Saturday, May 26, 2012

K is for Kyphi

Egyptian Kyphi is a sacred incense used in ritual work, especially in kemetic magick. Recipes for it vary and many are passed down from one generation to another.

I have never made kyphi. I've only burned what was supposed to be kyphi incense, which was in stick form and bought at the local head shop, once in all my life and can't really tell you how it smells - I know, I'm horrible. What attracted me to the idea of making this post, however, was not my own experience with this product but other's.

The recipes online vary...a lot. And there's even kits to make this stuff but they're pretty expensive. I'm so curious as to if there are any recipes dating back to during or before the time of Alexandria's prosperity - when the Greeks used kyphi as an aphrodisiac and the Egyptians were no doubt offended by such a usage.

Rowan in a forum wrote "This was a sticky sucker, but I was very pleased with the result. I compounded it, let it sit for a few weeks, then went back and ground it with the sacred coffee grinder. It only improves with age.

  • 4 parts sweetgrass 
  • 4 parts cypress 
  • 4 parts lemon grass 
  • 2 parts cedar 
  • 2 parts juniper berries 
  • 3 parts frankincense 
  • 3 parts copal 
  • 1/2 part myrrh 
  • Port wine 
  • Honey (cooked down to thicken) 
  • Prunes 

Grind snipped prunes with wine and myrrh. Grind in other ingredients one at a time. Add honey gradually. Let sit to age. Break apart (this is a sticky one!) and grind down again. I use a mortar and pestle for most of the first compounding; then I use a coffee bean grinder for the final grind. i would let it sit at least at least a few months after the final grind to develop."

Gypsy Magic Blog has a vague recipe for Kyphi that she has not tried but says looks "adventurous" and asks that if you do make this recipe to let her know how it went. I will say that with the henna and the acids of the other ingredients, this recipe is one for a very red-brown dye and WILL STAIN! So we're gloves when making and don't put anywhere that you don't want hennaed.

Moma Sarah posted about the first stage of her kyphi recipe and mentions that it was a recipe handed down in her family AND takes quite some time to produce. In total she will be using 16-17 different ingredients and it will take 30 days to create.

From what I can tell, kyphi is not for the novice incense maker. I've seen so many different ingredients, arguments on how to let it settle and how long, even arguments over the types of ingredients (black or white copal, fresh apricots or dried, essential oils or no essential oils). It takes a lot of time, energy and ingredients - and the know how of finding a good recipe if you don't already have one passed down to you.

There are some places that sell ready made kyphi, kyphi incense, or even oils. I think it would be more fun, rewarding and spiritual to make your own though...right?

Friday, May 25, 2012

K is for Kabbalah

Kabbalah (aka Cabala or Qabala) according to the Llewellyn encyclopedia is "A mystical system which forms the mystical underpinnings for the three major Western religions as well as for modern Ceremonial Magick. The word is transliterated Hebrew, and is spelled in English in various ways...a complete system of knowledge about all the dimensions of the universe and of the human psyche organized into "the Tree of Life" diagram showing the inner construction and the connections between levels and forms of consciousness, energy, and matter. It provides a resource for understanding and applying the principles of Magick, for understanding the dynamics of the psyche, and for interpreting human history and action. The present-day Tarot specifically relates to the Tree of Life."

That's a lot to wrap my head around >.<

To me, Kabbalah is a spiritual belief system and practice that stems from Judaism.
I had never had an interest in Kabbalah until I ran into the book Simple Kabbalah by Kim Zetter. I read it all in one day while vacationing at the lake house and it got my head spinning. If I someone had explained this stuff to me when I was younger in the way that Zetter did in this book I would have probably stayed in church.

The best lesson I've received so far was from that book and it was the Kabbalistic break down of the very first verse of the Bible Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
This verse took a few chapters to break down, just to give you an idea of the in-depth outlook on the Bible these scholars have. I don't want to copy all of the chapters here but I will say that in the end the true translation should read "In the mind, God created God and the alphabet of the heavens and the alphabet of the Earth." Don't have a clue as to what that means? Read her book - its enlightening.

Ever since reading that book, I have had a further interest in Kabbalah. I'd love to have a set of books called the Kabbalistic Bible, specifically Genesis and Revelations (which notably are the most studied books of the Bible where Kabbalah is concerned).

Looking back at this post, it's not very detailed on the subject but the said subject is so vast and detailed it's hard to put it all in one lil blog post. My suggestion is if this sounds like something you're interested in, learn more either online or through one of the books I've mentioned.