I like incense. I like incense a LOT.
One of my favorite memories is my 13th birthday. It’s one that my father didn’t forget, which was miraculous. I had decided that I wanted nothing more in the world than a deck of tarot cards. I don’t even know how I knew about tarot cards at that age, but I did. I wanted them bad. And my dad, who was in the middle of divorcing my mom and moving on with his girlfriend at the time, felt guilty enough to shell out of them that year.
So we went to a bookstore here in Atlanta called ‘The Sphinx’. It had been there for decades, and it was lovely. It was musty with old books, dusty, dark, and mysterious. I knew I was home.
What struck me the most, however, is the overwhelming scent of incense in the air. They must have burned nag champa 24/7 to have built up such a rich scent that permeated the store. In fact, it permeated everything. It scented the shelves, the books, the dusty old curtains, and even your clothes if you spent too much time there.
To me, it smelled like the arcane. It smelled like ancient knowledge that I was there to unlock. It smelled like a ritual, because everything that happened at The Sphinx was magick to my young eyes.
I still have those tarot cards, purchased so many years ago. And yes, they still smell like incense. In fact, while I do my fair share of ordering books online, or purchasing eBooks, there’s nothing quite like the scent of books purchased at an actual metaphysical store. They ALWAYS smell like nag champa. I could probably go through my bookshelves and tell you which books I purchased at a metaphysical store by scent alone.
If you’ve only ever smelled one type of incense, this was probably it. It’s the ubiquitous scent of new age or metaphysical bookstores, Hindu temples, and hippie habitations. It’s been a pervasive scent in India for thousands of years. Most incense manufacturers have their own blend(s) of nag champa, but the basic ingredients are sandalwood and frangipani (plumeria) flower.
Perhaps the most commonly used brand is Nag Champa Incense Sticks 100 gms by Satya Sai Baba. The box may look familiar. I’d be surprised if it didn’t.
That same brand also offers a nag champa soap and a nag champa oil. Both are divine.
There are several other brand of nag champa incense as well. I particularly like Song of India’s version, though it can be tough to find. To find more varieties of nag champa, I recommend NagChampa.com. They have incenses, bath products, candles, pretty much anything you could want with a nag champa scent.
If, for some reason, you have managed to avoid the scent of nag champa throughout your life, get thee to the nearest metaphysical store or Indian grocery. It adds such a sense of the timeless mystical to your surroundings, and you won’t regret trying it!