Beltane Incense Recipe

Supposedly, here in my home state of Illinois, the governor’s stay-at-home/self-quarantine order designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, an order issued on March 21, will be lifted on April 30: just in time for Beltane/May Day!

I fervently hope so because Beltane is the one Sabbat I automatically equate with group energy. It’s not that you can’t have a meaningful Solitary celebration, especially if it’s a devotional ritual to the Holy Powers Who govern the incoming tide o’ Summer, but dances ’round the balefires lit outdoors are just that much more enjoyable if the whole coven is involved!

Whether or not your observance is a group endeavor or a Solitary one, your Beltane ritual can be enhanced by a simple but sensual incense recipe that I’ve devised. Using a mortar and pestle, grind together the following:

  • 2 tbsp benzoin (I use Sumatran, but any kind will suffice)
  • 3 tbsp frankincense
  • 1 part Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
  • 1 part Elfwort, a.k.a. Elecampane (Inula Helenium)
  • 3 parts dried red rose petals
  • 1 part sandalwood (preferably red)

Once everything is ground to as fine a powder as you can get, stir in 5 drops of peach essential oil. Alternatively, use jasmine or rose oil.

Feel free to adapt this recipe slightly as a year-round recipe for Goddesses of Love. For Aphrodite, for example, I add 2 additional tablespoons of crushed rose incense (available at Greek Orthodox Churches as well as at occult/metaphysical supply shops) and 5 dried bay leaves. For Freyja, I would substitute the frankincense with 3 parts of crushed amber nuggets or beads, as well as amber oil or even a tablespoon of honey instead of the peach oil. No matter which way you go, the fragrance will be amazing and the incense will steadily burn: just be mindful that a little goes a long way!

No matter how gloomy and fear-driven the nightly news becomes, always remember that we are a part of, not apart from, the natural world and our birthright is one of wholeness and joy. An epiphany I received several years ago on my honeymoon while hiking around Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii  rings even more true today than it did when I first received it: “Life cannot be thwarted.”

So Mote It Be!

maypole weaving

My fun time weaving together a bamboo tree Maypole during a Beltane celebration, May 2006, Kapiolani Park, Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo (c) Kelly A. Varner.

3 thoughts on “Beltane Incense Recipe

  1. Ummm, I am super curious! Now, I must mention my blog, because I am anxious about how the “Wiccan Community” would respond to my Magic Modernization Project ( I fear you will despise it, because I reject old and traditional “theories” of magic, numerology, and astrology, and strive to empower children (not so much adults, because they are inflexible and unimaginative) with modern magic integrated with science, math, and technology. Surely, you would not abide, or be supportive of, such a project, or am I wrong?


    • I do not see magic and science as incompatible. All of magic resides in nature, there is nothing “outside” of nature, i.e., “supernatural.” Magic and astrology, historically, have always included mathematics.


  2. Ah, but what about the “Wiccan Community?” Furthermore, you must realize that a magic modernization project would essentially be an assault on cherished notions and traditions. The old magic is based on obsolete theories and delusions, and only works through the power of focused intention and social magic (or so the MMP asserts). There is nothing wrong with focused intention and social magic, and coincidental alignments of consciousnesses and energies, but the trick is understanding how and why things work, or not. Incense and flowers smell good, but they get you closer to god only if that is what you believe already, and “god” itself is a mental construction, made more powerful by compelled and enforced agreement.


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