Follow your desires because you are alive. Place myrrh on your head. Dress yourself in the finest linen drenched in precious fragrances. It is a true gift from the gods.Multiply your pleasures. Don’t let your heart become tired. Follow your desires and your pleasures.
–Song of the Harpist, Egypt, 2000 BCE
I am just loving my return to school this Spring! My studies of mythology and ancient civilization have inspired me to make a fresh batch of that aromatic marvel of antiquity – Kyphi!
Several recipes for Kyphi, a sacred incense, still exist today. One recipe is, in fact, carved into the very walls of the Temple at Edfu in Egypt, built 237-57 BCE in honor of the god Horus. (The temple is pictured above, with thanks to Ad Meskens, Wikimedia commons.) Another recipe was recorded by the Greek scholar and physician, Pedanius Dioscorides, who lived 40-90 AD and is best known for his Materia Medica, the first comprehensive, illustrated Herbal ever recorded.
I have adapted Arabesque Aroma’s Kyphi recipe from a 2nd century Syrian receipt. The process of making the incense, and the aromatic ingredients used, remain fundamentally the same in all of the variations. The incense is a concoction of fragrant, precious resins such as Frankincense, Myrrh, and Benzoin, with spices and fragrant roots such as Cinnamon and Galangal, all powdered them melded together with wine, raisins, and honey. The incense is then formed into bricks and cured in the sun until dry.
Incense has long been used in human history to carry prayers, offerings, and supplication to the deities. Like both the sacred temple, and the ziggurat, the ancients regarded the act of burning incense — the rising smoke, the sweet fragrance, the most precious and valued of ingredients used — as a vehicle, a sacred space, a means to connect with the gods. The use of Frankincense in the Catholic mass originates from this pre-Christian practice.
I will be making this batch mid-March. Pre-orders are available now, and the Kyphi incense will ship by the end of this month.
And for those who are not lovers of smoke, even the most fragrant and decadent varieties, I have a unisex botanical perfume called “Kyphi” inspired directly by the incense.
In Further News…
Two new Sainted Scents will launch at the end of March, kicking off the 2014 Arabesque Aromas “A Year in Perfume” subscription. So stay tuned!
AND finally — I am having a flash sale from now until April 1st! Receive 28% off of 3 ml botanical perfumes in my etsy shop with the coupon code “Tuxedokitty”