Burning fragrant herbs and resins as incense is an ancient form of bloodless sacrifice, from Latin sacer, meaning “holy” or “scared” and facere, “to do”, “to make”. Incense was burnt in temples, on altars of gods, inside homes etc. The goal was often to appease the deity. Sometimes incense was inhaled for reaching an altered state of mind and performing oracles. Homes and barns were cleansed from negative vibrations and diseases with the smoke of burnt herbs. Incense was also used to cover the stench of death and to appease the souls of the recently deceased. Venific herbs and other unusual ingredients were employed by sorcerers as incense and potions to enchant, bind and curse. Black magical grimoires called for certain incense recipes to coerce, bind and exorcise the demons of hell. Shamans inhaled the smoke of certain herbs to exit the material realm and communicate with the spirit world and the dead. Today incense is still burnt in many traditions and religions to soothe the spirits, cleanse places and create a positive atmosphere. Of course incense is also burnt simply because it smells nice.
Teufelskunst incense blends are composed of potent herbs and resins. In order to use them you will need an incense burner (also known as censer or thurible), warmer or cauldron and a suitable heat source.
Burning incense on hot coals
For this method you will need a censer, e.g. one made of brass, stone or clay and pieces of self-igniting charcoal. Place the censer on a fireproof surface and fill it with sand. Some censers also come with a grid. Use metal tongs to hold the coal. With a lighter or candle flame ignite the coal from the bottom. The hottest part of the flame is at the top. Be careful! The coal emits sparks when ignited. Hold it over a fireproof surface to avoid damage. When the piece of coal is aglow (you see a red glow both at the bottom and top), place it on the sand or grid inside the censer. Wait till the coal glows all the way through and the edge turns grey. This may take a few minutes. Knock off the ash. Now you can place a teaspoon of the incense blend on it. Dried herbs will be consumed faster than resins. Wait until the smoke ceases, remove burnt remnants and add more of the incense blend.
Use a fan or single feather to fumigate the room or just let the smoke rise and spread by itself. Use intervals for reciting prayers and observing the smoke. After a few minutes you can add another tea-spoon of incense. Repeat until the coal is used up. Allow for the smoke to envelope and fill the room. Open the window and air the room for a few minutes, i.e. when the smoke becomes too intense and when you are finished. At first the smell may be perceived as unpleasant, especially when a baneful or coercive blend was used. Please take this into account beforehand or simply do not use these blends indoors. Incense for veneration, dream work, centering, cleansing and high magical work are fine to use indoors, and will fill the room with a pleasant scent lasting for days, so that you will continue to feel the blend’s specific effects on your body, soul and mind.
Caution: Even when all of the coal has been consumed, the censer may remain hot for hours after use (depending on the material). Wait until it has cooled down or use oven mitts to move it.
Tip: Place a sheet of tin foil between the hot coal and the incense. This way the resins will be consumed slower and dried herbs will not burn up too quickly.
Using a warmer
A nice alternative to burning incense on hot coals is to use a tea light or short candle, which is positioned underneath a small pan holding the incense (usually the pan is made of brass or copper). The heat of the candle flame causes the resins and herbal ingredients to warm up and release their aromatic components into the air without being burnt.
Using a cauldron
Of course you can also toss the blends into your magical cauldron or ritual bonfire, together with hand-written spells and whilst pronouncing prayers and spells.