Magical Incenses used in Witchcraft

Witches today use magical incense in the same fashion as the practitioners of the occult arts have used them for centuries.  One of these practices, such as the use of magical incenses that correspond to the seven classical planets, seems to be used for the same purposes today as they once were. In this blog, I will share with you educational references and resources that can further aid in your exploration of this very topic.

Incense Burning outdoors near the central Baalfire of the ritual site. This ritual was performed by the Wolfa Coven at a Grand Coven ritual.

One of the traditional methods of using ceremonial blends of incense has a tremendously long history.  Many of the old books of magic discuss recipes, formulas, exorcisms and conjurations of the charcoal fire used to burn incenses and also many times, recipes and conjurations used to make these special incenses.

Incenses that correspond to the seven classical planets seem to be the most widely discussed. These old workbooks of magic discuss how the proper ingredients blended into incense would attract the necessary spiritual intelligences that corresponded with the desired outcome that was wished for.  A great deal of careful blending seems to be recommended, along with very careful consecrations and ritual to obtain the results that these spells had to offer.  Because of the intense concentration required, it is no wonder these old grimoires of magic continue to inspire people today.

One thing that I was taught that seems to be universal to many witches I have met is the old statement that “Witches make do.”  So while we may not always follow the old grimoires to the very letter, witches are known to adapt and “make do” with what they are able to do and obtain. Most of the time, this is because we wish to craft with safe ingredients. There are some old recipes that used drugs that are illegal to grow or purchase in their ingredients that we would never use today in casting spells.

The incenses that were recommended were formulas relating to the seven classical planets:  Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn.  Each is said to have herbs, resins and what-not that are said to attract the correct spirits and banish spirits that would be against the operations that are undertaken.  The desire to attract the correct spirits and banish the bad spirits can be found in many of the exorcisms performed in ritual today and for centuries past.  For example, take this snippet of a consecration found in the Greater Key of Solomon which during the exorcism says, “…deign to bless this odoriferous incense so that it may receive strength, virtue, and power to attract the Good Spirits, and to banish and cause to retire all hostile Phantoms.  Through Thee, O Most Holy Adonai, Who livest and reignest unto the Ages of Ages.” (1)

The exorcism of the charcoal on which the incense shall be burnt is also recommended.  An example of one of these exorcisms may also be found in the K.O.S. (Greater Key of Solomon) as well and begins with, “I exorcise thee, O Creature of Fire” and after the sacred names are sounded to let the spirits know that you have spiritual authority for the act; the conjuration ends with, “that thou mayest enlighten the hearts of all the Spirits which we shall call unto this circle, so that they may appear before us without fraud and deceit…..” (1)  {further instructions can be found in the Key of Solomon, through which many editions have been printed for a very long time.}

Other grimoires also have variations of these same things.  An example of this would be A.E. Waite’s book The Book of Black Magic & Pacts (a compilation of many grimoires including the Black Pullet, the Heptameron, Grimoire of Pope Leo, K.O.S., Lesser K.O.S. and many, many others) has a version of the exorcism:  “vouchsafe to bless and sanctify these creatures, of whatsoever species they may be, so that they may obtain virtue and power to discern good spirits from bad, even phantoms and enemies, through Thee O Adanay, who livest and reignest for ever and ever.” (2)

Many of the old grimoires have very specific recipes for the blending of the incenses for each of the seven days. An example of this can be found in Raphael’s Ancient Manuscript of Talismanic Magic.  For the incense of the Sun, Raphael’s recommends:

“The perfume to be perfect, ought to be composed of Saffron, the wood of aloes, the wood of Balsam, of Myrrh, the 6th part of an ounce, add to it a gram of Musk and Ambergrise, the whole pulzerized and mixed together, after this, it is made into small seeds which you shall use on Sunday.” (3)

Incense rising from the altar at the Lammas Harvest Festival – Wolfa Coven.

Another example of this can be found in a wonderful French grimoire from 1870 by Paul Christian titled, The History and Practice of Magic also gives incense recipes for each of the planetary talismans listed as well.  For example, for the Talisman of the Sun:

“The consecration of the talisman consists in exposing it to the fumes of a scent composed of cinnamon, frankincense, saffron and red sandalwood, which is burned with laurel and dried heliotrope stalks in an earthenware vessel.  The talisman is then placed in a sachet of pale yellow silk, hung on the breast.” (4)

This book is a wonderful text that was even prized by H.P. Blavatsky!  My own edition of this book was edited and revised by Ross Nichols; who at one time became a well-known leader of the Ancient Druid Order.

I’ve always wondered where we were able to obtain the knowledge of which plant corresponds to which planet.  It is possible this came through the concept of the Doctrine of Signatures or Paracelsus?  Later on when Culpepper’s Herbal came about, it also listed each herb corresponding with the planetary correspondence.

For those interested in Culpepper’s Herbal, I highly recommend a book by Sybil Leek called, Herbs: medicine & mysticism, including comprehensive herb encyclopedia. (Published in 1975)  In this work, with the help of fellow astrologer Glen A. Hilken, they created this book in order to “bridge the gap between Culpepper’s astrological classification and the escalating interest in both astrology and herbs that we are undergoing today.” (5)

At the back of Sybil’s book you have a listing by state of where you can obtain the herbs you may be looking for, including a listing for The Rosemary House which is a local herb shop here in Pennsylvania that is near and dear to us and still open and going strong today.

Another great shop that is local to our coven is Moon Raven Alley – owned by two wonderful Initiates and Priestesses of the Wicca, located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

However these astrological classifications came about, they have stood the test of time and are still referred to today.

What about these classical incenses for the modern witch?

During one of our recent coven rituals, one of the workings performed was for the consecration of a Solar Talisman for a Probationer of our coven.  The incense used, of course, was one of a Solar variety. She requested that a healing be performed and it was thought that a talisman would be best at this time for its long-term effect – to allow the force of the coven to constantly be at work for her as long as the talisman is in use. The Planetary Square of the Sun was placed in a magical triangle and the metal talisman was suspended overtop of the square.  During the spellcasting, strong conjurations were made to throw out all phantasm that would be harmful or impede the working, and then the spirits of the Solar Orb within the Aether all around us were summoned and constrained to perform the healing work that we wished to effect.   At the end of the ceremony after peace declared between us and the spirits, she was then able to wear the talisman to carry forth the effect that the talisman was designed to do now that this solar talisman was consecrated and sanctified for the purposes of healing.

Strong conjurations and talismanic magic is but one of many methods of performing the work we wish to enact. These incenses are not just made for ceremonial talisman work and conjurations, but for any other work that a witch may wish to do.

Some examples of planetary incenses would be:

  1. The incense corresponding to the Sun might be used for healing, riches and even special favors and honor. Success of all kinds. Healing is favored with this incense. The archangel is Michael. 
  2. The incense corresponding to the Moon might be used at the Full Moon to honor the Great Mother Goddess, when performing a Drawing Down of the Moon, at the New Moon for special wishes or even for psychic visions. The archangel is Gabriel. 
  3. The incense for Mars may be used for protection against enemies or attack, and also for any types of work related to machinery. The archangel is Samuel. 
  4. The incense corresponding with Mercury could be used for any form of divination. Mercury is the ruler of communication, and would be especially effective when doing any psychic readings of any kind. The archangel is Raphael. 
  5. The incense corresponding with Jupiter might even be used for any type of expansion – expanding current successes or encourage growth. Since it is associated with expansion, you must remember a magical key to Jovial energy: it only expands on what you already currently have. The archangel is Sachiel. 
  6. The incense corresponding with Venus could be used for any works of attraction of many kinds or to even attract love. The archangel is Anael.
  7. The incense corresponding to Saturn might be used to impede an enemy from doing harm, or to bring rewards for hard work, which is why it rules real estate, agriculture and farming. The archangel is Cassiel.

The methods of spellcasting when using Incenses of the Seven Planets are vast! The formulary I use most often to make planetary incenses comes from a book by one of my Elders, Tarostar, called “The Spiritual Worker’s Handbook.” (7)

Witches also make incenses formulated to specific magical purposes as well, depending on what is needed to be done. These are highly prized and have names such as: Cleopatra Incense, Healing Incense, Attraction Incense, etc., etc.

If at all possible, it is recommended that you cast your personal spells during the correct planetary hour and day.  If you are not certain how to do this, a great book you can refer to is The Magic Candle (6) by Charmaine Day.  She was a friend of the late Sybil Leek and one of the founding Elders of the Sacred Pentagraph.  While the book is focused on candle magic specifically, the instructions for casting your spells and doing candle work are excellent!  If you want an extended list of what each of the Planetary Incenses can be used for, or what spells would be appropriate in the correct planetary hour, Charmaine has pretty lengthy lists of what is most appropriate.  It is a highly recommended little booklet for practitioners of witchcraft and hoodoo as well!

Overall, the occult tradition of using planetary incenses is alive and well, just as it has been for hundreds of years for the modern witch, sorcerer or any practitioner of the occult arts.

Blessed Be!

Bibliography & Works Cited:

  1. Laurence, L.W. de; The Greater Key of Solomon, The de Laurence Company, Inc. Chicago, IL. 1914. Print.
  2. Waite, Arthur Edward; The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts, The de Laurence Company, Inc. Chicago, IL. 1910, 1940. Print.
  3. Raphael; Raphael’s Ancient Manuscript of Talismanic Magic, The de Laurence Company, Inc. Chicago, IL. 1916. Print.
  4. Christian, Paul; The History and Practice of Magic, The Citadel Press. New York, NY. 1969. Print.
  5. Leek, Sybil; Herbs: medicine & mysticism, including a comprehensive herb encyclopedia, Henry Regnery Company. Chicago, IL. 1975. Print.
  6. Dey, Charmaine; The Magic Candle, Original Publications. Old Bethpage, NY. 1982. Print.
  7. Tarostar; The Spiritual Worker’s Handbook, International Imports. Toluca Lake, CA. 1985. Print.

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