Ceramics and Art for Daily Scent Magick by Sweet Tarnation
Scent is powerful. It has the ability to pull memories from our minds with startling clarity or warn us if something isn’t quite right. It allows us to experience our food and time with loved ones more deeply than just sight, sound, taste, and touch alone. It can bring all-encompassing irritation (think public transit and over-bearing perfume, we’ve all been there) or give us beautiful calm when we need it (my favorite lavender eye pillow comes to mind).
Incense, burning bundles, and candles offer a wonderful way to bring in some every day magick. They allow us to control and curate the scents in our environment, especially if you subscribe to the medicinal and metaphysical properties associated with many herbs. Along with candles, you can combust dry herbs in bundles or use them as a loose incense (think tea blends, but for burning). Charcoal disks are another great way to burn herbs. You light the disk and let it smolder, then set it on a fire-safe dish and put a pinch of herbs on the hot disk. Cone or stick incense are great options too! You’ll want to make sure there aren’t any toxic ingredients in the incense you burn. There can be some nasty things in commercially-produced incense, so if you’re able to get handmade cones by a trusted maker or make them yourself, you’ll have more say in what is released into your home.
Foregoing combusting herbs by heating them in a dish over a candle-warming plate or using a wax-melt-style warmer is a great alternative. This is a good option if you are particularly sensitive to smoke or have animals in the house. Always do your own research and make sure the herbs you’re burning/warming are safe, for you and any animals! This is paramount, we need to be safe above all else, especially if we’re taking care of lives other than our own.
I love using beautiful dishes as a safe place for scent rituals, whether I’m using a candle, bundle, handmade cone incense, or loose dried herbs. Having a lovely vessel gives this ritual gravity. It lends some magick to this practice, bringing me further into the act. I smile wider and breathe more intentionally when my tools reflect the care I want to put into each of these moments. It’s also keeps my tools out and in view so I’m more likely to use them. Having a tray with all my scent options has encouraged so much more use and interaction, adding so many pockets of calm in my day! I get to enjoy them visually when they’re not in use, which is a joy in itself, and then I am likely to use them later when I’m taking a moment for myself and use scent to alter my headspace toward calm.
Check out available vessels here!
One of my favorite methods is clipping fresh rosemary and lavender, letting the stalks dry for a day or two, and tying them together into bundles with cotton thread or twine. After they’re tied I’ll leave them out to dry further for 4-5 days more, then they’re ready for use! You can light these bundles with a lighter or match, though I’ve found a match adds more ceremony. I’ve also found if the herbs have a little moisture left in them they won’t stay lit for long, so I’ve used lit candles to periodically refresh the smoke. After lighting, make sure the flames don’t get too large, and blow the flames out to produce the desired smoke level.
Always, always, always practice common-sense fire safety. Don’t light or put any burning herbs anywhere near flammable objects and never leave it unattended. We’re trying to add magick to our lives, not tragedy (or insurance hassles). Enjoy this time with yourself and try to add touches here and there, such as vessels you love or other tools like a favorite lighter, to draw you in and add beauty to these moments!