Dragon’s blood and incense

Even when still living in the city, we burned incense in the house because we found it relaxing. Well, at least, that’s how Speedy and I feel about burning incense. Sam and Alex don’t like them and neither do they enjoy the smell of aromatic oil in burners — they hate fragrances including body cologne and the most they can tolerate is soap scent.

But incense and aromatic oil serve a good purpose. See, we have cats. Sometimes, when the windows have been kept closed for a long time, like when it rains for days, there is a distinct animal smell that stays even after the windows have been thrown open for hours. I’m not a fan of air fresheners in cans so I burn oil or incense instead. With the windows open to prevent the stuffy feeling from permeating the rooms, I light a couple of incense sticks and they do the work well. The hell with what die-hard wanna be environmentalists say.

Incense, of course, is heavily associated with religious mysticism. They were used by the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans before Chinese monks brought them to Japan after which incense burning became a staple in Buddhist rituals. Interesting trivia, really, but the more practical information has to do with kinds of incense. Kinds? Yes, incense sticks are made with different materials.

casaveneracion.com incense

Expensive incense contain solid aromatic materials such as wood barks (cassia, sandalwood, cedar), fruits (star anise, vanilla beans) and resins (camohor, myrrh, Dragon’s blood). If you have read Happy Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, or seen the film version, you’ll recall that scene where Dumbledore and Harry visited Horace Slughorn to convince him to return to Hogwarts to teach. When they entered the house, there was a bright red substance on the ceiling that looked like blood. Slughorn later admitted it was dragon’s blood. When you’re in the midst of reading or watching Harry Potter, it is easy to take something like that literally and conclude that dragon’s blood must mean what it says especially since dragons had been previously introduced in book four of the Harry Potter series.

However, it is also possible that the dragon’s blood referred to in the story is actually the bright red resin taken from several varieties of trees. Dragon’s blood was used as dye and medicine by the ancient Romans, Greeks and Arabs and as varnish by 18th century Italian violin makers. Dragon’s blood is also an ingredient for making incense although we still have to find commercially available incense sticks that count Dragon’s blood among the ingredients. For now, we have to content ourselves with the kind that contains essential oils derived from flowers. They’re cheaper but not lacking in fragrance. That’s rose-scented incense in the photo.

Do all incense come in the form of sticks? No, actually. You’ll find incense coils as well (found some in Unimart last Saturday) which are hung before lighting (see photo). Okay for temples, I suppose, but too much for a house. And the thought of how to catch the ash that falls boggles my mind.


  1. says

    Aromatherapy was my form of relaxation when I was still single. But when I got married and had babies, I stopped the habit because I read somewhere that certain oils have not-so-good effects to babies and toddlers. Now that I have three kids and my youngest will turn 3 in October, do you think I can now go back to burning oils? I miss the smell of the oil and its relaxing effect.

          • pat says

            Hi Ms. Connie! Have u heard of “kamangyan”? my grandmother used to burn them for what they call “pausok”…probably to drive away bad spirits from the house…can you tell me something more about it? Thanks.

          • says

            i surfed the internet to know what this dragon’s blood resin is and i enjoy your chats and your all talking from manila I think, i wonder if i can buy it here in davao city. any suggestions where to buy here. thanks. my purpose is this ……please read on…
            Rose Ariadne’s Dragon Peace And Happiness Spell
            STEP 1: “Pulverize” (grind) some dragon’s blood
            (If you don’t have some already, look for your
            nearest new age shoppe, or a quick google
            search will find many sources…)
            STEP 2: Blend the resulting poweder together
            with salt and sugar.
            STEP 3: Put this powder inside a matchbox.
            STEP 4: Place the matchbox in a white envolope
            and seal it.
            STEP 5: Decorate the envelope with your favorite
            Magickal symbols, peace symbols, harmony symbols.
            These only need to mean something to you.
            STEP 6: Hide the envelope somewhere in your
            house so that ONLY you know where it is.
            This is important…nobody else can know where
            it is hidden.
            Then… sit back and watch the Magick… and
            feel the peace and happiness fill your heart
            and your house over the next days.
            I can’t think of anything better than peace
            and happiness of the heart.
            And it’s something I want you to have more
            than anything.
            Work on this one, and then we’ll be ready
            to do some wonderful group rituals together
            when Samhain arrives in just a few weeks.


          • carmen factora says

            Mila was referring to reed diffusers. You have to invert the reeds every so often to replenish the oils. At Pier I, $12.00 a bottle. Lasted one year in a small bathroom with no windows. A worry-free way to scent a room-you’ll like it.
            When you’re out of incense, candles, try sprinkling cinnamon on simmering water while cooking fish indoors. You’re asking for trouble when you cook fish on humid, rainy days. For that, spray Febreeze on draperies, carpeting. Really works.

  2. emy M says

    Scented candles are now forbidden at our house when my daughter ruined our carpet and I almost burned our house.
    Occasionally,I use lavender scented incense specially
    after frying fish.Love it!
    Those incense coils are interesting.

  3. says

    LOL And I was thinking whether we should try scented candles next time (we never have because they’re so darn expensive). Wag na lang talaga. Pang brownout na lang talaga kandila.

  4. says

    good to see a new entry, kala ko you’ll be doing household chores all week. hahaha.

    about the coil incense, maybe you could have a special carpet exclusively for catching the ashes. hahaha.

    or could just let the coils stand on a surface instead of hanging them just like in the picture. di naman siguro mababali yung mga yun if you let them stand with the smaller side down.

  5. May Uy says

    When you wrote coil, yung itsura ng katol ang naisip ko :)
    There’s this great shop sa Shang(Mall) that sells incense sticks,oils and candles – Reverie ba yun? They used to occupy the Candy Corner booth, ngayon may sarili na silang shop – bongga! :)

    2nd floor ata yun if I am not mistaken, mabango yung magnolia incense nila @10pesos per stick. Meron din silang candles that smells like cookies, etc. :)

    Kumusta, nakasaing ka na ba? (haha biro lang!) Wala din kaming katulong for so long dahil sa trust issues. Mas minabuti na lang namin ng kami-kami na lang at umupa ng planchadora. The rest kanya-kanya/tulong-tulong na lang. :)

  6. says

    Hudas ka. I’m not obsessing with house chores ha. One chore a day, except the cooking.

    The nice thing about the coil is that it’ll burn on and on and on…

  7. says

    Alam ko yan. Sa ibaba ng escalator? Haven’t been there in months.

    Hindi ako nagsaing tonight kasi pasta dinner namin hehehehe Will post tomorrow. Pasta with lamb and fresh herbs. :)

  8. Mila says

    Have you tried those immersed sticks in fragrant oils? I keep seeing them in decorating mags, and I think one store started selling them in Makati a few years ago. They diffuse scent through sticks (bamboo? some wood of sorts), and no need for burning. Supposedly they last for a few months so the cost (which is considerably higher than buying incense sticks) isn’t as bad as one thinks.
    I bought a large box of rose incense sticks from Japan, they have a very light aroma, and aren’t the easiest to use (they don’t have the wood bit at the end so they can be a bit crumbly). It’s lasted me for years, and every time I burn one, I feel a bit more meditative. I brew some black tea, listen to some music and imagine my woes away. :)

  9. May Uy says

    korek yun nga yun! :) gusto ko sna siyang idescribe na sa “baba ng escalator” galing mo :)

    where do you buy lamb? :)

  10. says

    My sister in dubai use incense to “combat” the smell of tuyo ;-P
    At home I use scented candles and aromatic oils. I had to convert hubby during my first year here coz he insisted on using those sprays (can & plug-ins). I told him it can trigger asthma.

    I tried incense kaya lang the stuff I bought were cheap so… blech! I have been wanting to buy a new stock kaya lang di ako nadadaan dun sa bilihan ko ng oils.

    Akala ko nung sinabi mong coil, parang mosquito coil. :-D