady's slipper, *lobelia, morning glory, mullein, oakmoss, pine, poplar, quince, sassafras, scammony, shepherd's purse, skullcap, skunk cabbage, slippery elm, Solomon's seal, spikenard, spruce, tamarind, tamarisk, woad, *wolfbane (monkshood), yerba santa, *yew, plants with dark flowers or foliage


amaranth, ash, *belladonna (nightshade), *birthwort, coffee, elecampane, ginseng, *henbane, mandrake, nutmeg, pomegranate, scarlet pimpernel, spikenard, hallucinogens generally, or any plant ruled by Mercury


ambergris, apricot, balmony, cannabis, *datura, lotus, magic mushrooms, marine plants generally, morning glory, mugwort, opium poppy, orchid, passionflower, peyote, skullcap, tobacco, wild lettuce, wisteria, sedatives or narcotics generally, or any plant ruled by Venus


asafoetida, aspen (poplar), basil, bearberry (uva ursi), *belladonna (nightshade), black cohosh, *briony, cypress, damiana, dragonsblood, fern, *foxglove, hops, hyssop, mint, narcissus, nettle, oak, oats, patchouli, pipiltzintzintli (diviner's sage), poppy (red), rye, toadflax, wormwood, wheat, poisonous plants generally, or any plant ruled by Mars


Incense Suppliers (also dried herbs, oils, etc.)

G. Baldwin & Co, 171-173 Walworth Road, London SE17 1RW

tel: 020 7703 5550

New Moon, PO Box 110, Didcot, Oxon OX11 9YT

Incense Magic, 23 Baugh Gardens, Downend, Bristol BS16 6PN

tel: 0117 970 2100


Herbcraft - A Guide to the Shamanic and Ritual Use of Herbs - Susan Lavender and Anna Franklin (Capall Bann)

The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils and Brews }- Scott Cunningham (Llewellyn)

Cunningham's Encylopedia of Magical Herbs }

Wylundt's Book of Incense (Samuel Weiser)

The Complete Incense Book - Suzanne Fischer-Rizzi (Sterling Publishing Co, New York)

Roll Your Own - Carl Neil (available from Mother's Hearth at

Incense: A Practical Sourcebook and Dictionary - Janet E. McCrickard (from Quest magazine, BCM-SCL

Quest, London WC1N 3XX)

The Scented Altar - Katlyn (available from New Moon, see above)

Planetary Magick - Melita Denning & Osborne Phillips (Llewellyn)

Herb Nurseries

Mail order suppliers for plants and seeds your local garden centre won't have (such as henbane, etc.)

Arne Herbs, Limeburn Nurseries, Limeburn Hill, Chew Magna, Avon, BS18 8QW

tel. 01275 333399

The Wild Flower Centre, Church Farm, Sisland, Loddon, Norwich, Norfolk NR14 6EF

tel: 01508 520235

Poyntzfield Herb Nursery, Black Isle, by Dingwall IV7 8LX, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland

tel: 01381 610352

And for more exotic species of psychoactive plants and seeds:

Gnostic Garden, PO Box 242, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 1ED

Vibrational Essences

Green Man Tree Essences, MCS, PO Box 6, Exminster, Exeter EX6 8YE

tel: 01392 832 005

Desert Alchemy, PO Box 44189, Tucson, AZ 85733, USA

fax: 001 520 325 8405

flower essences and planetary formula

Wild Earth Animal Essences, Flower Essence Repertoires Ltd., The Living Tree, Milland, near Liphook,

Hants GU30 7JS

tel: 01428 741 572


Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital Road, London SW3 (Sloane Square tube)

tel: 0171 352 5646

open April-October Wednesday 2-5pm; Saturday 2-6pm