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Author Topic: Stick incense vs. Frankincense?  (Read 21547 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 19, 2007, 06:15:41 PM »

Hey all,

 Forgive me if this question seems silly but here goes. I was wondering about the different types of incense available and if it matters which ones we (EO's) use during our Morning/Evening prayers? I found some stick insense that has a wonderful floral scent, and because it's faster than charcoal burning incense, I was hoping I could use it from time to time. I phoned my priest, and he thought it was a no-no, but that he would find out for me. Of coarse, I will accept his counsel, but I was wondering what y'all thought?
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2007, 06:24:36 PM »

I don't know, but I've never used incense for my private prayers. That would be unusual, at least in Romania,
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2007, 06:25:07 PM »

Of coarse, I will accept his counsel, but I was wondering what y'all thought?

Well, personally, I don't much see the point of using incense in private devotions, since doing so divorces the incense from its liturgical context. However, were I to use it, I would want to maintain as much continuity and similarity as possible to Orthodox liturgical practice. Thus, stick incense is right out. Only incense made specifically for liturgical worship will do.

P.S. How is this a "Faith" issue?
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2007, 07:03:59 PM »

I was always told stick inscence was "weed be gone" inscence, or something used to cover up the smell of a spent blunt.  So it kinda was a no no from the get go.

Also, I see stick inscence used in devotion to Hindu gods, Chinese deities and Buhdda alot.  So, personally, I wouldn't use it.

But best thing to do would be to consult your priest.  If he gives you the OK, then OK.

Still, I'd prefer a hand censer.  I don't want to be mistaken for someone who will have the munchies later.  And anyway, it'd be too much of a tempetation to get one  of those cool dragon headed insence stands, which dont look good in a prayr corner.
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2007, 07:05:04 PM »

Well, personally, I don't much see the point of using incense in private devotions, since doing so divorces the incense from its liturgical context.
I was under the impression that our private devotions, esp the Morning and Evening prayers, are 'mini'-Liturgies minus the Eucharist. And I was also under the impression that we were supposed to use incense at home. Why else would Orthodox suppliers sell incense, charcoal, and mini cencers for the home altar? My priest encourages us to use incense at home. I'm OCA, but I've heard the Antiochians do likewise.

P.S. How is this a "Faith" issue?
I guess the Mods, Cleveland in this case, thought it fit better here. Who am I to disagree?  Wink

 
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2007, 07:11:08 PM »

I was under the impression that our private devotions, esp the Morning and Evening prayers, are 'mini'-Liturgies minus the Eucharist. And I was also under the impression that we were supposed to use incense at home. Why else would Orthodox suppliers sell incense, charcoal, and mini cencers for the home altar? My priest encourages us to use incense at home. I'm OCA, but I've heard the Antiochians do likewise.

As do we Greeks.
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2007, 07:46:06 PM »

Ya the last time I used incense at home (many many years ago) was to cover up the smell of those funny cigarettes. But if it helps you in prayer i am for it. For me stick incense would bring back to much negative karma.
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2007, 07:49:48 PM »

I think half the dorm rooms in U of H need weedscence even to this day.  It's not a wonder that I felt lightheaded coming out of my room, and I was on the first floor! Grin
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2007, 07:52:52 PM »

Ya the last time I used incense at home (many many years ago) was to cover up the smell of those funny cigarettes. But if it helps you in prayer i am for it. For me stick incense would bring back to much negative karma.
I think a lot of folks [experimented] with [herbs]. But the incense I found has a really nice floral scent, not patchouli. Also, I break them into 1" mini-sticks and close the lid to my hand censer. Like that, no one would suspect recreational drug use. Plus all the prayin' goin' on.  Wink 
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2007, 08:41:34 PM »

I honestly don't think it matters. I mean, does it really matter what SHAPE it is? I don't know about most people, but were I to use incense, the stick kind seem much more easy to deal with in a home setting. Not to mention, you're putting it inside the censer, so it's not like you're having a hippy-fest.
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2007, 08:58:06 PM »

I was under the impression that our private devotions, esp the Morning and Evening prayers, are 'mini'-Liturgies minus the Eucharist.

Impossible. Liturgy, by its very definition, cannot be private.

Quote
And I was also under the impression that we were supposed to use incense at home. Why else would Orthodox suppliers sell incense, charcoal, and mini cencers for the home altar? My priest encourages us to use incense at home. I'm OCA, but I've heard the Antiochians do likewise.

Home censers are now very common.
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« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2007, 10:04:16 PM »

Also, I break them into 1" mini-sticks and close the lid to my hand censer.

That is a great idea, I think the way you are using it seems very acceptable. I know my mom gets the little incense cones that seem to work the same way as the sticks to put in her hand censer.
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« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2007, 10:07:36 PM »

Impossible. Liturgy, by its very definition, cannot be private.
With a technical definition, yes. Yet Liturgy, 'work of the people' or 'public work', is understood that not only do we meet at church to pray and worship together, but also, the home is a mini-church in which the family, or in my case roommates, pray and worship together. The 'home' atmosphere is often private in the sense that it involves a family or roommates, but we're still 'working' together for each's salvation.
But regardless of the language, and we can continue discussing that, it seems that most people use incense in the home.

Home censers are now very common.
And we put incense in them. Wink
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2007, 10:18:08 PM »

If you want to use stick incense and not feel like a pothead, Christ of the Desert Monastery (RC- Benedictine) makes stick incense for Christian use.

http://christdesert.org/Visit_Our_Store/Incense/index.html

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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2007, 10:46:52 PM »

With a technical definition, yes. Yet Liturgy, 'work of the people' or 'public work', is understood that not only do we meet at church to pray and worship together, but also, the home is a mini-church in which the family, or in my case roommates, pray and worship together. The 'home' atmosphere is often private in the sense that it involves a family or roommates, but we're still 'working' together for each's salvation.
But regardless of the language, and we can continue discussing that, it seems that most people use incense in the home.   

Oh - see I had the impression (and maybe pensateomnia did as well) that when you said "private devotions" you meant one (1) person praying alone; if you're talking about praying as a family, then I would qualify that as a liturgical act (of course I probably have a more liberal usage of the word).
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« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2007, 10:57:15 PM »

One could say that anytime a person prays the prayers of the Church: the prescribed morning and evening prayers or vespers or matins as reader services, even privately, one is praying liturgically because you are joining your prays to those of others praying the same prayers corporately in churches.

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« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2007, 11:48:28 PM »

One could say that anytime a person prays the prayers of the Church: the prescribed morning and evening prayers or vespers or matins as reader services, even privately, one is praying liturgically because you are joining your prays to those of others praying the same prayers corporately in churches. 

Eh, but then it seems to water down the word a little too much for my liking.  I don't want to bog this thread down with that debate, though.
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« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2007, 07:32:46 AM »

I was always taught that one never prays alone (even if you are literally alone) because at some point around the world someone somewhere, as well as the saints in heaven, are praying with you the same prayers.
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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2007, 09:05:29 AM »

The use of stick incense is allowed, according to my spiritual father, if the source is Christian. Sadly most stick incense comes from the far east India, China, Southest Asia, and Japan---it is made traditionally by placing animal manure impermeated with sented oils on a stick for burning before idols.  The use of the manure makes it unacceptable for Orthodox use.  In the last ten years some monasteries (primarily schismatic, Vacante, and Roman Catholic) have started to use a compressed sawdust punk that can be impermeated with scent that are acceptable as incense for use in the home.  I have even given a sample of one in which frankinsense poweder was mixed with the sawdust and I could not tell a difference in scent.  I used these with my children and grandchildren when they were too small to handle the censer with the charcoal but switched back to charcoal  and  regular frankincense when it was safe for them to handle the censer.

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« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2007, 09:59:07 AM »

Quote
But regardless of the language, and we can continue discussing that, it seems that most people use incense in the home.

I would seriously doubt that. There is no way the majority of the world's Orthodox Christians use incense at home -- not now, not in the medieval period and certainly not in antiquity. There are pockets of Orthodox that do so now in the post-Industrial age, since products like hand censers and incense are inexpensive compared to average disposable income and easy to obtain.
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« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2007, 11:17:18 AM »

Of course I may be mistaken but I understand the only incense we actually use in church and at home is "livani" burned with special charcoal "karvounakia". In Greece at least. At home, I have seen it placed in a "thymiaterion" or "livanistiri"(censer) a bit different than that of the church as it does not have chains, only a handle.

I found this information online: http://www.orthodoxonline.com/censer-secondary.htm
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« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2007, 11:48:57 AM »

I bought a tiny little censer at an Antiochian Orthodox churches' festival a few weeks ago because I received incense from the middle east as a gift. I bought the charcoal at the same time and my ten year old altar boy son is going to show me how to light it. I figure we can use it on feast days when we light the candles in front of the icons and when our priest comes to bless our home.
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« Reply #22 on: September 20, 2007, 03:35:36 PM »

I was always taught that one never prays alone (even if you are literally alone) because at some point around the world someone somewhere, as well as the saints in heaven, are praying with you the same prayers.

Bravo!!!

The "Church" to us sometimes is the building down the street where the Alter and the vestry is. Of course this is the church in one sense. But we must remind ourselves that the Holy Church reaches from one end of the earth to the other and is 'to be' the same on earth as it is in heaven.

In heaven the saints, martyrs the angels and arch angles, Seraphim and Cherubim, the elect and all the hosts, principalities and dominions of the etenal kingdom to come are all worshipping and praising Christ without ceasing.

So when we pray we are NEVER alone.

We are earth bound and waiting for the second advent and while we are waiting we are singing and praising with all our minds, hearts our whole being. This is what the apostles teach. As such every aspect of our lives are in the church. WE are never outside the church at any time in this sense.

Our homes are an extension of the church. Our homes are spiritual places of worship. In fact anywhere an orthodox christian who keeps the way of the true faith stands by virtue of the grace of the holy spirit it is a spiritual place of worship.

This is not to say the eucharistic rites or any of the holy sacraments are to be performed. Such is to done in a 'consecrated' structure by an ordained clergyman; of course this is the 'church' in the more common sense.

Incense is good for the home for prayer and worship.

Some communions prefer to keep incense in the sacaramental pratice of the church only and not for prayer outside of this. I do not object to that. This does not mean that communions that do insist that the layman use incense in prayeer is doing anything wrong. It is a choice

It is important to me that the layman understand that he/she is an instrument of the faith of Christ and not just a spectator with no power or purpose. At baptism we recieve the gift of the holy spirit which permits us to be workers and vessels of the faith, followers of Christ. This is the most important gift in the holy church. No one can become a deacon, priest, or patriarch without first recieving 'baptism'.

It used to be a time where the faithful would even wear clothing only use for worship ("sunday best") a "holy garment" like we read about in scripture. This is similar to a vestment of sorts. Not a clergical vestment but similarly "vesting" in a way that when in the sactuary we appear before God as His people; humble and with humility....penitant. This has changed radically; particularly with orthodox women today with all the hair does, make-up, jewelry not to mention the fit of the clothing I see these days. I am not trying to sneak in a hidden topic or agenda here I am just trying to show that the laymen has somehow been left to his/her own devices today and thus has little 'sense' of connectivity and purpose withing the faith and the church. Burning incense may help with prividing a centeredness with the holiness of the faith and church practice. This will also allow the whole family to share in the the richness of prayer especially non-believers. Of course it is a good intro to potential converts

I find that incense used in a burner with coals are the only way to go. If the stick or other types are the best a person can do than by all means.

Ask your priest for prayers fitting to be done over the incense as you place them on the coals. This is not a must but it wil add to your spiritual intention and raise the circumstances of "burning incense" above common.

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« Reply #23 on: September 20, 2007, 10:38:05 PM »

I would seriously doubt that. There is no way the majority of the world's Orthodox Christians use incense at home -- not now, not in the medieval period and certainly not in antiquity. There are pockets of Orthodox that do so now in the post-Industrial age, since products like hand censers and incense are inexpensive compared to average disposable income and easy to obtain.
Pensateomnia,

It seems as if my words have really troubled/ hurt you. Please accept my apologies. I did not mean to step on any toes.
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« Reply #24 on: September 20, 2007, 11:00:49 PM »

It seems as if my words have really troubled/ hurt you.

Not at all. No need to read any emotion into straight-forward statements.
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« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2007, 12:49:16 PM »

The use of stick incense is allowed, according to my spiritual father, if the source is Christian. Sadly most stick incense comes from the far east India, China, Southest Asia, and Japan---it is made traditionally by placing animal manure impermeated with sented oils on a stick for burning before idols.  The use of the manure makes it unacceptable for Orthodox use. 
Thomas

I beg your pardon for interjecting, but in the case of Japan at least (I would have to research China, but it doesn't sound familiar for that culture either) that is not the case. Japanese incense is based on such things as aloeswood, sandalwood, and such things.  While I'm not an expert on Shinto, the use of manure would not fit in the Shinto idea of purity.  The diaries and fiction from 1000 years ago have recipes for incense which was pounded together, shaped into balls and ripened before putting it on coals. The only animal ingredient that I remember is "Ground Shell" which is from mollusks I gather.  There is a tradition of the Incense Ceremony (rather like the Tea Ceremony).  Modern Japanese stick incense (which can be very nice "Shoyeido" is the maker I'm familiar with and they do make a Frankincense) follows in that tradition with emphasis on the purity and naturalness of the ingredients used.

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« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2007, 05:51:43 AM »

The use of stick incense is allowed, according to my spiritual father, if the source is Christian. Sadly most stick incense comes from the far east India, China, Southest Asia, and Japan---it is made traditionally by placing animal manure impermeated with sented oils on a stick for burning before idols.  The use of the manure makes it unacceptable for Orthodox use.

Begging your pardon, stick incense does not contain manure. The mixture is sandalwood paste.
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« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2007, 07:37:07 PM »

Lots of people use incense at home, with the little hand censer.  I wouldn't use stick incense.  Incense is connected with prayer.  There isn't anything I know of that would "prohibit" individual usage and only condone liturgica/work of the people/communal prayer.  The only thing I can think of that may have been the agent of prohibition in personal incense usage is if people can find and afford charcoal and incense.  Even today incense and charcoal aren't cheap, but they are easily to find in the USA.  Think about the three gifts, frankincense, gold and myrrh.  My one friend who is a priest from the middle east said when he was growing up if the priest gave you a piece of charcoal and some incense to use at home you felt like the luckiest kid in the world. 
Maybe the same reason Slavs use willow branches instead of palms is the same reason personal incense usage for home prayer isn't widespread:  the key ingredients for incense don't grow in Slavic countries!
But today with the global economy I can get frankincense shipped to my house from 6000 miles away.
Anyway, I wouldn't use stick incense.
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« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2007, 08:21:48 PM »

Many Orthodox use incense in front of their icons, particularly on major feast days.  You can buy the brass mini censers for home use from any Orthodox bookshop.

Greek women seem to have a habit of going through the rooms of the house with incense once a week.

Stick incense?   I've never been happy with it because of its non-Christian "feel" and also, when you get raided by the Police, they think you have been smoking marijuana.   Shocked
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« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2007, 08:48:34 PM »

Many Orthodox use incense in front of their icons, particularly on major feast days.  You can buy the brass mini censers for home use from any Orthodox bookshop.

Greek women seem to have a habit of going through the rooms of the house with incense once a week.

Stick incense?   I've never been happy with it because of its non-Christian "feel" and also, when you get raided by the Police, they think you have been smoking marijuana.   Shocked

Ummm... how often do you get raided by the police?
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« Reply #30 on: December 03, 2007, 08:55:34 PM »

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« Reply #31 on: January 28, 2009, 10:39:31 AM »

Monastery Icons, also makes a stick version of their regular incense. 
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« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2009, 11:55:36 AM »

The only animal ingredient that I remember is "Ground Shell" which is from mollusks I gather. 
Wow! I just noticed this Ebor! I didn't realize you had cornered the market on mollusks! It must take you quite a while to gather enough mollusks to satisfy the Japanese market though! Cheesy
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« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2009, 11:58:30 AM »

The use of stick incense is allowed, according to my spiritual father, if the source is Christian. Sadly most stick incense comes from the far east India, China, Southest Asia, and Japan---it is made traditionally by placing animal manure impermeated with sented oils on a stick for burning before idols.  The use of the manure makes it unacceptable for Orthodox use. 
Thomas

I beg your pardon for interjecting, but in the case of Japan at least (I would have to research China, but it doesn't sound familiar for that culture either) that is not the case. Japanese incense is based on such things as aloeswood, sandalwood, and such things.  While I'm not an expert on Shinto, the use of manure would not fit in the Shinto idea of purity.  The diaries and fiction from 1000 years ago have recipes for incense which was pounded together, shaped into balls and ripened before putting it on coals. The only animal ingredient that I remember is "Ground Shell" which is from mollusks I gather.  There is a tradition of the Incense Ceremony (rather like the Tea Ceremony).  Modern Japanese stick incense (which can be very nice "Shoyeido" is the maker I'm familiar with and they do make a Frankincense) follows in that tradition with emphasis on the purity and naturalness of the ingredients used.

Ebor

Yeah Thomas is way off base here for China too. From Wikipedia:

There are many forms of Chinese incense and its use and formulation theory is strongly tied to Traditional Chinese medicine and are still referred today as "fragrant medicines" (香藥). Use of incense in dynastic times was as much for promotion of bodily wellbeing as much as for veneration and religious ceremonies. As with Japanese incense, agarwood (沈香, chenxiang) and sandalwood (檀香, tanxiang) are the two most important ingredients in Chinese incense. Calibrated incense sticks and powders were used in both secular and religious Chinese culture for keeping time.
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« Reply #34 on: January 28, 2009, 02:04:40 PM »

Interesting picture of a Catholic shrine in Vietnam:

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« Reply #35 on: January 28, 2009, 02:07:34 PM »



My thoughts exactly, I agree.  Post of the year nominee!!
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« Reply #36 on: January 28, 2009, 03:38:14 PM »

Why can't people stick with the incense that is mentioned in Scripture
that was presented to the Holy Christ Child...This way God Doesn't consider it
strange incense ,Like in the old testement were two people caught fire...just a thought..
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« Reply #37 on: January 28, 2009, 05:31:02 PM »

Why can't people stick with the incense that is mentioned in Scripture
that was presented to the Holy Christ Child...This way God Doesn't consider it
strange incense ,Like in the old testement were two people caught fire...just a thought..

I agree. I think it is best to stick with insense that is used by the Church.
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« Reply #38 on: January 28, 2009, 05:41:04 PM »

Quote
Even today incense and charcoal aren't cheap,


WHAT?? Our local supermarket has both, imported from Greece, at less than three dollars a box for the incense (rose and jasmine, as well as the generic livani), and a bit less for the charcoal. The "ethnic" warehouse 10-15 minutes away has it even cheaper.

I can tell you that both the various Greek churches, and the Russian church in my town use this stuff. Of course, they bring out the really gorgeous (and more expensive) incense at major feasts, but the "mainstream" stuff is quite affordable.
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« Reply #39 on: January 28, 2009, 05:52:51 PM »

Ok,in China, Stick incense be used by everyone(Buddhists Taoists Musilims Jews...).I also know some orthodox use it all times...
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« Reply #40 on: January 28, 2009, 06:11:04 PM »

Why can't people stick with the incense that is mentioned in Scripture
that was presented to the Holy Christ Child...This way God Doesn't consider it
strange incense ,Like in the old testement were two people caught fire...just a thought..

Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire.
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« Reply #41 on: January 28, 2009, 07:00:58 PM »

They had to start the strange fire to offer the strange incense,,and then they went poof, up in a blaze...
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« Reply #42 on: January 29, 2009, 02:13:56 PM »

The only animal ingredient that I remember is "Ground Shell" which is from mollusks I gather. 
Wow! I just noticed this Ebor! I didn't realize you had cornered the market on mollusks! It must take you quite a while to gather enough mollusks to satisfy the Japanese market though! Cheesy
Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

Lucky for me that I wasn't taking a drink of coffee when I read that, OzGeorge!    Ah the hazards of the English language.  heheheh

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« Reply #43 on: January 29, 2009, 02:20:23 PM »

Why can't people stick with the incense that is mentioned in Scripture
that was presented to the Holy Christ Child...This way God Doesn't consider it
strange incense ,Like in the old testement were two people caught fire...just a thought..

Frankincense *is* an ingredient used in incense in Japan and China and other countries.  What does the form (lump/powder vs. stick) have to do with anything please?  And as has been noted, powdered incense is also used in different situations.  I'm sorry, but I don't understand why the shape/form matters.  Huh

Ebor
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« Reply #44 on: January 29, 2009, 04:40:45 PM »

What difference does it make! Good Lord this is like that one thread where a catechumen was worried they couldn't eat at an Indian restaurant. While we're at it we can't study karate, kung fu, yoga, Reflexology or a whole host of massage treatments. I swear some of you folks wouldn't change your underwear if you didn't have to. It's no wonder people don't want to join us because I can't stand this "I'm more Orthodox than thou" mentality either.
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« Reply #45 on: January 29, 2009, 07:05:11 PM »

I do not know for certain, but my feeling about the incense is that we offer the same "type" of incense during liturgy as was used in the Temple. Here's the relevant recipe and instructions for use in the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:34-38):

Quote
34 And the LORD said to Moses: “Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. 35 You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. 36 And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. 37 But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for the LORD. 38 Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

It says that is it to be "holy" and not used for enjoyment or other purposes. Could this be why Fr. Andrew thought we shouldn't use the other incense?
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« Reply #46 on: January 30, 2009, 05:20:41 PM »

Well, even with the recipe from Exodus, what do you mean by "type" please?  That it should only be fine powdered?  I haven't seen all kinds of liturgical incense, but not all of it is a fine powder.  If you mean the ingredients, there's "stacte" which could be storax or it could be something else.  What plant is meant isn't clear.  Onycha is part of a mollusk.  Is that ingredient used in liturgical incense for EO parishes?  Is "sweet spices" something else besides the stacte and onycha and galbanum?

So do you mean "type" as in recipe or as in form?

Ebor
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« Reply #47 on: January 30, 2009, 05:26:06 PM »

Wikipedia has a good summary of the ingredients that went into the Biblical recipe for incense:

Quote
The Rabbis taught: How is the incense mixture formulated? Three hundred and sixty eight mina were in it: three hundred sixty five corresponding to the days of the solar year - a mina for each day, half in the morning and half in the afternoon, and three extra mina, from which the Kohen Gadol would bring both his handfuls [into the Holy of Holies] on Yom Kippur. He would return them to the mortar on the day of Yom Kippur, and grind them very thoroughly so that they would be exceptionally fine. Eleven kinds of spices were in it, as follows: (1) stacte; (2) onycha; (3) galbunum; (4) frankincense - each weighing seventy mina; (5) myrrh; (6) cassia; (7) costus - twelve mina; (10) aromatic bark - three; and (11) cinnamon - nine. [Additionally] Carshina lye, nine kab; Cyprus wine, three se'ah and three kab - if he has no Cyprus wine, he brings old white wine; Sodom salt, a quarter-kab; and a minute amount of maaleh ashan
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« Reply #48 on: January 31, 2009, 02:51:36 PM »

I love using incense in my private prayers. I see them as liturgical and I also indever to sing instead of simply say the prayers. I find that this allows for an assult on the senses that draws me closer to God and aids me in my worship. I use incense that I buy from the local Catholic monastery. It appears to be gum from tree extractact and oil.
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« Reply #49 on: January 31, 2009, 03:01:56 PM »

I love using incense in my private prayers. I see them as liturgical and I also indever to sing instead of simply say the prayers. I find that this allows for an assult on the senses that draws me closer to God and aids me in my worship. I use incense that I buy from the local Catholic monastery. It appears to be gum from tree extractact and oil.

If it's lumps/grains of a lighter brown/tan it's most likely frankincense which is a gum from a tree/shrub. Darker brown is often myrrh.  Other ingredients may be spices, essential oils and other gums.  I made a study of incense ingredients years ago and we still have a stock of various items in the house.

Thank you for the link on the recipe yBeayf.  There's still the question of just what is "stacte".  Then I wonder what "aromatic bark" might be.  I can think of several things.  It's interesting that it lists both cassia and cinnamon. While today the two are both sources of cinnamon for cooking and fragrance, though they're different but related trees. (Amazing what you can find out in a spice and herb catalogue  Wink )   I've read that "cassia" was often what is also called "Senna" which is a legume and quite different.

Something else that occurs to me is, in the question of "type" as recipe, what are the ingredients of incense used in EO liturgy?  Iirc from when I've been to such services, there's a strong frankincense component.   

Ebor
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« Reply #50 on: January 31, 2009, 09:47:33 PM »

Ebor, the word stacte (also spelled stachte or stakhti)), means ash in Greek. Hope this helps.
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« Reply #51 on: January 31, 2009, 11:44:36 PM »

Thanks, LBK, but not really.  There is some thought that the word refers to storax or benzoin/"gum Benjamin" which come from types of Sweetgum tree aka "liquidambar". 

But my point is that some of the posts hold that incense as used during prayer should be the same "type" and I want to know if that means the same recipe as given in the OT and if that is what is meant, is that the make-up of the incense used in EO liturgies?  If "type" means powder on coal or heat sources, why is that an important difference from sticks?  And just for the record, powdered incenses are used in Asian countries, too.

Ebor
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« Reply #52 on: January 31, 2009, 11:49:33 PM »

I don't think anyone has mentioned that many of the stick incenses that come from China and India are made from dung, so the are literally full of feces.

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« Reply #53 on: February 01, 2009, 12:42:18 AM »

That was mentioned up thread.  Japanese stick incense does not from all the sorts I know of or read about have any such thing in them.  Shinto places a great deal of emphasis on purity and such a substance would not be used for any incense there. Japanese incense in stick, cone, coil, powder or any other shape contains gums, woods, spices, and other substances depending on the recipe such as plum, ground shell, honey and others.

Nigula has posted that Chinese stick incense does not have that either and that it is also used in a powder form for such things as incense clocks.

Along with the shell, there are a few animal products that may be used such as musk or ambergris.

So if sticks do not have excrement, does that make it acceptable? 
 
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« Reply #54 on: June 26, 2009, 03:19:50 PM »

Hello everybody,

In our house we use incense (charcoal and small incenser) especially on Feast Days and on Sunday...for prayer, for the rooms of the house, for the icons, etc.  Kind of like I saw someone said here that Greek women do.  Ah, and on the contrary to another poster here...it is in Romania.  I don't really know what other Romanians do because I did not ask, perhaps this is one of those things that got passed down by the Greek/Russian practices in our family, who knows.  Anyhow, about "stick incense" ...I remember when I was in the states at an herb shop, a Coptic woman was talking to the store owner after buying incense and she was kind of shaking her head and saying that people use these in vain and as "entertainment" or something like that...and that in her religion these are to be used only for prayer and blessing...etc etc...I left before she finished.  Stick incense...I use to cover up smells...like those spray stuff people use, and anyhow many of them contain artificial substances, benzene, PAH etc. (not sure though).  I tried it once before an icon and didn't feel too good about it so I don't use it personally.  I break the charcoal in half and put a few pieces of incense sometimes.  Hope this helps (though I doubt it since it has already been said).

Peace! 
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« Reply #55 on: June 26, 2009, 05:23:55 PM »

I also use incense in front of my icons during prayer. While the granulated Frankincense is best, I find that it can be very overpowering for a small home (watch the smoke alarms) and use it on special occasions. Most times I opt to use stick incense that is a little more mild. I am mindful of where the incense is made and found this site a good resource: http://blackincense.com/aboutus.html
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« Reply #56 on: July 01, 2009, 05:38:45 PM »

When I attend DL, I do have to leave every so often ( incense gives me a headache, my eyes "hurt", and I my tongue does weird stuff,, Doc thinks its allergy related), I do this with many perfumes and collegnes also(both mens and womens). Anyone else fhave this problem when they attend DL or try and burn incense in their home?  Friends of mine burn incense and very aromatic candles, (no, they dont smoke pot, LOL, not everyone who burns incense smokes pot, thats funny), I will have to leave their house or ask to open windows. But other types of smokey stuff never has bothered me, like campfire smoke, fireplace smoke, even others cigs, cigars and pipe smoke have never affected me this way. I figure it must be the oils in incense and the candles
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« Reply #57 on: May 10, 2010, 04:38:54 PM »

The use of stick incense is allowed, according to my spiritual father, if the source is Christian. Sadly most stick incense comes from the far east India, China, Southest Asia, and Japan---

I am new to orthodoxy and my our priest was answering questions about the faith for me on Saturday before Vespors.  The last thing we discussed was setting up a small icon corner in my house.

During this conversation, my priest told me that he does use the stick incense in his home.  He had something to discuss with another parishner so my wife and I looked through the bookstore and found some things for our icon corner. 

After Vespers, I was talking to the bookstore owner and he revealed to me how he used to import many of the crosses and censors from Greece but then he found out that the Greeks were just middlemen and the items were actually being made in India, so now he just imports directly from india. 
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« Reply #58 on: May 10, 2010, 04:46:18 PM »

Then you wonder why Greece is in trouble. Shocked
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« Reply #59 on: May 10, 2010, 09:55:35 PM »

I was wondering what y'all thought?

Just use scented candles  angel
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« Reply #60 on: May 10, 2010, 10:36:28 PM »

Ummmm, I would just say that I think stick incense is sort of gross and unhealthy and gives me allergic reactions.
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« Reply #61 on: May 16, 2010, 04:44:14 PM »

I was always told stick inscence was "weed be gone" inscence, or something used to cover up the smell of a spent blunt.  So it kinda was a no no from the get go.
LOLZ! yeah i heard that too.

but im clean & sober & i use nag champa. i live in a studio so i cant risk a fire having oil wicks and what not. which is why i do sticks.
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« Reply #62 on: May 16, 2010, 05:43:31 PM »

Ummmm, I would just say that I think stick incense is sort of gross and unhealthy and gives me allergic reactions.

Why do you think it is "gross" and how would it be "unhealthy" compared to lump/granulated/powdered incense?  I'm just curious.  As to allergic reactions it could be the particular brand or some other factor/ingredient maybe. Japanese incense is not heavy nor suffocating in my experience, but the quality matters, too.

Ebor
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« Reply #63 on: May 17, 2010, 12:36:53 PM »

Generally speaking of the norm, the incense most often encountered in Orthodox churches everywhere is essentially pure Frankincense tears, perhaps due to traditional belief that this was one of the gifts of the Magi who sought the infant Jesus following His Nativity. Additionally, incense made with pure Rose Oil and Myrrh is also found in use at churches and monasteries. These forms of incense are usually burned in a special censer atop a lighted charcoal, both of which are specifically designed for liturgical use in this way.



When one travels to India and the Orient, however, Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist incense is normally burned in an incense urn filled with sand. Thus, it is made in stick form to allow multiple lighted incense sticks to be placed vertically upright in the censer at the same time, whereas wooden, soapstone or metal incense trays are often used in homes to burn a single incense stick alone. In these parts of the world, Temple incense is generally made from the most pure powder available derived from fragrant woods like Sandalwood, or from organic flowers or herbs like Patchouli and Nag Champa, mixed with pure oil and rolled onto sticks of varying length.



Modern day manufacture of this latter type of incense in various non-traditional scents is primarily intended for non-religious use as general air fresheners and deodorizers, and to cover over the smell of tobacco smoke or the lingering, tattletale smell of marijuana and other popular illegal drugs. These are often made of inorganic chemical scents mixed with generic wood powder and oil, which is then also rolled onto sticks. These would never be accepted for formal religious use in the Far East due to their inorganic impurities.

Cosmos


 
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« Reply #64 on: November 28, 2010, 08:51:36 PM »

Greetings in that divine and most precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Of coarse, I will accept his counsel, but I was wondering what y'all thought?

Well, personally, I don't much see the point of using incense in private devotions, since doing so divorces the incense from its liturgical context. However, were I to use it, I would want to maintain as much continuity and similarity as possible to Orthodox liturgical practice. Thus, stick incense is right out. Only incense made specifically for liturgical worship will do.

P.S. How is this a "Faith" issue?

I personally use stick incense for my home prayers in the morning and evening, but it is indeed important to find the right kind of stick incense.  In Ethiopian tradition we have our own stick incense, but here in the US it is practically unavailable and so I found a good substitute.  The only authentic stick incense I know of and use that is actual incense, true frankincense and myrrh blends, is the HEM brand (and Indian brand) which is used by Hindus and Buddhists in their prayers as they only use stick incense.  The classic stick incense, called "weed be gone" on this thread, use wooden sticks and all smell the same like a burning match with resin, but these HEM use a kind of light wood that burns clean.  The incense burns as pure and clean as a pure frankincense crystal on a charcoal, and is much easier and practical to use around the house. They sell pure myrrh and pure frankincense and also a blend, and they are not dedicated to idols like Nagg Champa or other kinds of Indian incense. I highly recommend them for devotional use.

Why else would Orthodox suppliers sell incense, charcoal, and mini cencers for the home altar? My priest encourages us to use incense at home. I'm OCA, but I've heard the Antiochians do likewise.

 
Its not that Orthodox Christians don't use these at home, I know many families from the Coptic and Tewahedo tradition that burn coal and censer incense for devotional use, and so surely the retailers offer them to this market, but I understand that primarily these things are sold not for private use, but as devotional offerings for people to give to the Church.  Myself and many others give incense to the priests with our oblations and offerings, as well as other devotional items. 

stay blessed,
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« Reply #65 on: November 28, 2010, 09:53:32 PM »

Interesting picture of a Catholic shrine in Vietnam:



I honestly think this sort of thing might be a good idea for Orthodox missions in East Asia. It would be a much more familiar form of the same kind of devotion we give when we light candles.
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« Reply #66 on: November 29, 2010, 11:43:32 AM »

well, I think stick incense is not for prayer.  in our prayer life, (I think) we should use authentic Orthodox means of worship.  we don't pray from a Lutheran prayer book in front of Statues of the saints, do we?  also, all of my new-age hippie-dippie friends burn stick incense nonstop in their bedrooms, for "clearing crystals" or "drawing spirits" or whatever.  I think that a hand censor, (those FABULOUS) self-lite charcoals, and some good ol' Ethiopian frankincense (that's what we use in my parish) would be most beneficial to prayer.  I'd like my prayer corner to smell like my Church, not the flea market or local metaphysical shop.
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« Reply #67 on: May 27, 2011, 04:59:39 PM »

well, I think stick incense is not for prayer.  in our prayer life, (I think) we should use authentic Orthodox means of worship.  we don't pray from a Lutheran prayer book in front of Statues of the saints, do we?  also, all of my new-age hippie-dippie friends burn stick incense nonstop in their bedrooms, for "clearing crystals" or "drawing spirits" or whatever.  I think that a hand censor, (those FABULOUS) self-lite charcoals, and some good ol' Ethiopian frankincense (that's what we use in my parish) would be most beneficial to prayer.  I'd like my prayer corner to smell like my Church, not the flea market or local metaphysical shop.

Yes, for most Orthodox Christians, burning stick incense would not be for them. But it might be permissible, for the sake of evangelism, for converts from Asian backgrounds (like myself) to use familiar  symbols and images. Just like how Greek pagan ideas were "baptized" in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #68 on: May 27, 2011, 09:33:08 PM »

well, I think stick incense is not for prayer.  in our prayer life, (I think) we should use authentic Orthodox means of worship.  we don't pray from a Lutheran prayer book in front of Statues of the saints, do we?  also, all of my new-age hippie-dippie friends burn stick incense nonstop in their bedrooms, for "clearing crystals" or "drawing spirits" or whatever. I think that a hand censor, (those FABULOUS) self-lite charcoals, and some good ol' Ethiopian frankincense (that's what we use in my parish) would be most beneficial to prayer.  I'd like my prayer corner to smell like my Church, not the flea market or local metaphysical shop.

And many East Asians might feel more comfortable if Church smells like the temples or house shrines they grew up around. 
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« Reply #69 on: June 22, 2011, 10:37:44 PM »

Quote
Yes, for most Orthodox Christians, burning stick incense would not be for them. But it might be permissible, for the sake of evangelism, for converts from Asian backgrounds (like myself) to use familiar  symbols and images. Just like how Greek pagan ideas were "baptized" in Orthodoxy.

Forgive me, if I seem to be intrusive or self promoting.  But I cannot help but respond at this point.  I want to thank the poster I have quoted for his/her insight.  

I am myself, a master perfumer, and an incense maker dedicated to the service of the Orthodox Church and serve all Christians of all traditions equally.  Because of this, I have a natural interest in threads here, such as this one, and have up till now, refrained from comment.  I have  a customer base that spans the globe and every concievable culture.  I even have many customers who are "outside the Church/Faith", who routinely order from me/my company, simply because we/I produce a superior product.  Mediocrity of any form has no place in Christianity and so of course, I would of necessity agree, that using stick incense imported from certain countries and containing various questionable ingredients, is inappropriate even for home use.  Having said that, I must say that many Christians in Kerala, India, routinely use stick / cone incense because that is what is available to them and they cannot afford "Athonite" style.  Likewise, for Christians in the middle east.  

In Ethiopia, it is common for people to simply burn granular frankincense and myrrh, untreated, and straight from the harvest fields (Tigray perhaps) as this is most affordable to them.  In Iran, where I have lived, Persian Christians often make their own stick and cone incense from sandalwood powder.  
In Egypt, there are Coptic perfumers who specialize in making church incense, specifically for the churches there, and I have never known a Copt or an Ethiopian, to turn up their nose at a quality made stick or cone incense.  

To this point I have found the above quote to be quite true:  I have experienced greatly positive response from gifts of sticks/cones I have made, when I have given them to people from the oriental/asian world.  Many have even come to visit an Orthodox church and later contacted me to tell me how much they enjoyed it.  They have told me they felt blessed and "accepted" by a "white" culture that took an interest in THEIR interest!

In contrast, I have actually been spit upon at a festival where I was selling my product, by a Christian, because it was not "traditional".  God bless the man who spit on me....I hope and pray for him, that he will learn to be more loving in his approach when he disagrees with what others are doing/saying. 

My purpose in this discussion, is not to self promote the products I make .  And by the way, I thank the poster above who long ago posted a link to my former website blackincense.com.  My purpose is to stress the importance of evangelism, and that rather than contempt, familiarity often breeds a sense of comfort, joy and peace.  Familiarity lends stability and practical "bridges" that we can build upon with LOVE, to reach other people with the Gospel of Christ.

It is this, and nothing else, which should be our aim.  Let us all, in peace and reverence, pray to the Lord, for the salvation of all peoples.  Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me a sinner.  


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« Reply #70 on: June 22, 2011, 10:45:14 PM »

Quote

And many East Asians might feel more comfortable if Church smells like the temples or house shrines they grew up around.  

Thank you for mentioning this.  I have heard this exact sentiment, from people of the Hindi, Muslim and Buddhist worlds, for the last several years.  

There is nothing inherently "wrong" with the scents/fragrances indiginous to these cultures.   A lotus flower, for example, is simply a flower, and as I recall, "...Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! "  Genesis 1.  31.


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« Reply #71 on: June 23, 2011, 10:23:30 AM »

well, I think stick incense is not for prayer.  in our prayer life, (I think) we should use authentic Orthodox means of worship.  we don't pray from a Lutheran prayer book in front of Statues of the saints, do we?  also, all of my new-age hippie-dippie friends burn stick incense nonstop in their bedrooms, for "clearing crystals" or "drawing spirits" or whatever.  I think that a hand censor, (those FABULOUS) self-lite charcoals, and some good ol' Ethiopian frankincense (that's what we use in my parish) would be most beneficial to prayer.  I'd like my prayer corner to smell like my Church, not the flea market or local metaphysical shop.

Really.  So God does not listen to prayers from my Lutheran prayer book, even though I have been Orthodox for 16 years?  I have burned stick incense, pure Frankincense, White Copal (my favorite for use outdoors during funerals), and about anything else that smokes and smells good.  I have not been struck by lightning yet.  What I will not burn is the incense made by many monks that is rolled in some form of powder (clay or talc) that fires up the athsma of anyone afflicted with the illness in church.  Amazingly, my athsmatic altar servers are not bothered by the Black Ethiopian resin and other incense resins that I have purchased over the years, including those from "new age" suppliers.  The sap from the tree has no religion.
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« Reply #72 on: June 23, 2011, 10:48:03 AM »

I know everyones opinion of Monastery Icons, but their incense was pretty good to use and they have turned some of their standard incense into stick form.  Personally, if an Orthodox distributor could develop a decent stick incense, I think it would be ideal for home use.  Less chance of starting a fire in ones house.  I'll have to check with the Yahoo group I'm on that deals with making incense and if its possible to make our own.
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« Reply #73 on: June 23, 2011, 11:02:49 AM »

well, I think stick incense is not for prayer.  in our prayer life, (I think) we should use authentic Orthodox means of worship.  we don't pray from a Lutheran prayer book in front of Statues of the saints, do we?  also, all of my new-age hippie-dippie friends burn stick incense nonstop in their bedrooms, for "clearing crystals" or "drawing spirits" or whatever.  I think that a hand censor, (those FABULOUS) self-lite charcoals, and some good ol' Ethiopian frankincense (that's what we use in my parish) would be most beneficial to prayer.  I'd like my prayer corner to smell like my Church, not the flea market or local metaphysical shop.

Really.  So God does not listen to prayers from my Lutheran prayer book, even though I have been Orthodox for 16 years?  I have burned stick incense, pure Frankincense, White Copal (my favorite for use outdoors during funerals), and about anything else that smokes and smells good.  I have not been struck by lightning yet.  What I will not burn is the incense made by many monks that is rolled in some form of powder (clay or talc) that fires up the athsma of anyone afflicted with the illness in church.  Amazingly, my athsmatic altar servers are not bothered by the Black Ethiopian resin and other incense resins that I have purchased over the years, including those from "new age" suppliers.  The sap from the tree has no religion.

I agree with most of this, but I think trees are Orthodox.
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« Reply #74 on: June 23, 2011, 11:20:17 AM »

Personally, if an Orthodox distributor could develop a decent stick incense, I think it would be ideal for home use.  Less chance of starting a fire in ones house.  

http://desertfathersincense.com/incense.html#Stick

I've heard from others that the stick incense here is very good, and the person who makes it is a devout Serbian Orthodox.
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« Reply #75 on: June 23, 2011, 11:27:02 AM »

Personally, if an Orthodox distributor could develop a decent stick incense, I think it would be ideal for home use.  Less chance of starting a fire in ones house.  

http://desertfathersincense.com/incense.html#Stick

I've heard from others that the stick incense here is very good, and the person who makes it is a devout Serbian Orthodox.

I checked out their site and I like what I see.  Thanks.
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« Reply #76 on: July 10, 2011, 11:59:07 PM »

I know this is an old thread but there is an Orthodox producer of stick and cone incense now. They are called Desert Father's incense, formerly Black Powder Incense. The formulas and prayers used to make them are traditional, the only difference is the form. They also offer incense holders for stick and cone forms made by Malankara Christians from India. 

I can personally attest to how rich and fragrant their products are, esp. the St. Ambo blend, which is my favorite. The fragrance is so strong the empty box the order came in made my car smell like a prayer corner for three or four days. The cones are basically just incense infused charcoal and they last about 20 min. to a half hour…which is perfect for morning or evening prayers. Anyway…for those interested or who prefer sticks or cones there no need to get cheap quality products from the grocery store
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« Reply #77 on: May 26, 2012, 02:31:05 AM »

In India people use incense daily above the icons and statue of God. An incense is an very essential part of the prayer, the incense purifies the air and gives an aromatic fragrance which calms the mind and improves focus and concentration while praying.
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« Reply #78 on: May 26, 2012, 11:09:28 PM »

In Chinese temples, of any religion, it is standard for worshipers to offer stick incense in urns in front of images of deities, Buddhas, etc. It is comparable to the candle offerings made before various icons in Orthodox churches. I think stick incense should be allowed in this capacity in Orthodox churches in East Asia.
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« Reply #79 on: May 29, 2012, 12:46:20 AM »

I agree, but the difference between candle and stick incense is the smoke coming out of the incense although it exhales an aromatic fragrance which represents the prayer of godly people.
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« Reply #80 on: June 16, 2012, 10:17:25 PM »

I always buy from this source:

http://desertfathersincense.com/incense.html#Stick

They offer stick incense for Orthodox Christian devotional use.
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« Reply #81 on: June 17, 2012, 12:28:15 AM »

I always buy from this source:

http://desertfathersincense.com/incense.html#Stick

They offer stick incense for Orthodox Christian devotional use.


Yeah, they're good.
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« Reply #82 on: August 09, 2012, 12:54:27 PM »

The stick incense I use actually inspires you to use less and less after you burn at least 20 sticks.
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