Arts & Culture / Mosaic / February 18, 2010

Incense workshop: a raw experience

The Pagan Student Alliance’s incense dipping workshop was a new twist on last year’s. Winter term 2010 provided an opportunity to make incense from scratch. The Pagan Student Alliance held a two-day workshop in the Center for Intercultural Life on February 12 and 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Club president sophomore Emily Berarducci said last year’s incense dipping workshop was popular but she was more interested in the actual process of working with raw materials to make the final product. Berarducci started working with incense two years ago with a friend from Colorado. Berarducci spoke of carrying the experience over to Knox.

“I know friends who [make incense] and do it myself. I decided, ‘Why not?’” she said.

She said incense is relaxing and smells good, which can be appealing to students. Incense also has the potential for ritual use. For instance, certain herbs and resins have correspondences associated with an element, planet, or certain qualities such as purification. Another advantage to using raw materials, Berarducci said, is to make the experience more personal.

“People can make incense for a personal or spiritual intent and desire instead of buying it premade,” she said.

A couple of participants chose to follow a recipe from one of the books provided at the workshop, but there was such a variety of herbs and resins required that sometimes it was hard to do so. One of the participants chose to make an Egyptian and Isis incense.

On the first day of the workshop, students ground a mixture into a powder-like consistency and allowed it to sit overnight. The next day, students could either make non-combustible incense or a powder to be tossed over an open fire with Makko, an environment-friendly alternative to charcoal. They could also make combustible incense by forming the mixture into either pellets or cones.

Zoe Hatton


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