When you’re getting started with Vodun or related systems, one of the things you’ll probably use the most is Eshu incense. Since he is the Master of the Gateway to the Spirit realm, all prayers, rituals, and ceremonies should begin with gaining permission, guidance, and protection with Eshu. Though he does not require much formality, it is helpful to us to burn incense to show respect for the forces of Nature he embodies. So here is a recipe made with basic ingredients that can be found in most western kitchens, herb shops, markets, and online stores.
I apologize that this page wasn’t functioning properly for so long. Our recipe card plugin stopped working. So here is the standard recipe for Elegua or Eshu incense in Ile Baalat Teva.
This recipe is for a big batch because most of us who are Eshu aware, burn incense for him every Monday.
- 1/4 cup myrrh, benzoin, or almond resin tears or 1/8 cup powder
- 1/2 cup sandalwood or aloeswood/agarwood/oudh chips or 1/4 cup powder
- 1/4 cup chewing or hookah tobacco, preferably honey flavored
- 1/2 cup roasted coffee beans or 1/4 cup coffee powder
- 1 teaspoon cardamom unless the coffee already has it (it may be called “hel”)
- 1/4 cup star anise or 1/8 cup powder
- 1/4 cup cinnamon bark chips or 1/8 cup cinnamon powder
- 1 heaping teaspoon clove powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- enough Elegua oil, added a few drops at a time, to make everything just a little “damp”
- (optional) ground rooster leg bones if you can find them, and if not, large chicken bones
On a Monday, gather all of your ingredients and arrange them on a plate, and when you do your normal offerings and open the ceremony, pass them through the smoke of incense, and ask Eshu to bless them.
Grind the resins thoroughly, and even if everything is already powdered, mash them together in the mortar and pestle. Then add the rest of the dry ingredients, and try to pulverize them as well as you can.
Add the tobacco, and keep pounding. Then add the oil a few drops at a time, until you have a slightly damp, crumbly, sort of sticky mixture.
Transfer this to a glass jar, and let it age in a cool, dark place for three weeks. Then it’s ready to use.
Burn this incense on a piece of charcoal or in a bakhoor burner.