November 13, 2008


The scent of burning incense evokes a mixture of feelings in me. Not just a sense of serenity, but it also induces the mysterious, enigmatic and spiritual. Burning of incense reminds me of small alternative shops selling magic healing stones, tarot cards and astrology books.
But it also reminds me of home.

About a decade ago I was without a home for about 6 months. I was forced to move around, like a vagabond. Every two weeks, I had to pack my belongings into my small car and move. It was a depressive time, which I do not recall fondly.
I hated the constant change and the fact that I did not have a safe, secure place –a home- to return to. I hated the uncertainty of my situation and the helplessness of being unable to change it. But I had one thing that was constant and familiar – the burning of incense. Every time I moved to a new place, I lit the incense and the familiar scent spread around, putting my senses to ease, making each new place less estranged, making that place a home, even though only a temporary one.

Today I still enjoy this little ceremony, as it reminds me of how fleeting everything in life is and how easy we can loose the things we own and hold dear.


Hilary said...

I love incense - though I have a hard time finding scents that I do enjoy. Very often they're overly perfumed, and I hit my saturation point long before they've burned out. I tend to only burn it in the cooler months. Maybe incense along with candles are my makeshift fireplace since I don't have one of those.

I can see why it would feel like home for you. The sense of smell is almost alarmingly tied in with memory, and the good association with the smell of incense would instantly put you at ease.

I love that picture of the smoking incense stick.

Diane said...

Here is where we differ... I have 'smell' issues (allergies? sensitivitity? something!). I have difficulty with anything scented in the house. When Ryan used to get into her babysitter's perfume, I'd have to drive her home with the windows open and then she'd get right into the tub!! :) But I definitely understand how smells are tied to memory. Jane! did a great post about that yesterday :)

Donna said...

I'm not an incense person, but I do love candles.

Zuzana said...

Hilary and Diane, thank you both for your wonderful comments.

I know what you both mean about the "too" perfumed incense sticks. Some of them make me likewise nauseated.
I have spent some time in various stores finding incense that is just right; lightly scented, with a hint of citrus or orange, cinnamon or patchouli. I often place the sticks close to windows, in a reasonable distance from me, but still so they are within my “gazing” reach and possible to watch. I find it so relaxing to watch the smoke.:)

The fact that a smell is tied to a memory is fantastic, especially with scents we have not been exposed to for while.

Hilary, I can understand that you must miss having a fireplace; I just could not be without mine.
Thank you for the compliment on the photograph.

Zuzana said...

Donna, I have millions of candles all over the house and they are being used every day, especially now in November.:)

Melanie Gillispie said...

I love incense! I feel like I'm always buying some, so I end up with sticks and sticks of them in little plastic bags in random drawers. I like the rain or water or fresh air scents.

Holly said...

OH, YOU ARE SUCH A KINDRED SPIRIT!!! I love incense,...and candles. I love all of the different places scent can take you. All of the emotions it can provoke, and the burried memories that it can call back. Scent is almost magically powerful. I love that you would light a new incense like a ritual whenever you were forced to re-locate. What a soothing way to feed your spirit.

And, did I miss that GORGOUS rose,...right in the middle of your cold dreary winter. Mother Nature must have known that you needed that little 'pick me up.'

. said...

There's just something about your timing! Incense....I'm going to burn some right now. That feeling of home and of warmth....perfect!

Last year I moved out of an apartment I had lived in for eight years. For a year I was a bit of a nomad. Not having my own "space" was tougher than I could have imagined it would be, even though I was surrounded by loving people during that time. In that year I would burn incense when I needed that feeling of warmth.

I need that feeling now, and don't know why I haven't thought of my incense sticks! I've been in my new apartment for about five months now. Can't believe I've waited so long. So, thank you!!!!

And, thank you for your kind words on my blog. Thank you for reaching out.

Tom said...

Dear Protege - I read your blog today after reading your very kind comments that you left on mine. I am so glad I came here as it's a wonderful read and I love your photos. Your blog is definitely now on my reading list!

As for incense, I've never really tried it but I do use scented candles - mainly to hide the smell that the cats sometimes leave behind!

Zuzana said...

Mel, those scents are very nice. I also have different kinds of incense in a few different drawers all over the house. Some are even so called “traveling” ones, in a small packages, easy to take on trips.:))

Holly, I know we are so VERY similar in our ways.;) Candles are my “everything” in the autumn and winter. I light candles all over the house and even outside the front door, to make it inviting. I also agree: it is wonderful the effect a scent has on us and the memories it can evoke.
The rose was indeed a wonderful surprise; I just could not resist taking the picture and sharing it.:)

Belle, I am so happy this post brought some positive thoughts your way, as I know you need them so much now. I hope you did light the incense and that it did ease your mind. It warms my heart to know I gave you something nice to think about and to experience when everything else seems to weight so heavy on your heart.

Tom, thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments!:))) I love your site! I will follow your writing as well; as your location, your occupation and your style intrigues me a great deal.
Give the incense a try, you are in a perfect place to lit one on a warm Hawaiian night.;)

j. said...

I like this post.. because incense means something special to me too.. and we have (i suppose) similar experiences in relation to constantly moving around. :-) incense reminds of the days I spent with my dad and his band of merry friends-- moving from province to province every few days-- just spreading music and cheer.. I loved the "nomad" life but I would always need a nice stable place to go home to. :-)


Zuzana said...

Valentine, how extraordinary to find someone who connects the scent of incense with childhood and being on the move; a turbulent yet wonderful time I am sure. I so understand the life of a nomad and too identify with the need for stability.
Thank you so much for stopping by. :)