Winter Nights Yule Incense

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Mixing Winter's Magic

Use dried juniper berries, along with cedar and pine, to make a Yule incense blend. Image by Ed Reschke/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Scents have a way of making time stand still for us sometimes, and the aromas of the winter holidays are no exception. For many people, re-creating the smells and emotions of our childhood, or even of some distant ancestral memory, is part of the magic of the Yule season.

To make your own magical winter night's incense, first determine what form you’d like to make. You can make incense with sticks and in cones, but the easiest kind uses loose ingredients, which are then burned on top of a charcoal disc or tossed into a fire. This recipe is for loose incense, but you can always adapt it for stick or cone recipes - see below for some tips on how to do this.

Incense Dragon over at WitchVox says, "Many incense ingredients have strong ties to winter. Most evergreens (including pine, cedar, fir and juniper) are excellent incense ingredients. The wood, foliage and resins are all useful to the incense maker. Two resins associated with winter and Yule are frankincense and myrrh. Long before the biblical association with the baby Jesus, these two resins were revered as powerful materials. Cinnamon and clove are also strongly associated with winter, as holiday cooking so clearly demonstrates. You can bring these various components together to create your own wonderful incense."

If you have friends who might enjoy making incense with you, invite everyone over for an incense blending party. Ask each guest to bring an herb or spice of their choice, and stock up on spoons, bowls, and small jars - baby food jars are perfect for this - ahead of time. Once everyone has combined their ingredients, divide them up evenly and spread the love!

As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the intent of your work. This particular recipe is one which evokes the spices and magic of a cold December night. Use it during a ritual, if you like, or as a smudging incense to purify a sacred space. You can also toss some into your fire just to make the house smell like winter.

Winter Nights Incense Ingredients

You’ll need:

  • 2 parts Juniper berries
  • 2 parts mugwort
  • 1 part cedar
  • 1 part pine resin (if you don't have resin, you can use dried needles)
  • 1 part dried mistletoe
  • 1 part laurel leaves
  • 1/2 part cinnamon
  • 1/2 part rosemary

Directions

Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation, such as:

As the sun returns, back to the earth,
we celebrate life and death and rebirth.
Cold winter nights and chilly days,
smoke in the sky, carry ills away.
A time of magic, at the longest night,
for without the dark, there cannot be light.
Herbs of power, blended by me,
As I will, so it shall be.

Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its name and date. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.

Making Cone Incense

Cone incense is a little trickier to make than loose incense, for obvious reasons, but once you get the hang of it, the end result is pretty great. Andrea at Frugally Sustainable has a great post on how to make winter solstice incense cones. She says, "All forms of incense — except that of loose incense—consist of four foundational ingredients: a burnable base, an aromatic substance, a bonding element, and a liquid to bring it all together. The beautiful thing about making incense at home…you set the intention for the incense…you choose the ingredients."

Incense Gift Giving

This is the season of giving, so why not blend up some incense to share with friends and family? Once you've blended your loose incense, scoop it into pretty jars or bags, add a festive ribbon around the top, and a note explaining what Yule means to you. Package it up in a decorative basket, and give it as a hostess gift, at the office holiday party, or leave it as a treat for a neighbor!