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To: alt.religion.wicca
From: "Mike Gleason" 
Subject: BOOK REVIEW - Incense
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 21:17:22 GMT

Incense  by Carl F. Neal   2003   Llewellyn Worldwide  103 pages +
Appendices, Glossary and Index    ISBN 0-7387-336-2   $15.95 (U.S.)

I have been burning loose incense on self-lighting charcoal for decades.
For me it was the only way to go.  Then I started reading this book and saw
the differences and advantages and disadvantages of various types of

Mr. Neal takes the time to explain the various types of incenses and incense
burners as well as thoroughly explaining preparation and storage techniques.
He not only tells you how to do it, but explains the pluses and minuses of
each technique.

Some of his ideas for forming the incense are truly unique.  I, for one,
would never have thought of drinking straws as a mold (see page 54).  He
takes the time to let you which techniques and tools will work best (in his
opinions), and which should be avoided (and why).

He includes 16 pages of recipes, including a wide variety of formulas from
very simple to complex.  I haven't had the opportunity to make many of these
recipes, but I have confidence that, if you take the necessary time to make
and dry your incense, you will be pleased with the results.

His troubleshooting guide should answer most of your questions, or at least
start you on the right path to finding your own answers.  He freely
acknowledges that incense making is part science and part art, so you may
have to develop your own answers as you go along.

Unlike many authors, he does not discourage the reader from experimenting.
He does provide some suggestions to make your experimentation more fruitful
(keep copious notes), reasonably priced (make tiny quantities until you are
sure you want to make more), and safer (avoid noxious and/or harmful

I would recommend that you use this book in conjunction with a good herbal
or two.  The ingredient list he includes provides a basic starting point for
your own experiments, although it is not anywhere near extensive - a point
Mr. Neal freely acknowledges.

This is one of the most readable books on the subject of incense I have read
in many years.  The author has his own, very firm opinions, about the ethics
of incense ingredients (among other things), but he is honest enough to tell
you that those are just that - his opinions.  He repeatedly reminds the
reader that if his statements conflict with the training of the reader's
individual training, then it is up to the reader to decide on the correct

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