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The Censer Whether you use raw incense, blocks or incense papers, you'll need an incense burner. The censer can be anything from a gilt, chain equipped, church-type affair to a bowl of sand or salt. It truly doesn't matter. I know occultists who've used the bowl-and-salt method for years, long after they could have afforded to purchase other censers.

Although I have several, perhaps my favorite censer is actually a mortar from Mexico. It is carved from lava, stands on three legs and is perfect for use as a censer.

Your own taste should determine which censer is right for you. If nothing else is available, use a bowl half-filled with sand or salt and get on with it The sand protects the bowl and the surface on which it sits against heat. It also provides a handy place on which to prop up stick incense.

Using Combustible

Using Combustible Incense Simply light it, blow out the flame after the tip is glowing, and set it in the censer. As it burns visualize your magical goal manifesting in your life. It's that simple. You may wish to also burn candles of the appropriate color, perhaps anointed with a scented oil that is also aligned with your goal. Naturally, incense may also be smoldered as a part of a larger ritual. Using Noncombustible Incense Light a self-igniting charcoal block (see below) and place it in a censer. Once the block is glowing and saltpeter within it has stopped sparkling, sprinkle a half-teaspoon or so of the incense on the block. Use a small spoon if you wish. It will immediately begin to burn, and in doing so, release fragrant smoke.* Remember: Use just a small amount of incense at first. When the smoke begins to thin out, add more. If you dump on a spoonful of incense it will probably extinguish the charcoal block, so use small amounts. Incenses containing large amounts of resins and gums (frankincense, myrrh and so on) burn longer than those mainly composed of woods and leaves. Don't knock off the ash that forms on top of the charcoal unless the incense starts to smell foul. In such a case, scrape off the burning incense and the ash with a spoon and add a fresh batch. Frankincense does tend to smell odd after smoldering for some time. Incense can be burned as part of a magical ritual, to honor higher forces, or as a direct act of magic, such as to clear a house of negativity and to smooth peaceful vibrations throughout it. ___________________ * There's a difference between burning and smoldering; though I use such terms as "burn this incense" several times in this book, I really mean "smolder." Charcoal Blocks These are necessities for burning noncombustible incense. They're available in a wide range of sizes, from over an inch in diameter (they're usually round) to about a half-inch size. Most religious and occult supply stores stock them, and they can be obtained from mail-order suppliers. Potassium nitrate is added to these charcoal blocks during their manufacture to help them ignite. When touched with a lit match, fresh charcoal blocks erupt into a sparkling fire which quickly spreads across the block. If you wish, hold the block. It may light easily. If so, quickly place it in the censer to avoid burning your fingers. Or, light the block in the censer itself, thereby preventing burns. This is some what harder to do. Unfortunately, some charcoal blocks aren't fresh, have been exposed to moisture, or haven't been properly saturated with the potassium nitrate solution and so don't light well. If this is the case relight the block until it is evenly glowing and red. Then pour on the incense.

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