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Ancient Psychoactive Incense and Preparations

For millennia mankind has lived with nature, utilizing the flora and fauna to survive. Over the centuries, through trial and error, they learned which plants were the most nutritious, healthy and beneficial; and consequently they learned which plants possessed unique healing, spiritual and magical properties. Early in antiquity mankind discovered the healing properties and magical qualities of plants like Papaver Somniferum, Cannabis Sativa and fungi like Amanita Muscaria. In addition to directly consuming these magical healing plants they also discovered that many other plants possess psychoactive properties when they were burned and used as part of their sacred ceremonies. Over time and after many trials they discovered that a potent hallucinogenic incense could be made by combining several different plants, resins, bark and roots and that they could enhance the effects by utilizing special breathing techniques.

Although psychoactive incense has been known about and used for thousands of years, there has been very little modern research into their efficacy and historical uses. What is known is that they can have powerful effects on an individual’s psychology, enhance hormonal levels and be a catalyst to truly hallucinogenic experiences. Many people have been able to reach higher states of consciousness through the ceremonial use of these special incense, applying meditative breathing techniques, employing yoga positions and using trance inducing rhythms. By using drums, rattles, chants and deep breathing methods the effects of these ancient incense blends can truly thrust one through the doors of perceptions and into new realms of consciousness.

Currently there are three mechanisms that are believed to cause the hallucinogenic effects of sacred incense blends. These three modes of intoxication can act alone or in combination to produce profound states of experience. 1) The plant material itself contains pharmacologically active compounds that can induce altered states of consciousness. 2) The plant’s fragrance, aroma and smoke closely resemble the structure of neurotransmitters already present in the brain, and therefore act as a catalyst causing higher forms of awareness. 3) The plant’s fragrance, aroma or smoke contains naturally occurring pheromones that transmit messages directly to the brain when they enter sensory organs. Closely related experiments on aromas and brain function have shown that certain smells can trigger powerful reactions in brain function and can induce altered states of consciousness. One commonly experienced example of this is the ability of an aroma to trigger long forgotten memories. Certain essential oils are known to produce extreme inebriation and hallucinations, although their exact physiological mechanisms are not completely understood.

The following list of plants and essential oils that are derived from them is by no mean comprehensive, there are still many other plants that need further study. The following incenses have been known to posses special properties since antiquity: camphor, cedar, cinnamon, cloves, copal, coriander, damiana, juiper, laurel, lignum aloe, mugwort, rosemary, sade tree, salvia. Some of the active constituents of these essential oils are eugenol, ledol, myristicin, safrole, and thujone.

Pheromones are naturally occurring compounds that are closely related to hormones. They are produced by almost every living creature in every kingdom, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and even plants and fungi. In the animal world pheromones act as subconscious sexual signals to the opposite sex, they signal virility, health and a strong immune system. They function as sexual attractors for plants and insects as well. Humans produce pheromones in varying degrees throughout their life, to attract potential mates and to signal estrus. Certain aromas produced by plants and fungi are known to closely mimic human pheromones. Vanillin has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac, and recent research into the aromas produced by the vanilla bean have shown that the aromatic fragrances inherent in vanilla are very similar to the structure of human pheromones and has a similar effect on the human nervous system.

There are many plants and fungi that produce pheromones which, structurally, closely resemble human pheromones. These plant and fungi pheromones are known as pheromone analogs, and include: ambergris, balsam, benzoin, cloves, copal, labdanum, rockrose, sandalwood, and storax.

Several recipes for psychoactive incense have been refined and passed down through the generations. Here are several recipes that have proven to be effective.

Bodhanath Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Indian juniper, Balu, Pama, and Shupa.
Sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

Conjuring Spirits Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix:
1 part Salu Henbane
1/4 part cinnamon bark
1/4 part coriander seed
1/4 part fennel root or seed
1/4 part olibanum
Grind the ingredients into a fine powder and sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

“Hadra” Asthma Incense
Hadra was once available in pharmacies throughout Europe, to treat asthma attacks. The ingredients were clearly
established however their proportions were not. Ingredients: Cannabis indica, Datura stramonium, Hyoscyamus niger, Lobelia
inflata, Eucalyptus, Saltpeter, Menthol oil.

Hecate Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Coriander seed, Hemlock root, Henbane, Laurel leaf, Myrrh, Oilbanum, Opium resin, Sandalwood, Storax, and Syrian rue seed.
Sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

Incense for Divining the Future
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Olibanum, Psilocybe cubensis or Psilocybe semilanceata, Salvia Divinorum and a pinch of Parsley root Sprinkle incense onto
glowing charcoal embers.

Incense for Leaving That Which Is Hidden Unknown
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Celery seed, Coriander seed, Henbane, Opium poppy, and Saffron.
Add freshly pressed hemlock juice to the mixture and sprinkle the incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

Mongolian Purification Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Juniper branch, Sade tree, Silver fir, Wild thyme
Sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

Mongolian Shaman Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Juniper branch, Rabbit dung, and Wild thyme
Grind the ingredients into a fine powder and sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

“Pressant” Asthma Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix parts:
4 parts Datura stramonium
3 parts Saltpeter
1.5 parts Gum arabic
1 part Cannabis indica
1/4 part Hyoscyamus niger
1/5 part Anethol
Sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers; smoke is to be inhaled to subdue asthma attacks.

Roman Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Laurel leaf, Juniper branch, Vervain, Salvia Officinalis, and Thyme.
Sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

Spirit-Herb Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Celery, Coriander seed, and Hemlock root.
Sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

Tarahumara Ritual Incense
Thoroughly dry and mix equal parts:
Copal, and Peyote.
Grind the ingredients into a fine powder and sprinkle incense onto glowing charcoal embers.

There are many more preparations that have been lost to time and antiquity. However, the idea of psychoactive incense has piqued the interest of many people and as knowledge of these potent incense spreads more and more options are becoming available on the market.
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A special thanks to Keith for all his support and insight.
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