Most people associate incense with the East - India, Japan, China, and Tibet. When one thinks of incense, the first thing that generally comes to mind is an Eastern sort of atmosphere, with an exotic scent that reminds one of tropical flowers, sandalwood, cloves, herbs, and other exotic spices. This type of incense is absolutely wonderful and can be very healing. However, it is not the only type of incense available on the market. Incense is something that has been used all over the world for thousands of years, and it has been used in the Americas and Europe just as much as it has been in the East, for similar purifying, meditative and religious purposes.
Probably the oldest use of incense in the Americas has been through smudge sticks
, bundles of dried aromatic herbs which are burned slowly to produce a purifying and healing scent. Traditional smudge sticks are generally composed of white sage and sweet grass, although other plants, including cedar, rosemary and lavender can also be used. Smudging is used to cleanse a space and to send prayers to the gods, and certain smudge blends are also used to repel insects. Aromatic plants such as cedar are also often thrown on to ceremonial fires as a way of sending prayers up to the gods in the aromatic smoke.
Another form of incense which has been used in the New World, as well as Europe, for many thousands of years is resin. Resin incenses
such as copal were used regularly by the Mayans, to whom it is sacred. It is said to help souls find their way back to the land of the dead after they visit the earth. Resins such as frankincense have been used in purification as a part of Christian ritual for many thousands of years as well. These days powerful resins such as copal and frankincense can be purchased loose and burned using a censer, or they can be used by way of amazing products known as Resin on a Stick, which binds pure powdered resin to a stick which can be burned to create an incredibly rich aroma. Many resins have very powerful effects on the human mind when their scent is inhaled, and can create a very pure, meditative space when used, so it is no surprise that resins have been a part of religious ritual in the West for many thousands of years.
A final, absolutely lovely form of New World incense are those that are inspired by the lush, natural scents of the woods and aromatic plants that can be found in the Americas. The most popular of these are cedar incenses,
which use pure cedar plant matter and resin to create the magical scent of a cedar forest. There are also many high quality incenses available made completely from balsam, pine and other plants native to the New World. These amazing incenses will help to create a beautiful, natural scent in any space, invoking the experience of being in nature even if you are stuck inside a building in a big city.
So, if you are looking for incense but do not prefer the traditional Eastern scents, or if you are looking for a completely new type of incense to try out, consider looking to incenses inspired by the rituals and the sacred plants of the Americas! You are sure to find something that will help you to create a peaceful, pure and meditative space in a unique and powerful way!