Boswellia thurifera

Planetary ruler: Sun

Element: fire

Associated deities: Adonis,Aphrodite, Apollo, Bel, Demeter, Hades, Helios, Jehovah, Jesus, moon goddesses, Pluto, Ra, sun gods, Venus, Vishnu, Vulcan, Yama

Magical virtues: purification, consecration, meditation, love, aphrodisiac


Frankincense has been in use as a religious and magical herb for thousands of years, burned in the temples of ancient Egypt and at sunrise in honour of the sun god Ra. In ancient Greece the ritual of sacrifice was opened with grains of frankincense and myrrh thrown onto the fire as a bloodless offering to the gods. It is still used in churches and religious ceremonies around the world.


In incense, frankincense resin cleanses, purifies, consecrates and raises vibrations. It may be added to most incenses but is particularly useful in purification and meditation blends; the fragrance concentrates the mind and drives away negativity. Frankincense may be used to invoke any of the gods above, and is particularly sacred to sun gods and may be used in all rituals to do with the sun. It is also associated with moon goddesses; its milky tears may be used at full moon rituals. It is sacred to Aphrodite, goddess of love, and may be used in love incenses and rituals.


The resin is edible and can be chewed like gum, but only if you use food grade grains. The burning resin repels insects.


Add frankincense extract to creams to minimise wrinkles and to tighten sagging skin. The resin can be powdered and added to baking soda to make an antiseptic tooth powder or dab this under the arms as a naturally deodorising ‘talc’.   


The essential oil and resin are used. The essential oil should never be taken internally, but the resin can, in moderation. The resin can be infused with boiling water, in a carrier oil, or made into a tincture with alcohol and taken to treat coughs, colds and congestion, cystitis and used externally to promote the healing of wounds. It can be chewed like gum to treat digestive ailments. A few drops of the essential oil can be used in a steam inhalation to clear a cold.


Do not ingest frankincense if you take medication to prevent blood clotting. Do not use the essential oil internally at all.  

© Anna Franklin, from the forthcoming Hearth Witch’s Concise Herbal, Llewellyn, 2023


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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