Mermade Magickal Arts / Kyphi 2014

In the late 90s, I bought my first Kyphi incense from Mermade Magickal Arts, after seeing the recipe for it in Scott Cunninghams’s book The Complete Book of Incenses, Oils and Brews. Kyphi recipes are probably the most elaborate incense recipes available. They usually include raisins, wine, honey and multiple resins and spices and the incense takes multiple steps to complete including some aging and maturing. The recipes come from old Egyptian payprus records and vary in ingredients and steps depending on the recipe.

When I bought my first Mermade kyphi, it was loose and stored in a wonderfully designed glass tube like all of the incenses of the time. It was rich, indulgent and quite arresting, but in a way it was a mere shadow of what Mermade are now doing 15-20 years later. In recent years, Mermade has been creating yearly vintages of this fantastic, legendary incense and the years of experimentation and collaboration (I believe Katlyn Breene and Nathaniel Musselman have both been involved with the evolution of this style over the years) are paying off more and more as each new vintage reaches the market. Kyphi 2014 is absolutely not to be missed if you’re even remotely interested in incense, it is one of the finest scents that has ever reached this nose. And it’s not a loose powder in a glass tube anymore, but small cakes that are sold in both .5 and 1 oz sizes.

This kyphi could almost be a polyincense in that over the period of heating it actually shifts and morphs as the more volatile elements release. The base scent is a fine wine-like, berry-prune-raisin mix that grounds a kaleidoscopic range of subscents and spice notes. While most previous kyphi mixes have evinced the qualities of fine woods, I’m not sure any of them have been as perfect as the woods note in this one which mixes in nicely with some leather and turpentine hints. As the incense heats, it changes and shift, alternatively fruity, creamy, rich, delicate, intense, teasing, fruity and spicy. The complexity of it would be bewildering in different hands but here there is no obfuscation at all in the delivery; at all times you can sense both the separation and mingling of the fine ingredients involved.

This is truly the work of people who are deeply passionate about fine incense, a work that shows a level of professionalism and commitment that could be unmatched in this country. And better yet, there should be a Deep Earth 2014 to be released soon that is something of an offshoot of the kyphi, an incense no less impressive and complex. To this day, I’d be hard pressed to even think of a Mermade incense that isn’t at the apex of its craft, so to see the company continue to raise the bar on fine incense is something to be celebrated.

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5 Comments

  1. rc said,

    July 13, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I purchased this along with the electric heater, the Nuit, some copals, and some of the pastilles. At first, I was annoyed to see packets of things I did not order, while what I had ordered was not present. What a delightful surprise to find my actual items were tucked inside the heater kit, and the “mistakes” were generous samples. The samples received were so numerous that it will be some time before I need to re-order. Will this hurt business? Not from me, because it guarantees I will be order more for a long time to come. Very nice stuff… the family loves it too. The Golden Lotus has been a boon as well. I have found that I can even break up some of my more potent Tibetan sticks and put them in, creating a still-wonderful smell but without the smoke that my family complains about.

    Thanks for turning me onto this maker!

    • Mike said,

      July 16, 2014 at 10:25 am

      Oh yes, Mermade is by far one of the most generous companies out there, even more so when you consider that so much of their product is limited edition or changes from vintage to vintage. Singing their praises is one of my favorite jobs here. :) Incense can have a funny way of hiding in the packaging material from any company. And yes for sure, you can put any kind of incense out there on the heater, sometimes they even smell quite different that way. Thanks for weighing in!

  2. April 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

    When I purchased the Golden Lotus heater recently, I also purchased the Kyphi. It is brilliant and I love the nuanced layers you can pick up when using the GE burner.

    This was my first Mermade purchase and not only did my order ship immediately, but I received some incredible samples (with purchase of GE burner) and everything I have tried so far has been exquisite. The Gaia Tree and Sweet Myrrh Pastilles are uniquely atmospheric. It is no wonder Mermade has been revered as a top crafter and I completely understand the reviews I have read here at ORS. I am very pleased and cannot wait to order again. It doesn’t hurt the Katlyn is also really friendly! What a class act. :)

    I also wanted to thank the good folks at ORS for this amazing resource. Because of you, I have recently expanded my incense collection (and I’ve had to build a display for the damn thing) to include some real treasures. I’m already compiling another order to Beth and Katlyn! I do wish I had read the Ecclecstacy thread before purchasing there though. I did eventually receive my order but I had to send several emails over the course of a few weeks before I received a shipping notice. My order was missing a few items that were out of stock and it came with a note that I am to be refunded. I’m hoping that will come to fruition…I’d like to use those funds for another shameless order with Beth.

    • Mike said,

      April 26, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Solstice Scents and good luck with your situation! I should have a Gaia Tree review up pretty soon as well, it’s another success.

  3. April 21, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Mike, I am very appreciative of your kind words and support through the years!


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