Smoke Dreamings: A Meditation on Incense

The smoke coils, slides between the cool curtains of air like a thief stealing into the king’s harem. Sparks fly – shooting stars, the light of sunset reflecting off tin.

I slide into a mystical space that is both physical and spiritual. The incense stick is earthbound – like me, it will burn for a finite time. Yet the gossamer spirit it releases is untethered by time or space.

It doesn’t bring me completely into an inner realm, this smoky meditation. It involves my senses as I follow whirls and curlicues of smoke upward and outward into the room, and take it inward into me, filling my lungs as I breathe.


It starts with the tsk tsk of a lighter, burnt fingers as the slightly damp stick refuses to light, then the glowing ember begins defiantly. Slid into the crack of a table for want of a more purpose built receptacle, it is one of many sticks slid into wanting cracks, releasing blue smoke that rises in an ethereal belly dance.

Ashes collapse in silky grey sheets, purified by fire.

Thoughts release, burning up in the darkness and hitting cold air, releasing like snowflakes with scented silver plume. They are light now, air. The weight of more negative thoughts become light like air, the atmosphere altered, thoughts transcending the earth heaviness. My altered sense now guides more inspired thoughts, drifting through diaphonous curtains to new rooms in this house of the soul.

I am the stick – my inner fire sparks magic into the waiting world. The part of me that emanates outward, expanding to mingle with the breath of those around me. I can see into the swirling smoke of my life’s path, not a straight and certain thing but a meandering spin that moves up and around and on and on. Little parts of me are left behind, bouncing off the various landscapes I inhabit and move through, but one day all of me will be smoke – a slight scent left behind maybe, fading, but the rest softening into a oneness with all that is.

There is beauty and wonder as I burn, spirit and matter, heaven and earth.

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