Grown in a Witch’s garden, picked at midnight with a silver sickle, mixed 39 times by hand, and so on. Magickal incenses can be a potent, personal tool with infinite variations.
But sometimes you just need an incense that smells good and is in accord with your magickal purposes. An incense that doesn’t require a mortar and pestle, charcoal, or fireproof gloves before you can light up. Sometimes, you’re rushing into the supermarket on the way to a ritual and you need to choose an incense now so you can grab the bean dip and get the hell outta there.
Thinking about just such occasions, I’ve compiled a list of popular incenses that are readily available in stick and cone form. This mini incense almanac owes more to the corner store than to Culpeper. But don’t be fooled: Even in their self-lighting, artificially scented and colored form, the following fragrances have the power to inspire a magickal state of mind.
Here are 20 incense correspondences for the urban Witch or dollar-store Pagan:
Nothing says “temple” like the complex, haunting bouquet of Amber. This blend of resins, musk, and florals is an excellent multi-purpose incense. Use it for wisdom and truth-seeking, as well as rituals of love and desire. Amber corresponds to Air and Fire, though some of the darker versions lean towards Earth. As the components of Amber have been used in sacred rites for thousands of years, it is said to be excellent for past-life recall and initiation rituals.
A traditional incense of Mars, Cinnamon has the advantage of being easy to find in cardboard boxes next to cash registers. Burn Cinnamon incense for protection and personal power. Fiery cleansing is another superpower of Cinnamon incense (when White Sage is just too sweet to do the job). Cinnamon can be used either to inflame passion, or to counter the effects of love spells.
Lemon incense brings a bright, Solar burst of confidence and good luck. Burn it when you need extra energy to accomplish your goals. Orange incense has a similar meaning of joy, good fortune, and prosperity. Orange or Orange Blossom is a traditional incense for happiness in marriage.
What’s a Witch to do with Coconut? This one’s a stumper. The plant usually gets sorted into the Feminine/Lunar domain of divination and love magick. It’s also associated with chastity. (Presumably because the fruit’s so difficult to get inside.) You could use Coconut as a Lunar incense, I guess, if the Walgreens is sold out of Jasmine.
Real Dragon’s Blood is a rare and monstrously expensive tree resin. Drugstore Dragon’s Blood can smell like anything from aftershave to cherry air freshener. (Good ones strike a balance between sweet, spicy, and earthy.) Dragon’s Blood incense is used to empower just about any working. It lends fiery energy to love magick, protection, oath-making, etc. Draconic witches sometimes choose Dragon’s Blood as a general temple incense.
Cedar, Pine, Forest, Misty Mountain—whatever they want to call it, this is the stuff in the green box that smells like Irish Spring. This group of fragrances is used for wisdom, cleansing, and protection. Evergreen incenses are also popular for money magick. It is probably the easiest Jupiter incense to find in a hurry.
If you’re at the incense counter and you only have a handful of coins, you could do worse than to grab the Frankincense. This ancient fragrance will help you to accomplish most magickal aims. Setting sacred space, consecrating tools, offerings to ancestors and deities—Frankincense does all that stuff before lunch. Purification, power, and riches, too, are attributes of Frankincense. Some incense blends balance all that fiery Solar energy with dark, healing Myrrh.
The unapologetically sweet stuff is ideal for rituals of prosperity and seduction. Honey fragrances are used to draw wealth, admiration, and luxury into your life. They are also a good choice for Faery offerings.
Versatile Jasmine is used for meditation and psychic sight, as well as love spells. Jasmine blooms at night and is said to encourage prophetic dreams. A Lunar incense, Jasmine is especially appropriate for New Moon and Full Moon rituals. "Night Queen" incense is Jasmine sexed up with musk or exotic spices—perfect for magick that is both sensual and spiritual.
A cleansing, Airy fragrance, Lavender is a go-to incense for refreshing the body, mind, and home environment. It is used in rites of healing and in meditation. Lavender varies a lot from bracing herbal fragrances to powdery florals. The exact vibration of the Lavender incense will vary based on its aroma, from gentle and soothing to bright and invigorating.
Originally, Musk comes from the rare secretions of mammal reproductive glands. It’s a perfume of Earth. In magick, Musk is used for getting a mate or marking one’s territory (e.g., a mate). Some Musk incenses round off the sharper edges with romantic white florals—which may or may not be what you want for your love magick. In either case, good luck finding one that doesn’t smell like old man cologne.
First blended in India, Nag Champa is now the most popular incense fragrance worldwide. (So it’s certain to be in a display rack near you.) Nag Champa is a wonderful aid to meditation and may be used as a general magickal incense. Its heavenly blend of florals and Sandalwood stimulate spiritual awareness, while helping keep you grounded in the here and now.
Opium incenses are heavy, sweet florals with hints of dark musk and spice. They are supposed to mimic the scent of the fresh opium poppy—but of course, such a thing is so rare that few people have ever smelled one. Opium is well-known for inducing sleep, dreams, and visions. Opium incense may be used for dream and trance magick.
Opium’s dangerous reputation has followed it into the magickal world, where Opium incense has a certain naughty allure. Some Witches use it when seeking forbidden knowledge or consulting with unholy spirits. Opium may stand in as a Saturn incense when you don't want to mess with rare or poisonous Saturn herbs.
Patchouli is famous for masking B.O. and the smell of pot, but that need not be its only legacy. This dark, earthy aroma—love it or hate it—is an exceptional incense for the magick of attraction. Sex and money spells are Patchouli’s best uses.
Usually a mix of watery florals, Rain-type fragrances are ideal for cleansing, healing, and relaxation. The fresh, cool aroma calms anger and helps to make a new start. In a pinch, a Fresh Linen fragrance will do the same thing. Both make fabulous seasonal incenses for Springtime.
A classic lover’s incense. Rose corresponds to Venus, and is used in workings to attract and keep true love. Both romantic love and self-love are boosted by the scent of Rose. Not just a pretty face, the Rose flower has an especially sacred energy and may be used to open the heart and stimulate psychic gifts.
A holy wood renowned in India, Sandalwood consecrates and heals. Its magickal uses include wishes, peace, and removing negativity. It is also used to bless altars and tools and create ritual space. Sandalwood may never be used to curse or compel, but only to empower benevolent magick.
Sugar and Spice
The “Sugar and Spice” family of incenses includes such members as Apple Cider, Christmas Cookie, and Gingerbread. These mouth-watering fragrances can be useful in spells when you want to “sweeten up” a person (or persons). How better to persuade someone than with a tray of freshly prepared delicacies? They evoke generosity, celebration, and pleasure. Alternatively, use them as seasonal incenses for Yuletide.
Another fragrance without an obvious magickal heritage, Vanilla incense can still be useful in the Witch’s pantry. Vanilla is calming and pleasing. It can provoke mental and physical arousal and stimulate good luck. If Vanilla appeals to you, try using it during meditation. Happiness, prosperity, and knowledge-seeking are possible uses for Vanilla incense.
Berry bushes in fruit have an age-old association with the Goddess. Any red berry incense may be used in fertility and love-producing magick. (Cherry, too.) Berries are the great providers of Nature—use berry fragrances to cultivate generosity and sweetness.