At ten to nine on a Saturday morning, the works phone goes. By the time we have clattered downstairs to catch it, whoever it was has rung off.
Interested to see who had rung us at that time on a Saturday, I did dial back - the thing where you type in 1471 and it tells you the number of whoever rang you last - and rang the number given.
'Hello, I'm Chris from Raven, did you want me?' I ask
'No-one has rung you from here,' says the man on the other end.
'Erm, yes they have,' I say, 'Because I've just done dial back.'
A lady obviously takes the phone off him and says, 'Do you do smokeless incense sticks?'
'No sorry,' I say, 'The whole point of incense sticks is that they give off smoke.'
There are some times when you know that it is a waste of time detailing the alternate options available, and this was one of those. So we ended the conversation pleasantly, and I went back to checking out a catalogue from one of our suppliers.
Incense and perfume both come from words which mean 'fragranced smoke', so by their very nature, they are smoke. But smoke which is used for its aroma.
However these days there are alternatives, and one of the best is to use a perfume burner. These do not (or should not) actually burn the perfume, they create a fragrant steam which carries the perfume molecules into the air. You put water into the top recess of the burner, add a few drops of perfumed oil and light the candle beneath it. The candle flame warms the water which evaporates and carries the perfume into the air.
I make a lot of magical oils, which can be used for personal perfume, to anoint candles for spell work, used in your bath (only a few drops at a time) or used in oil burners too. This is a very pure way of experiencing the perfume, and is a lovely way of filling your ritual area with an aroma which can enhance your ritual or spell work.
Also the incense and particularly incense sticks, can often smell very different when burnt, to how it smells in the packet. Perfumed oils smell the same, but the warmth enhances their fragrance.
This is my favourite oil burner, which we bought from our friends at Zoo Ceramics at Waddington in Lincolnshire.
There is also a huge variety of perfumed oils, from single fragrances, to the magical blends I make. Our most popular are Kyphi, based on recipes found carved into the walls of temples in ancient Egypt, Ruthvah which was created by Aleister Crowley, and blends such as Lucky Master, Come To Me, Aphrodite and Van Van.
And there are literally thousands of others!