Plant Spirit Runology involves plants in their many forms & uses, but first & foremost I envision it as a form of Folk Medicine. As such, it will be affordable & doable by most.
Nowadays incense is viewed as a form of home fragrance, though an increasing number of people involve incense burning as part of their meditative & spiritual practice (which is one of its intended purposes). You either love it or hate it but mass produced cheap incense is what the ‘haters’ are most familiar with (which has no remaining healing qualities and is quite harmful to one’s health). Incense burning is ancient medicine and as such shouldn’t be an unpleasant experience.
Being familiar with German Räucherwerk still practiced to this day (and I assume that similar practices take place worldwide), I know for a fact that incense is used for healing the body (which is basically the smudging of parts of the body), the psycho-emotional sphere as well as spiritual healing.
The beauty of plants/herbs is that each of them has many uses & applications which go beyond the physical treatment of symptoms as they also affect the emotional, spiritual & energetic fields (something I have experienced over the past 25 years).
While combustible forms of incense such as cones & sticks require some knowledge & mastery in regards to the crafting techniques, there are 3 simple types of incense that anybody can make (even absolute beginners) and that I plan to incorporate in my Runic Curriculum:
- SMUDGE STICKS: these are basically little bundles of herbs that are tied & set to dry for later use. A wide variety of herbs (homegrown & ethically wildcrafted) can be used for making smudge sticks BUT you can pretty much only use leaves, stems & flowers to make these. Barks, roots, pods won’t burn. If properly dried, a smudge stick should burn on its own. The DRUID GARDEN has a couple blog posts that I recommend reading on the topic of smudge sticks: the 1st one explains the basics, the 2nd one goes more in-depth regarding which plants can be used. Of course, it does require some basic herbal knowledge in order to identify the plants.
- LOOSE INCENSE: basically any plant material can go in crafting that type of incense: barks, resins, spices, herbs…you name it. The botanicals can be ground into a fine powder if you wish, though it’s not a necessity. However you need to be aware that loose incense is not combustible on its own, that’s why a charcoal disk is usually required (this not my favorite method because the charcoal imparts a smell and remains awfully hot way after its combustion is over). The German method uses a Räucherpfanne, which is a special incense pan used on the stove. A small cast iron pan set on a low flame will do the trick but does require keeping an eye on the incense.
- ROPE INCENSE: this is a method I have developed, refined & used over the years. It is a bit more involved than the 2 other forms of incense (and there is a bit of ‘magic’ involved in there). It’s a 2 step process: First, you need to create a strongly scented herbal tincture (which CAN’T be used internally). Then, when the tincture is ready, you need to soak some twine until saturation and let it dry. This type of incense is very satisfying and will slowly burn on its own. A little bit goes a long way too. I have some friends in my entourage that are holistic and/or spiritual practitioners and who swears by it!
How does all of this have anything to do with the Runes? In my practice, and from the very beginning, I have understood that the Ancient Tradition of Runic Healing was first and foremost energetic in nature. And energy can be transferred, shifted & transformed…Maybe I should call it Runic Alchemy 😉