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Using Incense Burners
For centuries, incense has been used for many different purposes. Although not certain, historians and archeologists believe that incense actually began as fire when primitive man would use various types of woods to start fires. However, chances are that they discovered some woods had a more fragrant and pleasing aroma than others. We do know from unearthed artifacts that incense was used in virtually every culture.
Sometimes incense was used for medicinal purposes, sometimes in religious ceremonies, and then other times, for shaman practices. Although hard to determine the exact origin, we do know that incense and using incense burners is a longstanding tradition that continues on today. Interestingly, many myths revolve around the use of incense. Again, when incense first appeared, it was in the form of chopped up herbs, raw wood, powders, pastes, oils, and liquids. Then, the Japanese created the incense cone that led to what we see burned in incense burners today in the form of joss sticks.
Although we know, the cones showed up in Chicago at the World’s State Fair in the late 19th century, the creation of the joss stick is not as concrete. Regardless, most types of incense used today are set into incense burners where the aroma of the smoke wafts through the room. Now, keep in mind that incense and herbalism go hand-in-hand. In fact, most incense is a blend of different herbs, all designed to burn. Even so, not all of the herbs used have known healing properties. For example, incense and herbalism was very strong in the Indian Vedas, often used for religious and magical purposes leading to healing.
As different herbs have been used to create incense, the result is both wonderful fragrance as well as healing properties. Take lavender for example, this particular flower creates peace and tranquility. In ancient times, incense was broken down into five categories that included:
1. Ether - Star Anise (fruit)
2. Water - Aloeswood, Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Myrrh, Borneol, and Cassia (stems and branches)
3. Earth – Vetivert, Ginger, Turmeric, Valerian, Spikenard, and Costus Root (roots)
4. Fire – Clove (flower)
5. Air – Patchouli (leaves)
To hold incense, incense burners are used, which also come in many forms. Interesting, a pair of incense burners was discovered from the Yuan Dynasty during the early part of the 14th century, beautiful and a definite treasure. Even today, you can find a number of old Indian or Asian incense burners through online auctions such as eBay. However, there are modern options as well, some very beautifully adorned with faux jewels and some whimsical, in the shape of frogs, turtles, fish, and so on. Just be sure you choose an incense burner that is specifically designed for the type of incense you like to burn for safety purposes, as well as keeping the ashes from falling to the floor.