Incense makers! If you didn’t get your hands on Carl F. Neal’s first edition of Incense: Crafting and Use of Magical Scents, then definitely run to your nearest independent bookseller and order the second edition now. Actually, go ahead and get that second edition even if you already own the first edition. It’s worth it.

Neal walks every would-be incense maker through the art of making cone, stick, and disk incense. You will rethink salt petre. You will find fresh revelations on sandalwood. You will never look at scrap paper quite the same way again.

Neal is conscientious in his details, instructing clearly on how to keep incense making as earth-friendly as possible, what everyday items make excellent binders and incense liquids, and why he does not simply provide incense recipe formulas.

For those that still rely on Cunningham’s the Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews or Wylundt’s Book of Incense for guidance and recipes, take the next step with Neal. Rather than focus on recipes the focus shifts to materials common to incense blends, the process of blending them, and the best low-waste methods of trial and error. While there is a chapter of recipes, it defies the longstanding formulas used in crafting texts. This book offers lessons in transition from casual beginner to serious artisan.

This arduously detailed set of instructions belongs on the shelf of every incense maker, whether for magic, prayer, or pleasure.

Highly recommended.

~ review by Diana Rajchel

Author: Carl F. Neal
Llewellyn, 2014
pp. 247, $19.99