Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Goloka Reiki Sei Hei Ki / Purification



When I first lit this, it transported me back to wandering into a head shop in Ladbroke Grove in the early Seventies with a Spiritual Sky incense wafting on the breeze, probably Strawberry Fields.  The playful, sweet, fruity tones gradually develop deeper notes until it becomes more serious and woody, and finishes with a fairly sombre cedar wood feel, and a little bit of heat. I like the start and am not dismayed by the finish. It's a proper job masala and does deliver on the quality I have come to expect from Goloka, though it's not quite on the same level with their main output. I note that the Reiki series is on sale all over the world (I got this packet from The Scenter, who has all five in the series), though it is not listed on Goloka's own website.  I wonder if, when stocks run out, we'll see the end of this series - perhaps it was something they tried, and now they are exploring something else.

Those in the Reiki series that I have tried: this, and Healing, and Timelessness, have been decent quality and very pleasant to burn, but didn't quite lift into the heavenly that Goloka can do. Nothing that Goloka do is below decent quality, and everything they do is worth buying, though - to be fair - their main lines are the ones to concentrate on first before exploring side lines such as this Reiki series. However, if you do see any for sale, best grab them now, just in case Goloka have discontinued the series. 

Date: July 2018    Score:  33
***

Goloka


Goloka Reiki Cho Ku Rei / Healing



The second in the Goloka Reiki series (there are four in the series altogether). It starts off with a pleasant soft sweet vanilla note then darker tones come in of musk and sandalwood. A prickling suggestion of halmaddi hangs in the air, but mostly this is a gentle and subtle fragrance. Halmaddi is a binding agent derived from the resin of a tree, other tree resin binding agents may be used, the most common being  joss or jiggit powder, though gum arabic may also be used. Halmaddi is a little different from those resins in that it has a fragrance of its own, and can assert itself into an incense aroma a little crudely if too much is used. Some people are particularly attracted to halmaddi, and so enjoy heavy use of the resin. I'm not one of those, so prefer producers to use other binding agents or, as here, to use it in moderation.

The Cho Ku Rei scent is pleasant without quite reaching up to heavenly. It's a proper job masala with the warm evocative scents that come with that traditional manner of making Indian incense. Masala incense is created by using dried fragrant ingredients rolled into the binding paste while it's still moist, and then allowed to dry.  It is similar to the dhoop or extruded method of incense making, which is the most common method outside India, in that the fragrance is composed exclusively or mainly of dried ingredients, though essential oils and perfumes may be added. This traditional method of incense making has largely been replaced with the quicker and more efficient perfume-dipped method. Perfume-dipped incense in itself is not a bad thing, though as it is a quicker method, it does allow for (indeed, encourage) cheap production using poor quality ingredients. Without knowing what you are buying, a quick and crude guide to quality can be applied by checking if the incense is a perfume-dipped or masala/dhoop incense. While not all masala/dhoop incense is great, and not all perfume-dipped is bad, the odds are far greatly in favour of the masala being the better quality, more interesting incense.

Reiki power symbol:
Cho Ku Rei

Cho Ku Rei is the power symbol of reiki, and is normally used at the start of a healing process - though the symbol can be drawn to evoke power in a variety of situations - such as drawing the symbol in the air as a way of clearing negative energy in a room.

Date: July 2018    Score:  35
***

Goloka


Goloka Reiki Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen / Timelessness



This Reiki series is based on the Japanese reiki healing system, which is a form of faith healing or alternative therapy. There are five fragrances in the series - I got this one in a clearance sale for 20p from the UK site Ian Snow,  but they are now all sold out. The Scenter (UK) still has some in stock for 99p each, or a random any two Goloka for £1.59, or £3.48 for three of your choice with free postage. A Google search for "Goloka Reiki" will show sites all over the world selling the series.

This Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen, which is translated as "Timelessness", is what is called distance healing in reiki. As there is no barrier in reiki - there is no past, present, or future (hence "timelessness"), then healing can be sent across time and space.

The scent is gentle and quite delightful. Hints of dark fruits - plum, fig and blackcurrant, with top notes of green tea, supported by a a clean and refreshing base of sandalwood. This is top quality incense by what I feel is the one of the best incense producers in India, and possibly the world. Goloka's incense is always beautiful, and always gentle, and always unique. And they are a non-profit organisation helping women and children in India. What's not to like?

Date: July 2018   Score: 39
***

Goloka


Zodiac Scents (cones)




Bought from the friendly but inept Ian Snow website for £1 a box. Ian Snow had a sale on various Goloka and Parimal incense, so I ordered a variety of items, including three of the unbranded Zodiac Scents. The zodiac signs chosen matched our family - I'm Scorpio, my wife is Gemini, and our daughter is Pisces. A bit of fun, and a chance to check them out. The order takes absolutely ages to arrive, and I chase them up. Apparently it was sent out but got lost. The order will be sent again. Still nothing. I chase them up. No response. I chase them again, and get a breathless apology about being away on holiday, and the stuff will be sent immediately, but some items may be missing as they were on clearance sale, but they'll include a few free items as compensation. Fine. Order arrives, with around half the order replaced with items I don't want, and the free items are six Hem samples which are in doubles, so there's only three different scents. I email that if there were to be replacements I would have preferred to have been involved in the selection, to be told that I can send back anything I dislike for a replacement. Fair enough - but that involves a trip to the Post Office. It would have been quicker and easier just to let me know in advance. The service was friendly and well meaning, and the sale prices were very good, but I'm wary of using that site again in future.

As regards the cones? Well, you get a neat little cardboard box which contains a clay incense burner and eight small generic cones - the sort of thing you can get on eBay for around £3 a 100.  At £1 for eight cones, this is not good value. The bulk of the cost is in the gimmick of the zodiac themed box. It's the sort of thing you give as a little gift to someone who isn't into incense. A thank you gift for looking after the cat.

The Pisces sign is represented by cedar - and there is a woody cedar scent on the cone which does come through briefly when burned - though mostly it's the sawdust core that can be smelled - a little bit hot and smoky.  Scorpio is represented by patchouli. There's a hint of musk and gardenia on the cone. When burned it is mostly the core rather than the scent that can be smelled - so is a bit like burning cowshed straw. Gemini is represented by sandalwood which has a hint of sandalwood, but also table polish and pine cleaner. It is, though, the least offensive of the three when burned, containing some warm cereal notes.

In conclusion these Zodiac Scents are bargain basement stuff but sold at a premium because of the gimmick of the zodiac sign. If you think of it as buying a cardboard zodiac box which can be used for keeping small trinkets like ear-rings, and it contains some free incense cones that can be thrown away or used in the toilet, then you are unlikely to be disappointed.

Score: 19


Thursday, 12 July 2018

Hari Om Panchamukhi



This is a proper job masala incense made for the domestic Indian market, not for export to the West. It is a packet of eight sticks which retail for 12 rupee - which is around 12 pence or 18 cents. The name Panchamukhi means five-sided, and there is a Hindu poem, the Ramayana,  in which the hero, Rama, is rescued by Hanuman who adopts his five-headed form (Panchmukhi Hanuman) in order to blow out the five candles that hold the life-force of the enemy holding Rama.

This starts off very pleasant with a sweet vanilla and sandalwood aroma, and promises to develop into something quite heavenly, though never quite takes off - remaining at the same reasonably pleasant level. There are hints of halmaddi, along with a bit of smoke and heat. The aroma doesn't linger heavily - leaving just a subtle hint of the pleasant clean vanilla and sandalwood. It's not a heavy or heavenly masala - something which demands attention, it is simply a pleasant and acceptable everyday incense. An everyday proper job masala.

Score: 35

This incense is not currently available in the UK or US - I was sent it as a sample by Hari Om


Website and contact details:
 Hari Om Panchamukhi.

Hari Om Fragrance

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Hari Om Divine Incense Champa




Hari Om's Divine Incense range is close in style to Moksh incense in terms of box design and the intensity of the floral scents. There's not a lot between them, and if you like Moksh you're likely to like Hari Om's Divine range, and visa versa. Sometimes I find Moksh to be more pleasant, but only just. This is typical - a machine-made perfume-dripped charcoal stick with a chemical based scent. It's a little heavy, and there's some crude off-notes and a bit of heat that I'm not enjoying. I'm not sure if the Divine range are intended to be a better quality than the 12/- range, but if so I'm not getting it, as they are quite similar, though I think I tend to prefer the 12/- range as being cleaner and sweeter.  This is pretty borderline as an acceptable Everyday Incense, but the flaws just tip it into being a Toilet Cleaner - useful just to burn to cover up bad smells. 

Score: 19

Hari Om Fragrance

Monday, 9 July 2018

Opium




There are a number of incense which are called opium. I don't think that the name is intended to refer to the drug, but rather to the 1977 perfume  by Yves Saint Laurent.

Reviews


Bhagvati Ppure Nagchampa
Black Opium

Score: 40

Score: 36


Aromatika Ace Scents
Opium
Score: 32


Tree of Life
Opium

Score: 20



Spiritual Sky
Opium
Score: 20

Divine Spirit
Opium
Score: 18

***




Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Padmini Spiritual Guide




Padmini are a well established Indian company who have been exporting to America since the Sixties, but very few of their products are available in the UK. Aargee import them, but it is difficult to find any shop that stocks more than one or two of the range. I got this from Pilgrims Fair Trade for £1 (it's a domestic brand which sells for 10 rupees (10p) in India).

It's a machine made perfume-dipped charcoal stick. It burns smoothly and evenly. The scent is very pleasant. A mix of soft floral and musk. Quite sweet. There's something reassuringly old fashioned about it. It's more of a room freshener than anything else, and there's a sort of soapy, table polish scent to the stick; but that sounds as if I'm trivialising it, and I'm not. I'm just making observations. I actually like this. It's not a scent that moves me. But as an incense to freshen up the home, this works well. This is decent everyday incense that I would be happy to buy again.

Score:  35

***

Padmini

Padmini




Padmini were founded in the 1960s. Apparently they became known in the US for their little dhoop sticks.  The company is not that well established in the UK, though Aargee import the little dhoop sticks, Gold Statue (originally selling that under their own brand name), and a few others. For a while I thought Padmini was one of Aargee's brand names. It wasn't until a Padmini employee contacted me on my Facebook page that I realised they were an established independent brand. So I'm setting out to explore them a little further.

Reviews


Padmini 
Gold Statue
 Score: 34

Padmini 
Brindavan Sandal  
Score: 29

***

The Best Incense Makers

Sifcon 100 Incense Sticks With Holder Tuberose Gardenia




Another Sifcon bargain at £1.49 from my local hardware shop. These are so cheap I wonder just how much money the producers get.  Once the retailers and distributors take their profit, and the tax, the transport and material costs are taken, and the wooden ash catcher is excluded, just how much money is left for  making 100 sticks? How long does it take to make 100 sticks? These look machine made, and the semi-automatic machines are transforming incense making in India. Machines can churn out up to 150 sticks a minute - as shown here.  I have a slight unease about that as I am attached to the romantic notion of hand rolling - though I sometimes wonder about the pay and conditions of the women who do the hand-rolling - such as these.  Anyway....

The scent is a slightly sharp lemony citric on the stick, which turns more floral and woody when burned. Some of the bamboo sticks are quite thick, with not much paste to absorb the fragrant oils. As such there can be a tendency for the  aroma to be more of the burning bamboo stick than of the fragrant oil. When you do get mostly oil, it is quite pleasant with the summer warmth of rose, enlightened by oranges and jasmine. Quite acceptable. We tend to burn these Sifcon sticks in the garden when we are eating out - which we like to do for breakfast on summer weekends, as well as at other times. The floral aroma seems appropriate, and at the price, we can light several at a time around our table. One of our neighbours if she smells our incense, will come join us.

Not heavenly (indeed, sometimes a little crude), but mostly pleasant, useful, and excellent value for money.

Score: 30

***
Sifcon International

Best floral incense

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Spiritual/Ritual Incense



Incense is burned for a variety of reasons: sometimes for the aesthetic pleasure of the scent, sometimes for therapy or medical reasons, sometimes to create a mood or atmosphere, sometimes to cover up bad odours or to discourage flies. But it is mainly associated with spiritual or ritual use. Some incense may be burned for a variety of uses - some ritual incenses such as frankincense  and myrrh are also often burned just for the aesthetic pleasure of the scent.  But there are some  incense which is burned purely for the ritual/spiritual aspect. I didn't get that for a long time. I was so locked into incense being something that I burned for pleasure, that I assumed that even ritual incense would smell nice. When I asked why people would want to burn those smoky wet dhoops which produce quite acrid smelling smoke, it was gently pointed out to me that the smoke itself is considered to have cleansing power. And something clicked. So in my Incense Listing I have separated out those incenses which clearly prioritise the ritual/spiritual aspect of the incense as it seems inappropriate to be judging them on the same criteria as incense which is mainly burned for the nice smell.  I group them here as well. I still have my personal appreciation scores next to them, but I wonder if that continues to be appropriate.


Ambica Pooja Sambrani (D): 39 
Harati Tibetan Incense: 33 

Hari Om Sambrini
Score: 33
Sumati Padma Tibetan Incense: 30 
Dr. Yonten’s Tibetan Healing Incense: 26 
Raj Guru Vandana Sambrani Cup with Natural Benzoin Filling: 20 
Boudhanath Himalayan Rope Incense Sandalwood: 20 
Bosen Pythoncidere Incense: 19 
Kemet Design Hathor Incense (L): 19 
Kemet Design Kyphi Incense (L): 18 
Kemet Design Bast Incense (L): 15
Vaishnodevi Gugal Dhoop (D): 11
Gopal Joie Deluxe Dhoop (D): 10
Vaishnodevi Chandan Dhoop (D): 10 
Mysore Sugandhi Surya Devya Laxmi Dhoop (D): 10


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

(Mahendra) Ancient Wisdom Freedom Nag Champa




Ancient Wisdom are a UK importer and wholesale distributor of incense which they brand under their own name, as well as marketing Satya and Aargee products.  When I first encountered their products, it was bargain basement unbranded stuff from Vietnam and Thailand - aimed at a undiscriminating audience.  I grew cautious about buying anything that they sold under their own brands because my experiences tended to be of faded generic scents and crude organic core material, which I didn't enjoy; although, their foil-wrapped Red Dragon Incense I found quite enjoyable. However, I do like to keep an open mind, and when browsing the ReallyRelaxing website for some Mahendra incense, I picked up a couple of Ancient Wisdom's new Freedom range to check them out. They were only 75p for a 15g box, so nothing to lose really.

I'm glad I did, because this Nag Champa is not bad. It does help that Ancient Wisdom have commissioned the sticks from Mahendra Perfumery Works of Bangalore, whose everyday perfume-dipped charcoal sticks are quite decent.   The sticks look unpromising on getting out of the packet. They are shorter than average, and of inconsistent thickness on flimsy sticks; there is a whiff of volatile chemical scent which reminds me of cheap pine scented toilet cleaner, and it's also quite candy sweet, like Wild Berry or Juicy Jay's smells on the stick, but which rarely deliver on that tease. 

However, while appearing to be unpromising they do smell quite attractive when burned. Not heavenly, but quite acceptable, with a gentle sweetness and no harsh notes. As with other Mahendra/Betco incenses it tends to the floral, but with an underlying musky sweetness that I find quite pleasant. This is not a divine incense, but it is certainly a very acceptable everyday incense that you could use around the house for a variety of uses.


Score: 31
***

Mahendra Betco - Best of