Frankincense — Or How You Can Make Your House Smell Like Holy Week

Thought I’d digress a little from this recent spate of posts on natural hair care and going no ‘poo that I’ve been on lately, and chit-chat about something else for a minute.

Here downtown there are people on the street selling huge vats of frankincense at little stands. It’s quite cheap. I bought a packet, and this is the amount it came out to:

Frankincense Natural Incense

No, it didn’t come in this plastic tub. The tub is from an ice-cream shop. It just happened to be the right size to hold our frankincense in.

Holy Week with all its processions is a major event here in southern Spain. I’ve written a few posts on that subject, and you can see them here: Holy Week in Malaga.

If you’ve ever been on a Holy Week procession, you might have noticed that they carry silver incense burners that smell—absolutely divine!

In addition, incense has the property of being able to clear negative energy from the space around it. One of the reasons why churches and other holy places have always used it to purify the temples.

Now, you can enjoy that sacred fragrance every day of the year in your own home by burning your own frankincense. This is how we do it. (But of course, this method will work for any natural incense stones or powder that you might have.)

The ideal way is to possess your very own decorative incense burner, preferably with lots of artwork engraved all around. I was too impatient to try this out to run out and stalk souvenir shops, so I just grabbed an old heat-resistant glass candle holder.

I filled the candle holder with sand. Now, living right next to the sea, you would think I would have a ready-made source of sand whenever I want—and I do. But I was too impatient to go down to the beach to get some. So I just used the kitty litter.

No, not the sand from inside his litter, of course. Phew! Nope, I grabbed some clean, unused sand from the bag.

(In case you are wondering what the owner of our kitty litter looks like, here’s a mug of him.)

Black Kitty Cat

I’d previously bought incense charcoal from a health food store, so I took one chunk and held it with a pair of metal tweezers, of the sort you’d use for barbecues.

If you don’t have one, I imagine you could use any metal cooking utensil. But we happened to be lucky enough to possess a pair of tweezers.

I held the chunk of charcoal with the tweezers and lit a match (ie. my son lit a match) and held the match underneath the charcoal. It’s best to use natural charcoal, and not the ones with toxic chemical additives to help it ignite faster. But I couldn’t find any natural ones and I used what I was able to get.

You can tell if your charcoal has chemicals if it sizzles and crackles. Lately, I have been on a mission to reduce the chemicals we use in our natural skin and hair care routine to a minimum. But using all natural charcoal hasn’t quite made it into our litany yet.

It only took a few seconds for the charcoal to ignite. Then I took the match away (put it out, of course, so you won’t burn anything!) and just held onto the charcoal with the tweezers for a while.

The first time I tried it, I don’t know why, the charcoal smoked a lot. The next time, I laid it gently down on the sand and it didn’t smoke.

I blew on it to make it burn faster. You have to wait until the entire thing is red hot. It will be an ashy grey all around. That’s when you know it is ready.

With a small teaspoon I pushed it around in the sand a bit so it was half buried (don’t bury it completely or it will go out). Then I sprinkled the frankincense on the sand all around it. It will be hot, so use the spoon.

If you sprinkle the frankincense directly on it, it will burn too quickly and smoke a lot. Sprinkling the incense close to, but not touching, the coal makes it last longer.

And that’s it.

Frankincense Natural Incense

And of course, although it should be obvious but I ought to say it anyway, do take the utmost care to make sure the whole incense contraption (burner, spoon, tweezers, matches etc.) is out of the reach of babies, small children, pets, violent people and anyone else who shouldn’t touch it. It’s hot, after all!

And after you’ve put it out, or it’s all burnt up, do wait a long time for it to cool down before touching it and putting it away, or it can and will burn you!

Waiting till the next day, for example, is good.

And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you ever tried natural incense? Or wondered how they used frankincense during the Holy Week processions? Don’t hesitate to share. As you know, I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Going No ‘Poo

The Sounds of Holy Week

Preparing for Holy Week

Thrillers by Moi

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The Sounds of Holy Week

I’m sure that by now, especially if you are a “Spain-o-phile” lol, you must have seen dozens of photos of the Holy Week processions (and much better than the ones I’m going to post here!). But have you HEARD what Holy Week sounds like here in Spain?

So here I am posting a couple of recordings that I made of the music that they play. Just stare at the photos, imagine a cool night breeze brushing gently against your face (it was a warm night though, 22 degrees), listen to the sounds of Holy Week and pretend that you are surrounded by crowds of devotees and you can even transport yourself there and experience a Holy Week procession for yourself!

Well I couldn’t upload any music so I made a video instead! I invite you to check it out here (I put it in my son’s channel cuz I haven’t got one, in case you’re wondering about the name, oooh I’m so behind the times……):

or here, if the above link doesn’t work:

http://youtu.be/UZrqljbkEos

And while we’re at it, I put up a new demo too on MySpace, I invite you to check it out here:

Medley from Serena Amadis on Myspace.

or here, if the above link doesn’t work:

https://myspace.com/120763532/music/songs

Well that is pretty much all we have been up to these days!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Preparing for Holy Week

Pa Amb Tomàquet

Poetry by Hermenegildo: Bienvenida Sea La Primavera

Bye Bye Birds!

Holy Week in Malaga

I wasn’t going to put up a post on Holy Week, but we went to see processions and they were so beautiful, I just had to take some photos even though I hadn’t brought the camera along. But I’ve got a mobile phone, even though it doesn’t take such nice photos as the camera.

Cross

On Holy Thursday, the city is filled with processions running up and down all over the place. You can do like what we started to do, which was “procession hopping”, jumping about from one procession to another to see all the different religious statues, or tronos.

However we soon got tired of that activity, and just decided to situate ourselves next to the Alameda, the main thoroughfare in Malaga, because all the processions pass down that way at some point.

Penitents

These people carrying a glittering cross and wearing “cone hats” are penitents.

Trono de virgen

There’s a lot of religious fervour and excitement during Holy Week processions. Even people who haven’t entered into a church for the past fifty years feel awe-struck.

Spectators also applaud the brave and strong men who bear the tronos as they pass by. Each trono-bearer is carrying about 20 kg. on his shoulder. This is very exhausting work and they deserve all that applause, encouragement and confetti!

Niños aburridosHowever, the ones who would probably rather be sitting at home playing with their Nintendo or Gamebox are…… the kiddies. Here are some who are clearly bored out of their minds. But fortunately, today we have portable electronic apparatuses to play with.

Rows of Penitents

My son was quite fascinated by the penitents. He told me that he wanted me to fashion him a cone-shaped hat covered with velvet to wear around the house, and a huge gilded staff like the ones that the penitents carry.

My son’s cousin, a hale and hearty teenager, decided to participate in a procession this year bearing a trono. This wasn’t due to any religious zeal. He just wanted to know what it felt like. He ended up all ground up and declared that he was never going to do this again.

A little boy by our side apparently also had his father carrying a trono. As the statue paraded past us, the little kid just wouldn’t stop screaming at his dad to look at him.

Given the number of processions taking place each year, and the number of men required to make them happen, most of the inhabitants of Malaga probably know someone personally who is bearing a trono.

Another cross

Religion is a pretty important theme during Holy Week, of course – but so is partying! Everywhere we went, it seemed more like a carnival or a fair rather than a supposedly sombre religious event commemorating a rather tragic occurrence. There were people at stands selling everything from hot dogs and hamburgers to donuts and home-grown lemons.

Papas asadas

I think the line-ups to get baked potatoes stuffed with delicious hot filling were just as long as the ones to see a trono pass by.

Apparently, on Holy Thursday all of the processions consist of two tronos coming out of every church that participates. The first trono is always a statue of a cross, Jesus Christ or Jesus Christ on a cross. He is always followed by a statue of his mother, the Virgin Mary. Because if they were carting your son off to hang him, wouldn’t you go running after him too?

Cristo en la cruz

Well, I took a few more photos but I got so tired editing them, and besides which, they were all pretty much more of the same, and not such good quality anyways (after all, I do not have an iPhone!). In the end, what caught my fancy was this large tree with its roots hanging off of the high branches.

Tree Roots Hanging From Tree

I have no idea what this tree is called though. You can see the full moon shining beside it.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Preparing For Holy Week

On Christmas Day in the Morning

Flowers for the Dead on the Day of the Dead

Our Visit to Hare Krishna

Preparing for Holy Week

I’d been getting this post ready for the past week or so, and then I realized that I’d better get it up soon or as they say in Spanish, “se me iba a pasar el arroz”. Which just simply means something like, the right time is about to pass you by.

Sentencia

Sorry for the rather iffy quality of the photos, I took them all with the mobile phone, just little reminders posted everywhere as I walked about town, about the imminence of Holy Week and its numerous processions (procesiones de Semana Santa).

Semana Santa Malaga

People get really excited about Holy Week processions around here. Even very young people (like teenagers), whom you would expect would be more into fashion or clubbing than religion, show tremendous zeal and anticipation. And several young men that I know with big, strong shoulders can talk about nothing else for weeks except the “trono” that they are planning to bear around the city.

Cristo Triston

As you can see, everyone gets in on the act, and even the owners of convenience stores have Holy Week posters up.

Because, of course, all of those heavy “tronos”, or religious statues, that you will see marching around during Holy Week, are borne solely by the shoulders and feet of the “trono-bearers”. Each procession lasts for several kilometres, so you can imagine the exhaustion that these people face. But they are very proud of what they do and even compete with each other for the privilege of bearing a trono around town.

Encierralo

This is a poster with a play on words. It’s urging people to shut their cars up at home during Holy Week and come to see the processions by bus, in order not to clog up the frenetic traffic downtown. However, it’s also playing on the term “encierro”. Encierro means to shut something up, like your car in the garage, but an encierro is also when the procession is finished and the trono is brought to rest in its “home” in the church that it belongs to.

There was one other scene that I wanted to capture on film (well, digital film, nowadays), a religious scene that was set up in a shop window, but whenever I passed by the lighting was never right. Either it was too bright and everything was reflecting in the window, covering up the scene underneath the pane, or it was night-time and too dark. If I ever manage to pass by at just the right moment, I’ll flash a pic of it and post it up here too.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

29M: A General Strike or a Religious Procession?

Kings’ Day Parades

Midnight and All Is Well

Happy Giant Cockroach Hunting!

29M: A General Strike Or…… A Religious Procession?

Hello to all you lovely angelic beings who read this blog! Although you might have noticed I’m not much of a blogger. (The fact that I’ve got a job that gets me out around midnight most days probably doesn’t contribute very much to my “blogability”, I guess……)

But today I really felt like commenting on something curious I noticed yesterday.

Women's Trono Holy Week

Yesterday was “strike day” here in Spain, where they carried out a general day-long strike all around the country. Of course I went to work, because if they kicked me out at work for going on strike one day, do you think the strikers, the protesters and the union leaders were going to lift a finger to help me get my job back? Noooooooooooo……

Strike 29M

No, truth is, the only thing the strike did for me was make me wait three hours instead of one for a bus, because most of the drivers were on strike (all right I exaggerate, I don’t normally wait one hour for a bus either, but I did have to wait about three times longer than usual for one of those marvellous vehicles that serve for collective transportation).

In my personal and most humble opinion, I think that strikes only serve the interests of people who have the most to lose, because they already have a lot anyways, such as the wealthy, public servants, etc. At any rate, all people who can afford to buy a car.

However, I do have to note that I was pleasantly surprised to observe that, at least here in Malaga, there was a lot more religious zeal than political zest. Because around here, instead of going off to protest marches, most people went to…… religious processions!

Women Bearing Trono Holy Week

As you can see, it was a “women’s procession”, where the women were the protagonists and they carried the trono, thus demonstrating to the world that women are every bit as strong and capable as men, and can do what men do.

Float at Night Holy Week Procession

In truth, I would bet that here in deep south Malaga religion and Catholic fervour have done more for women and equal rights than any political act or protest march.

Women's Trono Holy Week

It was a really lovely ending to a tiring day of answering telephones at work while the rest of the city (mostly public servants, probably) protested in the streets.

Light Bearers Holy Week Processions

Although I doubt that there was a great deal of protesting going on here in the languid south, where most people were too busy attending the religious processions anyways. And if anyone did protest, it was probably because their mug of beer with tapas in the local tapas bar was taking too long to arrive at the table……

And now on to another subject, if you’ve got your own blog would you like to do a blog exchange? A blog exchange is when I publish the avatar of your blog with a link to your blog here on my blog, and you do the same for me.

It’s a great way of getting more people to get to know and read your blog, and move out of your habitual circles. Apparently it’s something that Google bloggers do all the time, at least here in Spain (but I haven’t seen it in WordPress…… yet.) If you’re interested, click here on Blog Exchange to read more and find out how we can exchange blogs.

Sweet dreams everyone!

Holy Week Processions