Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mardi: Herbal-Wise

As promised, today we will discuss myrrh, that companion of last Tuesday’s herb frankincense. Myrrh is actually a tree gum and, because of its very heady fragrance, it is rarely used alone as an incense.

The dried resin, which usually comes as crystallized chips, will be mixed with close relatives copal or frankincense and can then be burned on an incense charcoal to protect or heal a space. Myrrh is said to create an atmosphere of tranquility and peace. It is often used by people who practice divination to bring calm to their workspace. As a writer, I find that myrrh and frankincense together can add an imaginative spark to the air as well. In Ancient Egypt, the scent was believed to have a sensual edge and myrrh incense was used in rituals to heal infertility. Myrrh is sometimes mixed with sandalwood chips to encourage recovery from illness.

Again like frankincense, myrrh can be added to magickal preparations to increase their power. Sachets and mojo bags of all kinds will benefit from the addition of a chip of myrrh. It is rarely added to oils or waters, though, because it is a dark resin that will discolor the preparation and can stain fabrics or even skin once dissolved. Should you receive a gift of frankincense and myrrh, you will always be able to tell them apart if you remember that myrrh is the darker and more heavily scented of the two.

As with frankincense, the scent of myrrh aids meditation. Some practitioners use the smoke of myrrh incense to consecrate and purify objects to be used in magick. If you are using it for this purpose, be certain that the incense you have is actually myrrh and not a synthetic substitute (sometimes used in stick or cone incenses). For best results, stay with the resin burned on charcoal; it takes a little more tending, but the work is worth it.

And, as I mentioned in our last herbal-wise post, frankincense and myrrh make a thoughtful and delightfully scented gift at this or any time of the year. Those Magi certainly knew what they were up to. Bon chance ~

Header: The Adoration of the Magi by Sandro Botticelli. Note that Sandro, like Albrecht Durer, has included himself in this famous scene; he’s the gentleman swathed in gold on the far right, looking over his shoulder at the viewer.


Timmy! said...

I had no idea they even made synthetic myrrh, Pauline. Thanks for the warning.

Pauline said...

I swear they make synthetic everything now. Gah!