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GalenGalen's Kyphi
This recipe is from Galen (129-210 CE), Greek physician and philosopher who studied in Egypt but lived most of his life in Rome. Galen was the primary means through which West Europeans learned about the medicine of Hippocrates. In those days, the incense used in ancient Egyptian temples to usher in the night had come into medicinal use for the treatment of lung ailments and snake bites, so physicians were important in helping to preserve the knowledge of it. In "On Antidotes," Galen cited a recipe for kyphi that he said was recorded by Rufus of Ephesus (110-180 CE), the physician of the Emperor Trajan. This ancient recipe outlines the proportions for raisins, wine, honey, asphaltum, bdellium, camel grass, sweet flag, cyperus tuber, saffron, spikenard, aspalathos, cardamom, and cassia.

I use all natural ingredients for this kyphi; no fragrance oils or synthetics even come near it. Some ingredients, like the saffron, are extremely expensive, which accounts for the high price of this incense. They are mixed together in a high-fired ceramic bowl with a wooden spatula to preserve their potency. Following the ancient Egyptian custom, I add the wine-dampened, ground ingredients one at a time in a specific order to the base of chopped raisins and honey.

Temple at EdfuThe result is a very complex combination of light sweetness, spice, and resin with dark undertones.  This is a subtle incense that is not as smokey as one would think, considering the honey and the dried fruit, which are usually added to give smokiness to incense and to create a way for the scents to hang in the air. The scent is *extremely* relaxing and great for astral work; it is also recommended for rituals conducted at night. It makes a wonderful contrast to Dioscorides' kyphi. To my mind, this is the more Moon of the two.

Traditionally kyphi was rolled into pills, but I have left it in a loose crumble so that you can make whatever size pellets you want (I suggest smallish ones, no larger than a blueberry, as this incense is volatilized slowly on account of the asphaltum). If the material is not moist enough to stick together, add a few drops of honey and mix with a silver or wooden spoon. Proportions will not be put out of joint by doing this, since the recipe calls simply for "sufficient" honey. Please note that it requires charcoal to burn, as it is composed of pure ingredients and contains no charcoal filler. I also have Dioscorides' kyphi and Edfu kyphi.

Galen's kyphi
1 oz. in tin $20.00

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Other hand-compounded incense: Edfu Kyphi, Dioscorides' Kyphi, Abramelin, Festival, Planetary.

Get some chemical-free charcoal

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Honoring Horus

2004, 2018 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission