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The Two Forms of Incense Incense is virtually a necessity in magical practice, but there seems to be a great mystery surrounding its composition. Fortunately with practice, it's surprisingly easy to make incense.

Two types of incense are used in magic: the combustible and thenoncombustible. The former contains potassium nitrate (saltpeter) to aid in burning, while the latter does not. Therefore combustible incense can be burned in the form of bricks, cones, sticks and other shapes, whereas noncombustible incense must be sprinkled onto glowing charcoal blocks to release its fragrance.

Ninety-five percent of the incense used in magic is the non-combustible, raw or granular type. Why? Perhaps because it's easier to make. Herbal magicians are notoriously practical people.

Also, some spells (particularly divinatory or evocational rites; see the Glossary for unfamiliar words) call for billowing clouds of smoke. Since cone, stick and block incense burn at steady rates, such effects are impossible with their use.

The advantages of combustible incense can outweigh its drawbacks, depending on circumstance. Need to burn some money drawing incense for an unexpected ritual? You could take out the censer, a charcoal block and the incense, light the charcoal, place it in the censer and sprinkle incense onto it. Or you could pull out a cone of money-drawing incense, light it, set it in the censer and get on with your ritual.

Different magicians prefer different types of incense. I'm partial to raw or noncombustible incenses, but the wise magical herbalist stocks both types. Hence, instructions for the preparation of both forms appear here.