Styrax benzoin

Planetary ruler: Sun

Element: air

Associated deities: Aphrodite, Freya, Ares, Hathor, Khephera, Mut, Nike, Typhon, Venus

Magical virtues: cleansing, purifying, calming, balance, harmony, concentration


Benzoin, also called gum benzoin, is a balsamic resin obtained from trees in the genus Styrax native to Sumatra, Thailand, Vietnam, Java, and China. The sweet fragrance of benzoin has made it a popular ritual incense and cosmetic ingredient since ancient times.  It must have been traded across the seas from an early age, as it appears on ancient Egyptian records.  


Benzoin resin is employed in incense-making where, as well as adding a beautiful scent, it acts as a preservative. It clears and concentrates the mind when meditating, cleanses and purifies the space, calms, soothes and balances the emotions. It can also be added to Sun and air incenses, and those of any of the above-mentioned deities.


Used in small quantities, benzoin is added to baked goods as a flavouring and vanilla scent. Use as a preservative in potpourri.


Use the antibacterial ground powder, mixed with a little rosewater, as a skin exfoliant. Dissolve the powder in a little hot water and massage into your scalp to treat irritation, itching and dandruff. Add it to your homemade beauty products as a natural preservative, perfume anchor and antioxidant.


The resinous powder and essential oil are used. Commercially, benzoin is included in cough drops.  For home use, dissolve some benzoin powder in boiling water and inhale the steam for chest complaints, asthma and bronchitis. Applied to the skin, the infusion may be of help for ulcers, bed sores wounds, eczema, psoriasis and rashes.


Food amounts of benzoin are considered generally safe, but taking medicinal amounts internally is not recommended. Benzoin applied to the skin can cause rashes in some sensitive individuals.  


Author: annafranklinblog

Anna Franklin is the High Priestess of the Hearth of Arianrhod, which runs teaching circles, a working coven, and the annual Mercian Gathering, a Pagan camp which raises money for charity. She regularly speaks at conferences, moots and workshops around the country. She is the author of many books on witchcraft and Paganism, including the popular Pagan Ways Tarot, Sacred Circle Tarot, The Fairy Ring, Herb Craft, Magical Incenses and Oils, Personal Power, A Romantic Guide to Handfasting, Familiars, The Oracle of the Goddess, Hearth Witch, The Path of the Shaman and The Hearth Witch’s Compendium. Anna’s books have been translated into nine languages.

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