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?

1 comment:

Scherazade said...

Hi there,
I blended Kyphi for the first time ever a week ago, and it's still drying in my airing cupboard. Having bought my first Censer today, curiosity got the better of me and I thought I'd smoulder a pellet...well its definitely not ready yet, and needs longer to dry and mature. Instinct is telling me to leave it for at least one cycle of the moon...however, I was getting some strands of fragrance from amidst the burning charcoal, so I am optimistic that it has potential, and I have heard that it matures...a bit like a fine wine, perhaps!
When I was working on it, I really felt positive in the sense that I was connecting to an ancient practice. It was an enjoyable experience, and I am definitely a novice incense maker, but anyone interested should just go for it! It was easier to make than I anticipated, however it can be tricky sourcing some of the ingredients...but don't be afraid to make substitutions if you have to. The best thing to do is try...because you can always try again! Sometimes,for myself,the best way to learn is to have a go...and perhaps I will fashion my own family version in the process!
The recipe that I used was from,'Incense,'by Gina Hyams.
Blessed Be!