Incense has been around so long that no one really knows when, where, or how it originated. It has probably been used almost since humans discovered how to use fire. If you’ve ever sat around a campfire or walked on a winter night when people were burning aromatic wood in their fireplaces or stoves, you might agree that the idea of burning plant materials and resins came from smelling something amazingly good while using a fire for warmth, to cook, or for other purposes. The challenge then would have been to discover what material produced the pleasant odor and isolate it for burning to mask bad odors, for pleasure, or as a ritual.
I’ve always loved incense, and tend to want to try everything that’s available. As a result, I find that I have some favorites and some I don't like as well. Of the sticks, one of my favorites is Nippon Kodo’s Seiun joss sticks in Chrysanthemum scent. However, I have gone more and more to using raw materials on a burner, especially frankincense - and oud on special occasions. I also like to experiment with all kinds of other “burnables”, from resins through woods and grasses.
With any sort of experimentation, you win some you lose some. However, in this case winning and losing are subjective because what I enjoy is different from what you might enjoy. I have a big incense collection, some of which I’ve tried and will never use. To pare the collection down to a manageable size, this week I’m offering a random drawing and giveaway of a set of several types of manufactured incense sticks. To be entered, just leave a comment saying what type of incense you enjoy.
Unfortunately, incense packages are bulky and would cost more to ship than they're worth, so this is a US-only draw. The winner will be announced early next week.
[photos are from Wikimedia]