Sabbath Ramblings: Incense & Oil.

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Today's rambling is a bit brief.

Perhaps you read my recent thoughts on sobriety. If you didn't, you should check out the recent article about that here, in which I describe what it actually means to be “sober”; the fascinating history of the use of psychedelics and plant medicines in Judaism, Christianity, and other religions; where cannabis fits in and whether it is the equivalent of being drunk on booze, what God and the Bible say about “altered states of consciousness,” and much more.

Anyways, as a part of that article, I discussed the fascinating blends of oil and incense (also known as the Ketoret) that the Levite priests would burn in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, and explored the potentially psychedelic or consciousness-altering potential of those mixes.

For example, Exodus 30:23-24 says:

“Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane (in other translations, this would be called kaneh-bosm and also sweet calamus, and was most likely cannabis), and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil.”

And Exodus 30:34-35 says:

God says to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy.”

The Talmud (a central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law) adds to the ingredient list for the incense a few additional plants and herbs, including saffron, cassia, cinnamon, mastic, costus, spikenard, and agarwood. Go read the article to learn all the science and physiology behind why these would have been extremely potent blends for causing significant neurotransmitter and neurochemical shifts in the brain that would most likely have produced a noticeable mind-altering effect that could have resulted in more deep or enhanced communication with God.

Anyways, at the time of that writing, I hadn't actually tried these blends for myself. After all, who has piles of frankincense, myrrh, mastic, spikenard, agarwood, and the like just sitting around in their pantry?

But in the past few weeks, I had the chance to hunt down both the incense blend and the oil from, in this case, a small company in Port Angeles, Washington that actually replicates these type of Biblical recipes in their entirety. The only compound not included, for legality reasons, was any THC derived from cannabis. So I proceeded to purchase both the holy incense and the anointing oil, along with a charcoal incense burner, which is apparently the best way to burn the incense.

Then, three nights ago, when my sons were at a sleepover at their friend's house, my wife Jessa and I brought the incense burner, oil, and incense, along with a cannabis vape pen, into the sauna—which is probably the smallest enclosed space in our house where the smoke from the incense could become highly concentrated.

We then proceeded to do the following:

-Rubbed about two quarter-size portions of the anointing oil over the carotid arteries on either side of our neck, and on the temples behind the eyes. 

-Lit the charcoal until it became quite hot (approximately three minutes under the flame) and then placed about a half teaspoon of the incense powder on it. 

-Took a hit on the vape pen, but a very small hit, mind you—definitely nowhere near the amount necessary to get one high or stoned.

-Closed our eyes and began deep breathing, meditation, and eventually, prayer—all while smoke filled the sauna.

What happened next was one of the craziest plant medicine experiences I've ever had.

My third eye began dazzling with bright flashes of light and color, as though the DMT molecule floodgates had opened as wide as they would have had I done, say, an hour of holotropic breathwork, or a hit of DMT itself.

The inside of my hands and feet felt as though they quadrupled in size, and my entire body felt light, expansive, and very much “open,” as though I were on high doses of a heart opener such as MDMA.

My wife and I attempted to look into each other's eyes and talk together about what we were experiencing but felt instead an overwhelming sensation to simply close our eyes and slip into a deep meditation, combined with voicing prayers of gratefulness and worship to God.

I felt an intense sensation of simultaneous openness, gratefulness and happiness, along with a deep desire to connect to the Divine.

Mind you, this was at about 7 pm, and though we both had to slip out of the sauna after about thirty minutes to go finish our day's duties, neither of us had any inkling of an appetite and felt quite uneasy about eating. Furthermore, we were still feeling the effects of the blend well into the night, including when I woke up at midnight to use the restroom.

As a matter of fact, had I known the potency of this unique combination, I would have carved out an entire day of fasting, meditation, and prayer, and begun a protocol like this at perhaps eight or nine o'clock in the morning.

My ultimate takeaway after this profound experience is this: God is the Creator. He knows every plant, herb, fruit, vegetable, tree, and shrub He placed upon this planet in intimate detail, and also knows how to expertly combine any of them for very impressive effects. In this case, He appears to have given Moses instructions for how to make incense and oil that, when combined and applied in the proper set and setting, elevate one's state of consciousness into a dimension that is absolutely perfect for speaking to Him, listening to Him and deepening one's personal connection to Him.


…that's what happened.

And like I mentioned, now that I understand the power of this blend, the next time I'm going to approach a session like this with a bit more forethought and planning—and will also report back to you after I do. In the meantime, has anyone else tried the incense and oil from the book of Exodus? Do you have thoughts, comments, or feedback about this, or the accompanying article on sobriety that sent me down this path in the first place? Leave your musings below. I read them all. 

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14 thoughts on “Sabbath Ramblings: Incense & Oil.

  1. b says:

    sounds like carbon monoxide poisoning

  2. CH says:

    This all sounds really hokey. Having an altered state of consciousness with a herb concoction in a sauna? And if you are a Christian, why are you making a distinction between meditation and prayer? Are you referring to meditating on actual Scripture? Because that is the only type of meditation contained in Christianity. I think you need to be careful.

  3. Brian says:

    It may also be, as in many other cases, that orthodoxy takes precedent and those in positions of authority did/do not want the common man/woman to partake in the same rituals they would prefer to reserve to themselves.

  4. brad says:

    ummmm the bible forbids experimenting with ketoret…..”and its mesurement you shant make like it….”

  5. Jared Palanzi says:

    The Bible strongly discourages druggery (pharma-keia)

  6. How fascinating. I’m particularly struck by the impetus both of you had to praise G-d and pray.
    Our prayers are referred to as being like a sweet incense and I found that an interesting result of using this mixture.
    Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

  7. There are fairly strict prohibitions on the use of these as an incense in Judaism outside of its narrowly prescribed uses and I would just say, be careful however it is highly unlikely you have the exact mixture. Heaven can appear to be not that forgiving with spiritual experimenters. Not saying you are doing this, but it is something to be cautious with. That being said, it is perfectly safe to use these as essential oils and there are Israeli herbalist companies that have blended the oils, based on in depth research with Rabbinical scholars who specialize in this, all of this being done with the hope that things will be ready when the Temple will be rebuilt. Anyway, the essential oil blends are available and encouraged to be used by some authorities. Incense, though is strongly prohibited. If you want resources for the essential oil blends I can point you in the right direction. There is a lot I could add here, regarding ketoret and the verses that discuss it specifically, but I’m choosing to stop.

  8. George Turner Howard says:

    I’m being as sincere and intentionally pure as I can when posing this question after having read your blogs on a consistent basis over the past several years: Where do you find the time to engage in all of your daily biohacking?

  9. M says:

    I assume this was done with the sauna off?Interested in hearing about the followup!

  10. B says:

    In the Bible did they close themselves in a tight space to concentrate the smoke?

    1. Tom says:

      Yes, from my understanding, the tabernacle was essentially a hot box of incense. They would attach a chain to the Preist that would go in there in the event he passed out

    2. Jared Palanzi says:

      Yes, Moses had an infrared sauna. 🙄

  11. Hampton says:

    This scripture came to heart. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word (Heb 1:1-4)

    Jesus life, death and resurrection opened the new covenant to experience the in dwelling of His Spirit, that is the Spirit of God, the person of His presence via the new heart.

    I see that these previous herbal instructions allowed man enter the spirit realm to hear and follow God as they had no way yet to receive the in dwelling Spirit as Christ had not yet come.

    However there where much more instructions that went into this beyond the herbs, and it was God’s perfect and specific wisdom in the time of the law and temple according the priestly order.

    While we are not necessarily condemned to explore these things, I think the question we must continuously ask is, are we seeking to drink the new wine of Christ’s Spirit by resurrecting an old wine skin that has served its purpose according to the first covanent as God intended until His fullness could come in Jesus Christ the Lord.

    Blessings brother

    1. DARRYL says:

      Well said Hampton. Not being as versed on scripture as you are, but share the same Holy Spirit, I can usually determine if I’m questioning an action I’m considering doing, by asking myself a yes or no question, “Does it please God”?

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