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Neriko Collection

Hanami Nerikoh
Nerikoh is a traditional Japanese kneaded incense that is hardly known in the West. Neriko is unique in its aroma and method of burning. The aroma develops because of its intensive and laborious process that is required for its creation: Precious woods, herbs and spices are finely ground and bound together with honey and dried fruit, then rolled into tiny balls. Probably this method was first used to compound edible and less foul-tasting medicines, before capsules were invented. But the most lengthy part of the process is the aging of nerikoh: they are left to ferment underground in a clay vessel for several months or even years.

Nerikoh incense is not meant to be burnt, but rather warmed in traditional Koh-Doh cup, or for more convieneinct and accessible technique - place on top of an electric incense heater or aromatherapy lamp/diffuser. You'll only need a tiny pinch of each ball to scent a room for hours on end, releasing  gentle yet enveloping and exotic aroma.

In Japan, Nerikoh is most typically burnt during the tea ceremony because they are a refined and smoke-free form of incense and beautifully complement this occasion. The scents are generally most suitable for fall, when their warm, spicy and honeyed aroma.

I am thrilled to share with you the following kneaded incense creations. I've been playing with shaping my nerikoh into seasonally-appropriate shapes such as leaves, sakura and seashells, but this process takes f o r e v e r -  so keep in mind most of them are rolled into balls the traditional way.
Autumn Leaves Nerikoh
Autumn Leaves Nerikoh
Precious woods, spices and moss in a base of organic, uncultured apricots and wild honey.
Hanami Nerikoh
Hanami Nerikoh
Delicate woods, iris, botanical musks and precious woods kneaded together with honey and apricots produce a unique floral-almond aroma that evoke the season of sakura and ume (Japanese plum) blossoms.
Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways
Oasis Nerikoh
Exotic Ras El Hanout spices and precious resins blneded with dates and wild summer honey to evoke the era of the spice caravans camping in a desert oasis.
Fireflies (Summer Neriko)
Dragonfly (Summer) Nerikoh
Classical Japanese scent evoking the ephemeral moment of a blue dragonfly touching the water in a temple's garden pond on a hot summer day. Borneol camphor creates the feel of shimmering light on the dragonfly's wings and the calm water.

Handful of Nerikoh
Saturn Nerikoh
Sophisticated planetary incense that is deep with dark myrrh resin, cedar, cypress, patchouli, cassia, vetiver, agarwood and a touch of honey to balance its heaviness.
Burn on Saturdays, or when you require grounding, material wealth, support as well as discipline to achieve your goals.

New Incense

Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways
After close to twenty years in development and perfection, I'm excited to announce that my alchemical incense blends are finally available for sale! Check out the new section in my shop for Original Kyphi and Kyphi Galilee; Planetary incense pastilles, herbal incense cones and seasonal Nerikoh (traditional Japanese kneaded incense that is meant for warming on a mica plate Koh-Doh style; or more conveniently - on an aromatherapy lamp or incense electric heater).

More details about each incense type in the upcoming posts!

Planetary Prescription Incense

Incense As Medicine
Today is an especially magical day, being the midway point between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice. So that's a great timing to work on new incense and share with you what I've been brewing these past nine months (there has been plenty of incensing happening lately!).

It's been my life-long mission to create incense for the seven ancient planets. I am finally coming close to completing this series to my satisfaction. So far, I only liked the Jupiter incense I've created many years ago, in the very beginning of my incense path. I made a few other incense pastilles but I have taken a break from this technique for many years.

This year I've been catching up and refining my incense-making skills big time. Partly because the space allows it, and partly because I find the actual making of incense very calming, centring, sensual and magical all around. Incense to me is the purest form of perfume. Its most natural state. The manipulation of the raw materials is minimal. The ingredients may be exotic or simple. Lastly there is the actual use of incense, which is healing and transformative on so many planes - physical, psychological and spiritual.

The planetary incense is mostly botanical (except the lunar one, which has a tiny bit of ambergris in it). They are resin-based incense with added herbs, spices and essential oils, and are formed into small candy-like resin crystals. The Saturn ones are Nerikoh - a Japanese style soft-candy incense that is mostly wood and spice based, and glued together with honey or dried plums. Nerikoh were originally compounded as edible medicine - the honey there to preserve as well as ease the consumption of these remedies' rather bitter, acrid and hot flavours.

Solar Incense Pastilles:
Heart opening, sweet, warm and healing.
Includes: Frankincense, Gold Copal, Chamomile, Saffron

Moon Drops Incense Pastilles:
Mysterious, watery, dark womb, new beginnings.
Black copal, Sandalwood, Ambergris, Jasmine, Artemisia

Mercury Incense Pastilles:
Swift, uplifting, communication, ideas, mental clarity, intellectual connection. 
Mastic, Elemi, Mimosa, Yuzu, Sandarac, Sandalwood

Noga (Venus) Incense Pastilles:
Inspires love, beauty and harmony. 
Includes: Galbanum, Benzoin, Roses, Labdanum, Myrtle, Tonka Bean

Mars Incense Pastilles:
Protective, powerful, transformative, healing that comes from destruction and breaking down of old and unnecessary things/thoughts/desires. 
Dragon's Blood, Ponderosa Pine, Tobacco, Palo Santo 

Jupiter Incense Pastilles:  
The teacher, especially plant teachings, healing, cleansing, brings luck and abundance. 
Pinon Pine, Star Anise, Juniper, Sage 

Saturn Nerikoh (Soft Incense Pastilles):
Discipline, analogue to the world and the physical world's lessons, Gives form and manifestation to ideas, Wisdom. 
Myrrh, Patchouli, Cypress, Spices, Vetiver, Agarwood

As if closing a circle, I'm now running very low on the Jupiter incense, so will have to make some more (it's been in the planning for about a month, with all the ingredients measured and set up, just waiting to be pounded, compounded and formed into a very special kind of incense candy!). More on that in the next post! 

Autumn Leaves Nerikoh

Autumn Leaves Nerikoh
Incense is occupying my mind a lot these days, as well as most of my creative endeavours. I'm working on different techniques, and also adaptations of some of my perfumes into incense form. The Japanese art of incense is poetic and technically versatile in a way that sparks my imagination.

Today I've tried my hand at crafting Nerikoh (kneaded incense) using dried fruit instead of honey. I notice apricot used in several of the Nerikoh offerings from Shoyeido, so I decided to give it a try. It seemed especially befitting for an adaptation of Autumn perfume that I wanted to make. It's akin to translating an idea from perfume into incense format.
Autumn Leaves Nerikoh
Autumn was a perfect candidate, as Nerikoh is traditionally used in tea ceremonies in the fall season.  Additionally, it being a Chypre Fruity with spicy notes and labdanum gave it an extra advantage over most of my other perfumes. Labdanum is one of the classic notes in Japanese Neirkoh, and along with the sticky dried apricot fruit, that would have been a great way to bring both worlds together. Other traditional incense materials are sandalwood, cinnamon and cloves, which are also in the perfume. Of course it has some oakmoss too! An early burn over a tea light smells promising already. Sweet yet earthy, complex yet brings on a feeling of serenity of fallen leaves. I even went as far as molding some into maple leaf shapes. And now I regret not doing it with the rest. The experiment seems to have gone well, so there will be more shaped incense pellets to come.  I just have to be sure they don't get suck inside the mold or break once they dried, before meticulously shaping an entire batch. And then there is also the question of packaging...

The Autumn Leaves Nerikoh won't be ready till fall, as they need at least six months to cure or age - and this is a shortcut: traditionally they will be buried in the ground in a clay vessel for 3-4 years! That means they will be ready around Halloween. I can't wait to smell them then, when the temperatures here will finally become cooler again after a long summer.

Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways

Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways
I ran out of my Ras El Hanout mixture (which I always make myself, using very peculiar spices from my overflowing spice rack). You can see some of them in the images below (how many of them can you guess?).
Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout

Ras El Hanout
Most of the grinding is done the old fashioned way using mortar and pestle, as it should be. I believe it is a more direct connection to the material because this way I can smell them as I crrrrrrrush them! Whatever I'm unable to grind fine enough, I will pass on to the electric grinder. I kept most of it for my cooking (nothing beats a homemade couscous topped with a homemade couscous stew spiced with my very own Ras El Hanout!). But some I just felt compelled to burn as incense.
Ras El Hanout Nerikoh Snake
My first idea was making it into nerikoh (kneaded incense, which is not actually burnt but placed on a hot micah plate). Nerikoh traditionally uses honey or plum paste. For this experiment I used a combination of dates and honey. I named these Oasis Nerikoh.
In the picture you are seeing the incense dough shaped as a spiral, and waiting to be hand-rolled into tiny balls.
Ras El Hanout Nerikoh
Ras El Hanout Nerikoh (kneaded incense balls), rolled into a mixture of ras el hanout and sandalwood powder.
Ras El Hanout Incense Sticks
My second attempt at making incense sticks! Practice will eventually make perfect I hope.
 Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways
The whole line up, from top to bottom: Ras El Hanout Incense cones, norikoh, incense sticks.
Ras El Hanout Incense, Three Ways
Here they are, all dried up and ready to use! The ornamental brown ceramic dish in the background is my aromatherapy diffuser, which I use to heat up nerikoh.
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