Divination with Incense
THE RITUAL ART OF INCENSE DIVINATION
By Katlyn Breene
“BURNT SPICES FLASH, AND BURNT WINE HISSES,
THE BREATHING FLAME’S MOUTH CURLS AND KISSES
THE SMALL DRIED ROWS OF FRANKINCENSE;
ALL ROUND THE RED BLOSSOMS SMOLDER,
FLOWERS COLORED LIKE FIRE, BUT COLDER
, IN A SIGN OF THINGS TAKEN HENCE...”
(From Swinburne’s “Illicit”)
Libanomancy is the art of divination through incense. Signs are read in the flares, pops and crackling sounds as the incense burns upon the coals and also the shapes formed in the the rising smoke. Incense containing small seeds (corriander, jesamine, fennel, hemp) or vesta powder (salt peter) works well when asking a question of the oracle censer. As you ask your question aloud, listen for the answer in the popping of the seeds or the flashing of the powder. For example , one sign for “yes,” two in quick secession for “no”, silence for “the outcome is unclear”. Signs can be read by scrying in the smoke, watching its direction. If drifts toward you it is a positive omen.
From an old Grimoire:
“IF YOU ARE AT ONE WITH ME,
RISE TOWARDS ME O SMOKE.
IF YOU ARE NOT AT ONE WITH ME,
RISE ATHWART ME O SMOKE,
EITHER TO THE RIGHT OR TO THE LEFT...”
If the incense ceases to burn prematurely it means that “now is not the time to ask”. The ashes can also be read when the burning is complete, finding shapes and symbols in the censer much like reading tea leaves in a cup. Magicians and seers of the 17th and 16th centuries used aromatic seeds in a rite of divination. The seeds were cast into a hot cauldron and the reading interpreted fromthehissing , pops and crackling. The shapes assumed by the smoke also were read.
Treasure seeking magicians used incense and fire worship to achieve their ends as observed in this old incantation:
“FIRE, FIRE, BLESSED FIRE
UNTO FORTUNE I ASPIRE.
SO I HOPE THAT I MAY SEE
A FORTUNE THAT WILL COME TO ME.”