Holy Smoke - For Purification
Smoke comes from fire which has always been considered one of the main elements in purification, along with prayer. In Buddhist temples in Japan and China, the smoke from burning material is used not only to send prayers upwards, but to smoke the body for spiritual cleansing, purification and healing of the auric field. People can be seen using their cupped hands to direct the smoke over their heads and shoulders before entering the temple.
Incense is often used, asd, as I have discovered on occasion, some rather less aromatically pleasing materials. I have found myself in thick, pungent clouds of smoke, which filled my lungs and clung to my clothes all day.
The small lumps mof resinous incense burnt in censers in Christian churches - particularly of the Orthodox and Coptic traditions - can produce large amounts of smoke, which pervades not only the building, but engulfs the congregation within. Native Americans use smudge sticks made of fragrant herbs, grasses and trees; directing the smoke around people as well as places with a feather.
All these, and other, traditions use the smoke of natural, fragrant plant materials. The purpose of these ceremonies may be specific in that they mark a rite of passage - such as birth, menarche, manhood, marriage, menopause, retirement and death - or aim to improve ill-health. or they may be more general in that they aim to cleanse the auric field and alter the energy residing within a space or emanating from a person.
Smoking is thought to clear negative influences, restore balance, induce spiritual purification, increase spiritual awareness, or prepare the body-mind-spirit for sacred ceremony. Smoke is also used to cleanse environments, whether at home or work, and in exorcism.
Essential oils incorporate the two elements that constitute the smoke ceremonies - fire and fragrant plant material. They do not themselves produce smoke- unless burnt on charcoal - but many people find this an advantage. In burning fragrant plant material, the aroma is released by the heat, but so too is a great deal of smoke.
Essential oils are also readily available, whereas some of the plant materials traditionally used are not. Essential oils can be used on their own -in diffusers or simply on smelling strips - and directed, as in smoke ceremonies, around the head and body of a person or around the room.
Whatever material is used, and whatever the purpose, the other crucial element is spiritual thought. As you go about the business of using holy smoke, or essential oils on their own, invoke your spiritual source and put your whole mind into asking for assistance in achieving your goal.
Essential oils are flammable, and care should be taken when using fire of any kind. The only time I recommend using essential oils in conjunction with fire is in candles. Shop-bought 'aromatherapy' candles may contain synthetic fragrances, which have nothing to do with aromatherapy or cleansing and purification.
You can make your own essential oil candles using candle making kits and pure, natural essential oils.
Natural resins have, of course, been placed on braziers or censers for millennia, but few of us own the equipment to replicate this system of use. If you do, the incenses traditionally used - depending on the culture - include frankincense, myrrh, copal, benzoin and gum Arabic in resin form.
In Asia, especially japan, fragrant woods such as Jinko, kara-mokkoh and kyaras are highly prized, and come in delicate strips which are placed on charcoal or in small incense burners. They are generally used to raise the spiritual energetic level of a person, rather than for purification and protection.
If you have a fireproof incense dish, usually made of pottery or metal, essential oils can be used in conjunction with small round pieces of charcoal that are sold specifically for use with incense. But, be warned, the effect is dramatic as the essential oil smoke shoots high into the air, and before trying this method do a test-run outside, and stand well back.
The charcoal does not always look as if it's alight when it actually is, so care must be taken. patience is required: the charcoal will light in one place, and tiny sparks can be seen running across the surface as the heat activates the entire piece, which can still at this point be black. In fact, red-hot, without the red! Wait until this process is complete before adding the essential oils, which should be used in moderation.
Reference: The Fragrant Heavens: Valerie Ann Worwood