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Shadbhuja Mahakala, 19th century thangka from Mongolia

Incence for Mahakala

This incense honors Mahakala. There are many energies/deities called Mahakala, but Aleia designed this incense specifically for Mahakala, the Great Black One, a wrathful manifestation of Avalokiteshvara* (Chenrezig), the bodhisattva of compassion, and protector of Tibetan Buddhism. In this context, wrathful means a form more powerful than the adversary, and this fierce and fearsome protector destroys all obstacles on the path to liberation. (It should be noted that compassion is not the equivalent of gentleness or being nice. To engage with Mahakala's wrathful compassion is to channel our anger, frustration, and even depression into fierce, wise, and empowered action.)

Like all Buddhist deities, Mahakala is both-and. He is the energy of one's own fierce compassion externalized into a particular symbolic form (philosophical deity)**, and he is also the all-powerful stream of this energy that always-already exists in the world and appears to individuals when they need him (e.g., in dreams, visions, signs, as an animal). Mahakala often emanates in the form of ravens or crows. It is said that he appeared to the first King of Bhutan as a raven in a dream.*** In this vision, Mahakala offered Bhutan as a sacred Buddha realm—a place where the Dharma would be safe and would flourish.

Traditionally, Mahakala's actions pacify, enrich, magnetize, and destroy. He pacifies fear, negativity, illness, malevolent forces, etc. Working with his energy enriches our experience and brings us wisdom, merit, and strength. Mahakala draws in resources and magnetizes energies, transforming that which would otherwise be harmful into tools of awakening. But he is not gentle. His wrathful energy burns through the fog of confusion and destroys the self-centered clinging that binds us to suffering. (Note the crown of skulls, garland of fresh heads, trident and skull cup, and the being trampled under his dancing feet.)

Whether or not you have a relationship with Mahakala, this incense can be used to cultivate fierce compassion in oneself and as an offering to the energies, forces, and beings that never give up the fight to transform suffering into freedom. It is hand-compounded from guggul gum (bdellium), olibanum, red sage root, juniper leaf, black cardamom, mugwort, Indian gooseberry, rhododendron, precious agarwood, and more.

Although Mahakala incense in bowlthere are many excellent incense blends for Mahakala available (often made by Buddhist monks or nuns using traditional methods), Aleia felt drawn to make her own version as part of her personal practice. Since early in the pandemic, Mahakala has been a crucial protector and ally, particularly when feelings of helplessness or depression arise. Since many of Alchemy Works' incense and oil blends began as customer requests, it seemed right to share this blend, too.

* Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit) or Chenrezig (Tibetan) is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Sometimes referred to as the trans Buddha—since their energy of compassion manifests as many different bodies—they have taken a vow to postpone their own enlightenment until all beings are liberated. Listening to their suffering cries and gazing upon all sentient beings with the eye of compassion, Chenrezig manifests in various ways to suit the needs and minds of various beings. These emanations vary in gender and form, ranging from peaceful to wrathful, animal, human, all-powerful multi-limbed deities, etc. The Dalai Lama is said to be a manifestation of Chenrezig, as are Guanyin, Amoghapasa, Lokanat, Cundi, Shadbhuja Mahakala, etc.

** A philosophical deity, which is understood as a visualization of one's own energetic qualities and not as a self-existing external entity, helps the practitioner work with their own energy, wisdom and abilities by expressing them symbolically, then relating to the symbolic form. We are relational creatures, so it is often easier to work with our energies as if they were external beings rather than internal qualities. By crafting a relationship with Mahakala, who represents wrathful/fierce compassion, we cultivate our own fierceness, cut through obstacles along our path, and develop the courage to fight for justice (for ourselves and others) even amidst the forces of doubt, fear, shame, helplessness, or whatever stands in our way.

*** To this day, the King of Bhutan's crown is adorned with a raven, symbolizing the lineage of kings protected by Mahakala. Unlike Tibet, where Buddhist temples were destroyed and practitioners fled or were tortured (or killed) during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Buddhism continues to thrive in Bhutan today. Also known in Tibetan Buddhism as Shadbhuja Mahakala, Swift Acting Lord of Pristine Awareness, Lord of the Tent/Pavillion (Gunpo), and other names, Mahakala is the patron guardian of Bhutan and the Dharma Protector (Dharmapala) of all Buddhafields.

Incense for Mahakala
1 oz in tin $17.50


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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Honoring Mahakala
Cultivating Fierce Compassion
Cutting Through Confusion
Courage/Bravery/Inner Protection
Destroying Self-Centeredness

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