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Living

Incense and chill. A guide for what to burn and how to create your atmosphere

Photography by Tracey Creed
Assisted by Amandine Paniagua
Words by Tracey Creed


Published January 10 2022

Incense has returned to its place of ritual of late. My days begin and end with this holy smoke. Grounding, incense has been used for centuries for healing, communicating and cleansing, and some varieties have the additional benefit of repelling flies. I’m all for daily rituals that make me feel better in compounding ways, and incense creates inviting spaces, makes a place feel like home. From the $7 packs I pick up from the health food store to the bougie incense with refined aesthetics—here’s what I love to burn and what we’ll be trying next.

Satya Sai Baba

The original Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa Incense and variations from the Shrinivas Sugandhalaya factory in India are Masala based, made from ground-up plants and hand-rolled. As said in the Vedas, the burning of Masala incense is a blend of Indian natural herbs and oils that can shift moods and remove airborne pollutants and negative energy. Nag Champa Agarbatti and Super Hit are the most popular. Each 15g box contains 12-15 incense sticks.

Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa Agarbatti This version relies on the powerful properties of the Champa flower and sandalwood, known in Korean shamanism as the tree of life. Mystic and dense, these woody sticks are dosed with patchouli, often associated with the root chakra—especially good for introducing grounding energy. Available from Amazon.

Satya Sai Baba Super Hit I've always been partial to Super Hit. Its smoke is heady—though I agree with some Redditors, it has toned back some, featuring sandalwood, releasing citrus and temple vibes. Deeply cleansing, Super Hit lifts the mood and clears negative energy, Super Hit aligns your chakras. If you're familiar with Nag Champa, you'll love Super Hit. Available from Amazon.

Ayu

Australian based Ayu was founded with the goal of bringing the rich knowledge of traditional remedies into modern daily rituals. Rooted in the sacred science of Ayurveda, Ayu utilises sourcing wild and globally foraged botanicals that are kind to Mother Earth and beneficial to your being with mood-enhancing scents, which include Sandalwood, Myrrh, Frankincense, Clary Sage and Patchouli. And I have now tried them all. Each box contains 20 incense sticks. For those in New Zealand, I purchased Ayu from Penney + Bennett. For Australia and the rest of the world, Ayu offers international shipping.

Frankincense Smokey, warm, and full of spice, this moody scent sits high on my list of favourites. Traditionally used in meditation, ceremony and ritual, this aromatic resin helps to purify your atmos while channeling positive energies. It’s earthy but in the best way possible. If you too, want to feel earthy, grounded, connected, and sensual, you can buy yourself a box here.

Sandalwood A sacred historical ritualistic scent said to fragrance the heavens, Sandalwood calms the mind and while the science is limited, suggestive that sandalwood, much like other botanicals, could help prevent illness and speed up recovery. Burn some Sandalwood.

Myrrh Resinous with aromatic woody forest vibes, this deeply spiritual scent is said to possess healing and purifying qualities. This incense from Ayu fills the void and then some.

Patchouli In Ayurveda, this heavy musk is revered for its healing properties, resetting the energy in a moment—supporting an anxious mind. The profound effects of scent and fire raise the vibration while grounding us into our space and leaving behind an earthy sweetness in its wake.

Clary Sage Used to connect with the spiritual realm and ward off negative energies. This deeply sacred scent is traditionally used for cleansing and purifying. Intoxicating (but in the best way possible) Clary Sage has the additional benefit of repelling flies.

MAHŌ

Sophisticated and healing, MAHŌ have reinterpreted the classic incense. These sensory sticks combine natural, aromatic resin with a refined blend of premium perfume. They are the kind of incense that, when someone enters your space they will make enquires. I purchased my sticks from Mooma.

Wander Bloom Reminiscent of queen of the night after dark. This incense delivers mood with a modern twist on florals. With base notes of musk and sandalwood married with jasmine and bergamot, these sticks are both orchard and flower fields balanced with cedar. Uplifting yet grounding.

Oud Bohême My favourite so far. A heady resinous fragrance with subtle spice and dark green earthy notes. These incense hero Indonesian oud with middle notes of jasmine and sandalwood underpinned by amber, cedar and musk that evoke a hint of the forest and smoke. Transcendent.

Palo Santo

Palo Santo, Spanish for Holy Wood, is a wood believed to promote positive energy and attract good fortune. Burned, blown out and then left to smoke, this citrusy intoxicating woodsy scent is said to stimulate creativity. Commonly used as a replacement for sage in smudging ceremonies, Palo Santo is said to raise our vibrational frequency, setting the stage for deep meditation and spiritual practice. It also makes a great natural insect repellent. This summer, I will burn copious amounts.

Adi Da Rasa

Adi Da incense is 100 per cent natural, charcoal covered sticks rolled in pure oils of wild-foraged flowers and herbs. Each of the four fragrances was created, blended and named under guidance from Adi Da Samraj—handmade in India in collaboration with a 3rd generation woman-run incense house. I also burn Sandalwood but am yet to find Rose and Da Sangha. There are 20 incense sticks per box with an average burn time of 54 minutes. Included is a 31-page Spiritual Booklet I am yet to read.

Holy Cat Humid florals, but pleasant, this incense heavily features notes of amber, jasmine and musk. Discovered this while picking up groceries from Harvest Wholefoods; Holy Cat is a repeat purchase. And yes, I purchased it because of the cat on the box. Lame, I know. The incense of Adidam—the spiritual realiser, Holy Cat is the name of Adi Da’s first teacher, his cat, Robert.

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