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My Favorite Incense Books: The Trail Of Time by Dr. Silvio Bedini

Not only is The Trail of Time one of my very favorite incense books, it’s also one of the few academic books on the topics that’s available in English.  Dr. Bedini uses the pages of this book to shine a light on a nearly forgotten aspect of human history.  Before the advent of reliable mechanical clocks, humans used a wide variety of ways to keep time, especially during the hours of darkness when the sun could not be used as a reference.  Candles, water, sand, rope, and other materials were often utilized in an attempt to keep time when the sun was uncooperative.  The many ways that incense was employed to keep time is fascinating and has inspired me to attempt a variety of projects of my own.

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Purified By Fire: Incense Inspiration

When we focus on incense sticks during meditation, we move into a mystical space that is both physical and spiritual. Like us, the incense stick is earthbound with an ember that burns for only a finite time, but the diaphanous spirit it releases is unbound by time or space. Rather than shutting down our senses to focus on an inner realm, incense involves our senses as we follow whirling smoke upward and outward while we take its scent into us, filling us as we breathe. 

The journey starts with a flame, and then a glowing ember releases smoke to rise above us in an ethereal dance. Ashes fall below, purified by the fire. We can use this to imagine negative thoughts being changed from darkness into the beauty of warm gray snowflakes and a scented spun-silver plume, lighter than air. We can watch as our atmosphere is altered to become reminiscent of the heavens and lifts our thoughts: Embers become shooting stars, and the silver ribbon of smoke becomes unraveled clouds. Altered senses may guide our inspired thoughts to travel along new, perhaps undiscovered, pathways. 

We can also imagine our physical selves being represented by the incense stick, our inner fire releasing magic into the world. That part of us emanates outward, expanding to mingle with the breath of those around us as we ride the wind to become part of everything. We can also see in the swirling smoke our life's path, not a straight line but a twirling, meandering ballet that moves us ever onward and upward. We may leave a bit of ourselves behind as we bounce off of our surroundings, working through them, but no matter what we do, we cannot avoid our final destination: oneness with all that is. As spiritual beings enjoying the physical experience of life, incense meditations can help us remember the beauty and wonder of our existence, where heaven and earth, body and spirit, are all available to us in every moment

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In Search of Hot Chocolate

When I think about Imbolc, I often think about hot chocolate. Since dairy is highlighted on the Imbolc menu in some form or another, this could be the perfect time to search out the best hot chocolate in the area. While you’re sipping—and possibly dipping—a cookie in your rich chocolaty cocoa, meditate on where you’ve come since the holidays and where you’d like to continue in the months to come.

I’ve written about Imbolc before for Pagan Square, including a meditative cross-country ski you could take during this time of the year.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I celebrated Groundhog Day today with a home-baked chocolate chip muffin; from a mix not from scratch, and a glass of coconut milk
Lovingkindness Meditation: Conjuring Contentment

If you had a rough day at work, your inner critic was overactive or are just feeling a little down, try this as lovingkindness meditation.. It can be difficult cultivate self-love but it is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. The very peacefulness you create with this ritual, you can also send to another,  Begin by sitting quietly, taking relaxed, slow, deep breaths and wishing yourself happiness. After sitting quietly begin to speak this mantra aloud::

May I be happy.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

"Just breathe"

Such a simple statement. A reminder to just breathe. Why do we say that? Does it really help?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Anger is Sticky

I'm preparing to receive my Reiki II attunement, and I've been thinking a lot lately about anger.

There are countless things in my life that make me angry right now. My kids drive me up the wall. My husband leaves messes in the kitchen. I don't particularly like my day job, but I haven't yet figured out how to quit it and still pay the mortgage. My back hurts a lot. Also, we're in the middle of a late capitalist apocalypse.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Taking Refuge in Reality

Five of us, variously exhausted or uplifted, sat distributed on couches in the interview room. Our meditation teacher was checking in with us in the midst of a week-long silent retreat. One by one we responded. As usual, there were the usual happy yogis who had reached new heights of concentration, complete with interesting spiritual effects. The rest of us were detailing our rather more mundane struggles with the practice: distractions, obsessive thoughts, doubts. I had just finished adding my troubles to the pile when the teacher sent me a level look and said: “This is how it is right now.”

 

This is how it is right now. The whole of the Dharma in seven words.

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