Witchcraft and Paganism have a long history of the use of incense as a valuable ritual tool. Incense is associated with the element Air and helps us to create and open the way to a Sacred space. In the past people would burn magical herbs and aromatic woods to help cleanse, purify, and sanctify their homes and temples as well as spaces in which they were going to perform ritual magick. History tells us that Incense has been used as a sacrifice to both Goddesses and Gods, as a smudge to help drive away evil spirits, and as a tool to draw in good luck, love and wealth.
Burning Loose Incense:
Fill a heat proof incense bowl or censer with at least 2" of sand, or natural ash. This will provided some much needed insulation for your burner. Charcoal can burn at up to 1500 degrees F.
Form a cone shape with whatever medium you filled your burner and place the charcoal tablet at the peak. This will allow air to flow around the charcoal. This is more important when using sand, since ash is "breathable."
Place a charcoal tablet on the ash/sand and light the edge. If it's self-igniting charcoal (contains potassium nitrate) you will see tiny sparks as you light it and it will ignite quickly so never hold it in your hand! If you need to hold the charcoal over an open flame to ignite it, use tweezers or tongs to hold it.
If your charcoal tablet has a concave indentation on one side place it in your burner with the hollow facing up. Use the "bowl" to hold your incense ingredients.
Wait until the charcoal is glowing red hot and is covered with grayish-white ash. This could take about 5 minutes or so. If you like you can fan or blow on the charcoal to help get the whole tablet started.
When ready sprinkle a pinch or two (about 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon) of incense (e.g. resin, dried herbs, etc.) directly on top of the hot charcoal. The incense will begin to smolder. Be careful not to place too much incense on the charcoal or you may smother it and you'll have to start over.
When the smoke begins to thin out, add more incense. The charcoal will stay hot enough to burn incense for about 45 minutes to an hour.