This article first appeared in our COP26 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 05 November 2021. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Incense has been used for thousands of years, traditionally alongside worship and prayer.
Today it also supports meditation practices and can help to purify the home – a study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that burning wood and herbs for an hour slashed airborne bacteria by 94%.
Scent and heritage
Temple of Incense is a natural evolution of two sisters’ passion for scent. Simi and Sam Aydee started out with a little market stall on Portobello Road and the enthusiastic support of their parents. They worked side by side at markets, pop-ups and exhibitions.
‘Without our parents’ knowledge of scent and heritage, we may never have had the temple-quality incense we have today, and which is cherished all round the world’, Sam reveals.
Sam and Simi’s incense is natural, non toxic, vegan and made consciously by people who truly love what they do. They take the best possible ingredients for the 52 available fragrances and spare no cost for an unparalleled, luxurious burn. ‘There is no benefit to be had from cheap, unloved, chemical-filled incense’, Simi says.
Best incenses for the home
Incense smoke transforms every space into a sanctuary. It creates an atmosphere that encourages peace and mindfulness, making the space complete for yoga or meditation.
It also uplifts the spirit to help tackle the winter blues that loom at this time of year.
Simi and Sam’s top recommendation for the home is oudh, an ingredient priced above rubies. Known to be mentally and spiritually stimulating, oudh has a complex, earthy scent that’s long lasting and perfect for entertaining.
Real Mysore sandalwood is the best choice for meditation and yoga. Known in India as ‘Chandan’, meaning golden, it’s ideal for temple-at-home feels.
Honouring the divine feminine, Radha sticks are made to nurture love and relationships, making them perfect for family settings and romantic evenings.
The secret to burning incense is to light it in a spot that allows the smoke to travel through the room.
Light the tip of your incense stick until it flames. Simi advises taking a moment with the process and setting your intention when lighting your incense. ‘Notice how lighting your incense feels like the beginning of something?’, she says; ‘That’s because ritualistically, it is.’
Let the incense glow for up to 10 seconds, then fan the flame out. ‘We don’t blow it out, Sam tells us, ‘our grandmother always said it was bad luck!’
There are no strict rules around how often incense should be used in the home; ‘We’re obsessed’, Sam confesses, ‘so it’s once or twice a day for us.
Otherwise, a minimum of once a week to reset the energy would be beneficial – and always when you’ve got guests over – it’s a sure way to impress!’
What is smudging?
Getting rid of clutter and dust is the first step to a cleaner, happier space. After that, it has to be a space cleanse using an ancient purification ritual called ‘smudging’.
‘Smudging is a way of removing stale energy dust’, Simi explains. ‘Think of this energy dust as an accumulation of negative vibrations. This can be caused by feelings of sadness, fear, anger, illness or even unfriendly spirits. This stale, negative energy is undoubtedly harmful to us and can often be the reason for anxiety, poor sleep, lack of motivation, having unnecessary arguments in the household and just not feeling as comfortable as you should within your own space.’
For Sam and Simi, smudging with sage will do away with old, negative vibrations and replenish with positive, uplifting energies.