Many indigenous people know the power of natural incense as a means of purification, prayer, and transformation. As we watch incense smoke rise up to the realm of clouds, birds, stars, and sky, we can’t help but be uplifted as we envision our intentions and prayers rising up as well. Here is a simple incense purification ritual based on native ways:
1. Choose 1/8 cup or so of any of the following, or use a combination:
Dried needles of: Cedar, Juniper, Pine, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
If no dried natural material is available, use an all-natural incense stick in a scent that is pleasing to you.
2. Find a flameproof container, such as an ashtray, and take it, some matches, and your incense to a place with adequate ventilation and a container of water nearby (just in case your flame gets out of hand).
3. Heap the dried materials you have chosen in the middle of your container, knowing that the ritual you are about to perform has been used by people for millennia. When you do this, you are making a connection to your ancestors, and to the traditional earth-based ways that have comforted and connected humans since before the dawn of history.
4. Make a clear intention, silently or aloud, for purification, a fresh beginning for this new growing season. Light the incense materials until they flame, then gently blow out the flame so that the incense smokes.
5. Visualize placing your deep desire for a clean start into the smoke. Watch it for a time as it curls upward. Imagine that the smoke is carrying your prayer to the sky, to the great Above.
6. When the incense has burned out (you may need to relight it a few times to accomplish this), give thanks, and use the ashes to fertilize your houseplants.
By Cait Johnson, author of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air (SkyLight Paths,