The Traditional, Herbal and Magickal Uses of Frankincense
Frankincense is the resin from the tree Boswellia Thurferia or Boswellia Carterii that grow on the Somali coast, straight out of the rock. The gum resin is collected from cuts made into the bark, and it is the resin that is known as Frankincense. Common or Folk names for Frankincense include; Incense, Olibans, Olibanum, Olibanus, Gum Thus and Luban.
Traditional Uses of Frankincense
Frankincense has a long history of being used for incense, incense is even one of the folk names for this resin. The Hebrew tradition uses Frankincense in its ceremonial incense, as it is one of the four “sweet scents.” Frankincense was also part of the meet offering and was presented with the shew-bread on the Sabbath. Frankincense was one of the gifts the three wise men presented to the baby Jesus. At the time, Frankincense was rare and extremely valuable, but also used in burnt offerings to the God of the Old Testament. Modern Catholic Churches still use Frankincense in their church incense blends.
Frankincense was used by the Babylonians in honour of the Sun God Bel. The Chaldean Priesthood used Frankincense often, and the Parsis of India still use Frankincense ritually. According to Pliny, Frankincense was one of the incenses offered to both the Greek and Roman Gods, although it was also used on state occasions and domestically by Romans.
Although Frankincense was burned to honour Demeter and some Moon Goddesses, it was mostly burned to honour and invoke the many different Sun Gods, including the Egyptians who burned it at sunrise to honour Ra.
Herbal Medicinal Uses of Frankincense
Medicinally, Frankincense is rarely used anymore, it was once used as a stimulant, and a steam inhalation using Frankincense is believed to alleviate bronchitis and laryngitis. It was mentioned by Pliny as an antidote to hemlock poisoning. Avicenna recommended it for various digestive uses as well as tumours and ulcers.
Before using any herb medicinally, be sure that it is correctly identified first and check with a qualified medical herbalist.
Magical Uses of Frankincense
Frankincense is a Masculine herb, under the element of Fire, and the planetary influence of the Sun. It is sacred to most Sun Gods and used to honour and invoke them. Because of the solar deity associations, it is appropriate to burn Frankincense during celebrations of the Beltaine, Lammas (Lughnassadh) and Yule (Winter Solstice) Sabbats.
When burned as incense, Frankincense is uplifting and cleansing, it is believed to drive out evil and negativity and to induce visions and aid in meditation. As such, it is commonly found in incenses for exorcism, protection, purification and consecration. Paul Beyerl in his Master Book of Herbalism recommends Frankincense for the consecration of wands specifically.
Frankincense can also be carried or added to sachets for the purposes of luck, protection and spiritual growth. It is especially good for those of the Leo sun sign. For students of spiritual paths, Frankincense allows them to see the value of discipline.