Religions, Incense and the Rise of Aromatherapy
Various world religions have been using incense as part of their religious ceremonies for centuries. In fact, religious use of incense goes back thousands of years. When people prayed or offered sacrifices to their gods, they would burn incense to make those prayers and offerings more effective or to invoke blessings.
It looks like the Egyptians were the first to use incense in a religious way. Record show that they were doing so over 4,000 years ago. But they weren’t the only culture in antiquity to use incense. In parts of Asia, including China and Japan, people used incense as a purification of their worship places.
The practice of burning incense was a major part of Judaism, and as a result, the practice spread to Christianity almost from the beginning. Catholics and other churches refer to the smoke from burning essence as a symbol. It represents the prayers of the faithful rising to God in heaven. There are even scriptures in the Bible that make mention of this idea.
As far as the types of incense used in religious ceremonies, they are as varied as the religions that use incense. Popular types include myrrh, frankincense, and sandalwood. It’s interesting to note that the natural substances used in incense were very fragrant. The smoke wasn’t intended just to be seen, but to be breathed in as well. That made a pleasant aroma vital to the practice.
Over the years, the practice of burning incense has spread outside the religious world to the secular world. The peaceful feeling and pleasant aroma of burning incense has made the practice very popular, and many cultures burn incense with no religious reasons whatsoever. It is used for aromatherapy and relaxation in homes, health spas, and more.
With the advent of diffusing machines, some people have turned away from burning incense sticks. Instead, they use essential oils to get the same aromatherapy effects. For example, Melaleuca essential oils come in a variety of fragrances from cedarwood to lavender. While religions may get the credit for inventing aromatherapy, manufacturers of incense and essential oil have taken the practice to a whole new level.