It wasn't until I was introduced to defensive spells that I learned the difference between magickal incense and regular incense.
I soon found out that incense can be quite overpriced. Pagan/metaphysical/new age stores are hard to find here in Houston. In fact, I would say they are only a handful and quite overpriced. There are more Yerberias/Botanicas due to the large Latin / Mexican community. But these too are overpriced. I remember buying a pack of sandalwood incense with 20 sticks for 3+ dollars. Not to be cheap, but that can put a dent on your budget.
I've been lucky enough to find deals where I least expect it. I bought close to the entire supply of incense from Big Lots. They were selling these made in India hand rolled packs of 20 sticks for $2 AND it included beautiful hand made incense holders.
I've seen those sold online anywhere from 4 to 6 each! I got a handmade incense holder + the actual incense for only $2.
The only scents they had available were jasmine, musk, patchouli, and rose; which are a pretty good basis to start off an incense collection, they're packed with multiple magickal properties that range from love, protection, & money (among others).
I stocked up on incense + incense holders --they actually make great gifts / decoration! I have them hanging on my windows, the little mirrors encrusted in the design are perfect to reflect energy. The shapes are also meaningful. These incense holders come in the shape of a heart, square, diamond and hexagon. I've dressed them with different oils depending on the shape and intention. I absolutely love them!
I have to say that my collection of incense has grown since then. I have a small treasure chest full of stick, cone, powder, and home made incense. ^_^
I bought a couple of home made incense from Rowan Pendragon; and let me just say, they're worth the price. One of my favorites is her Tarot incense, its so inspiring. The scent relaxes you while helping you focus. The scent makes me happy.
I wish I could figure out a way to burn it more often. It needs self igniting charcoal... and well, it's a bit of a hassle. Plus I don't always sit and study for the duration of the burning charcoal, I hate to be wasteful. Wonder if Rowan can make a Tarot liquid incense? Wouldn't that be magickal!? ^_^
I really want to try to make my own incense. I have Cunningham's "Incense, oils & Brews" book, but I've yet to try incense making. I mainly use it as a quick reference. I haven't gotten a hold of the essential gums & resins (I have too much on my plate); besides, I have a full treasure chest of incense already.
My mom found a great shop at the traders market. The incense is sold in small packs of 8 sticks at 2 packs a dollar. They're of high quality and the selection is huuuuge. I think I'm in love. She got me sage, rosemary, eucalyptus, clove, sandalwood, myrrh, as well as other blends to honor the Sun, Divine Beauty, harmony & many other more.
What I love about incense (aside from the awesome scents) is its ability to lift one's spirits. It helps you relax and opens up your senses. It prepares you for magickal work. It enhances and empowers the energy vibrations to better support your magick's intent.
You can smoke up an entire room by burning incense and with that cleanse, attune or fill that same room with the energy carried within the smoke.
Burning incense is practiced as a form of honoring of one's ancestors, deities, the 4 corners, God & Goddess, etc. It helps by raising the energy to the one that resonates mostly with your intent --I burn incense as offerings to my ancestors and the energies I work with when I'm crafting or meditating.
I have to admit that if I could, I would buy an entire shop of these wonderful scented sticks! The possibilities are endless =)