Arachnae's Metaphysics

The Sacred Woods: Sandalwood, Cypress, Juniper & Cedar

Incense has been in use for at least the last five thousand years. As long as there has been offerings to the gods, incense has been one of the most pleasing.

Wood was probably the very first incense. It didn't take a genius to recognize that when certain woods are burned, they emit a pleasant odor. These woods, usually rarer than the less aromatic ones, were soon used as burnt offerings, to please or propitiate a diety, to sanctify an area or purify objects, occasions and beings.

Many of these woods are still used in compounding stick, cone and resinous incenses today. And of course, you can just burn the unaltered plant material right on a block of incense charcoal to release its purifying odor.


Sandalwood is a very pricy powder; it is burned on charcoal blocks. (You can also find it formulated in incense sticks and cones, often mixed with other ingredients to keep the cost down.) Sandalwood is a purifying, sanctifying scent and is often used to clear the mind for meditation or other mind work such as astral travel or energy healing. It offers psychic protection, and spiritual healing. The sandalwood made from the 'heartwood' has the strongest scent and is therefore the most expensive. Sandalwood is becoming difficult to purchase in loose powder form


In Greek mythology, Cyparissus was young boy beloved of Apollo. The god gifted his lover with a stag for a companion. But Cyparissus accidentally killed his sleeping pet with a carelessly thrown javelin, and begged Apollo to allow him to mourn forever. The god granted his wish, turning him into a cypress tree, still the symbol of mourning today.

Cypress is an evergreen, useful not only for purifying and sanctifying, but for healing, comfort and protection.


A conifer used similarly to Cypress. Use for protection, for purifying and for clearing a space or item of negativity.


Another evergreen, cedar also has a notable historical record as a sacred wood. For magickal applications, it can be substituted for the more expensive sandalwood, according to wiccan author Scott Cunningham. Native Americans use cedar as one of their smudging herbs - smudging done with cedar is often called 'cedaring'.