One often reads of "balsam" (or "balm") as an ingredient in
incense--such as in Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, where
he identifies "balsome" as an ingredient in Solar suffumigations and in
Liber Juratus, where it is an ingredient in the suffumigation used for Tuesday. Exactly which balsam is not specified.
This balsam was traditionally harvested by the Aztecs and Incas. When Spain invaded Mexico,
Spanish priests quickly recognized the usefulness of this balsam in
ritual situations and included it in their sacred aromatics. They
brought it back to Europe with them, and the Church adopted it and forbid the
destruction of the trees that produce it. The Bull of
Pope Pius V (1571) accepted this balsam as a substitution for
Balm or Balsam of Mecca, which was an ingredient in the Holy Chrism, a combination
of olive oil and balsam used
for anointing in baptism, confirmation, and ordination.
The Bull states that this balsam (called "of Peru" because it was
shipped to Spain from Peru, not harvested there) has all the effects of Balm of
Mecca/Balm of Gilead.* I began using this balsam in incense
because it produces a beautiful
white smoke and it is balsamic in the classic sense--it smells of vanilla
or almonds, having a smooth sweetness, not flowery, but quite rich. I find that
balsam of Peru is much nicer than tolu balsam. It is a very thick,
sticky liquid and comes in a jar. It is easier to work with if you
warm it slightly before using it, whereupon it will become runny.
*Hanbury, Daniel. Science Papers (London:
Macmillan, 1876), p. 293 et seq.
Uses in Witchcraft
Purification & Consecration
© 2008, 2013 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission