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Some of the herbs I foraged for this year’s Lughnasadh incense 

For your Lughnasadh (aka Lammas) rituals, consider crafting your own loose incense for burning in your altar cauldron or in an outdoor bonfire.

Scott Cunningham suggested this classic recipe in his 1986 book The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews:

  • 2 parts* Frankincense resin (see note on PARTS below)
  • 1 part Heather
  • 1 part Apple blossoms (or dried Apple pieces)
  • 1 pinch Blackberry leaves
  • a few drops Ambergris oil

Yes, Cunningham is an inspiration to many of us but I personally would not use ambergris oil (prepared from raw ambergris harvested from the ocean, this substance is secreted from the digestive system of sperm whales) but I like the idea of the other ingredients, so I adapted his recipe by substituting Cypress Essential Oil (Cupressus sempervirens) for the ambergris oil.

You could use any essential oil you have in the evergreen family, and add a couple of drops of Patchouli Essential Oil (Pogostemon cablin).

You could also customize Cunningham’s formulation by adding or substituting other local wildcrafted seasonal herbs such as yarrow and goldenrod, plants such as Sweet Annie (artemisia annua) and herbs (or essential oils) such as cinnamon bark (cinnamomum zeylanicum), rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis), coriander (coriandrum sativum) or basil (ocimum basilicum).

But with Lughnasadh being about the harvest and gratitude, why not wildcraft an incense using local plants and herbs ingredients… preferably foraged?

I found another formulation I like (The Lammas Rebirth Incense from Thoughtco) using many ingredients which I can easily find — with one exception! — so am slightly adapting it, as I cannot find Sweet Annie anywhere, and I’m all out of dried Apple blossoms! I will be substituting dried apple pieces instead, along with some foraged Wild Fennel. You’ll need:

  • 1 part basil
  • 1/2 part cinnamon bark (or cinnamon powder)
  • 1 part coriander (fresh / dried herbs if possible, rather than ground coriander which comes from the seeds)
  • 2 parts goldenrod
  • 1 part heather
  • 1/2 part rosemary
  • 2 parts Sweet Annie (you can use dried apple blossoms if you don’t have Sweet Annie)
  • 1 part yarrow

When using picking the wild elements — goldenrod, heather, Sweet Annie, yarrow, etc — use your preferred combination of their flowers, leaves, and stalks. Allow them to wilt before chopping or throw in a dehydrator (or oven… watch carefully!) for a couple of hours on lowest heat.

Preparation for a Beltaine loose incense 

Measuring in parts allows you to scale a recipe up or down quite easily, simply by choosing your preferred measuring device such as measuring spoons, cups, grams, shot glasses or even egg cups!

For instance, in these formulations, you could use 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon to equal 1 part. If you really liked the finished incense, it, you could scale up so that 1 part = 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, 30 grams, etc.

The Parts method provides consistency when scaling and measuring and is sometimes referred to as the “simpler’s method” and “common sense measurement”. Unlike baking, the measurements for incense do not need to be extremely precise. Your can let your intuition guide you.

And by finely chopping or grinding all ingredients, your outcome each time will be fairly consistent.

Think about your Lughnasadh Soul Work while you prepare your herbs. Let your thoughts of gratitude infuse your herbs with their positive vibrations. Invite in your mentors, allies, guides, and Ancestors for their support and energy… and magick!

Remember, everything can be Ritual!

Crush all the dry ingredients first with a mortar and pestle (or chop very finely with a sharp knife) and then add any essential oils until blended to your liking. Check the blend intuitively, and add a bit more of whatever your heart says the blend needs.

Store in a sealed glass jar. Label with your ingredients — and the date — so you can make it again. Use a lit charcoal disk (I like bamboo, as it’s more Eco-friendly) to burn this incense at your altar or toss a handful into a bonfire.