Mermade Magickal Arts / Serpent Flame, Pan’s Earth, Wings of Air, Mermade Moon, Sacred Spirit, Salome, Wilderness

[Note: several of these incenses were limited editions and have been since discontinued. Check with Mermade Magickal Arts for availability]

I will always be fond of Mermade Magickal Arts as one of the companys that really showed me how amazing incense could be. While the company does not make them anymore, at one point loose incenses like Shamanic Circle and Dragon Fire were among my staples, blended incenses with fantastic ingredients that had a similar effect like aloeswood on my subconscious. When these were first available, several of the blends had unusual and possibly psychoactive ingredients like datura in them. I noticed the last time I bought these blends before their discontinuation that the ingredients had changed a little and while the new versions were similar, by then either they weren’t having the same effects on me or they were truly different. I originally tried Shamanic Circle in the practice room of a band I was working with and it had a pretty major impact on everyone. I remember thinking hours after the experience that I could smell the incense floating around my memory. In fact the very existence of this site may be partially because of this blend and its company, so in a way I feel I’m coming full circle in being able to talk about them.

I wanted to set this up to demonstrate that to some extent because of these experiences, I’ll always be fond of this company, one that appears to base their products (from incense to music and beyond) on Wiccan/magickal concepts. Immediately I thought of the Scott Cunningham Llewellyn books on incense and my own experiences in making blends from those recipes over a decade ago. This relatively new line of incense “cones” that I’ll be covering here sticks fairly closely to these spiritually minded methods of making incense allied with an experienced hand in incense creation. Every cone here feels like the recipe was experimented with and slightly changed to reach a balance between the woods, resins, herbs and oils in them. And not only that but those familiar with experimenting with these ingredients on their own will realize that there is a rather high quality of ingredients in these “cones.”

I use the term cones in quotes because these are not your typical cones, rather they’re shaped more like flat triangles. The first five incenses (part of the Nature Spirits series) here follow western magickal elemental correspondances and in most cases the element corresponding with the incense can be guessed from the name. And better yet, the elemental quality of each cone comes out quite obviously upon burning. One thing is for sure, most of these incenses have very high quantities of resin in them and if you’re coming over from the Japanese incense side and known Minorien’s Frankincense, you’ll already have your foot in the door in terms of the spicy resin like quality of the cones.

Appropriately the series starts off with Serpent Flame, the incense corresponding with the fire element. Expectations that this would be spicy and hot were met. The base appears to be benzoin, dragons blood and balsam tolu, but particularly I was thinking of the hotter Benzoin Siam when burning this, except that Mermade have managed to balance some of the more difficult sides of this resin. The quality of (Madagascar) cinnamon in this appears to be high and it gives the incense a sort of cinnamon bun like scent, except with hints of shoe polish (in a good way of course) that I’d chalk up to the dragon’s blood. It’s a very friendly incense that really got the whole series off to a nice start.

Pan’s Earth reminded me quite a bit of some of the Cunningham earth-related recipes. I was pretty surprised not to see patchouli on the list of ingredients as it seems by far the strongest note in this incense. This sort of patchouli oil is similar to the types that tend to put some westerners off, except that this is definitely higher quality than what I walked by this morning, a little sweeter and closer to the Himalayan patchouli that I’m fond of. I’m left wondering if part of this might be the vetivert. The other ingredients in the incense are aloeswood, Hougary frankincense and juniper and I particularly get the juniper which gives it a bit of evergreen spice. I thought I got benzoin and lemon from this as well which undoubtedly was the frankincense ingredient.

Lavender is almost always associated with the air element, so its presence in Wings of Air was not surprising. Adding sweetgrass and Himalayan juniper to the mix intensifies this feeling and in terms of hitting the element on the nose, this is almost close to perfect. Using lighter resins like elemi and mastic seems like a very intelligent choice, you get the depth of aroma from the resin without the more definitive notes that come with frankincense, myrrh, benzoin and the like. If the oil note in Pan’s Earth was somewhat overwhelmed by the patchouli (or vetivert) notes, in Wings of Air it’s almost picture perfect. While every single one of these incenses really gets the elemental correspondances right, this might be the classic example in the group.

Mermade Moon is the line’s water incense and as of today looks like the company’s number one bestseller. It’s basically a spicy myrrh incense with quite a bit of play in the oil, which, given the ingredient list, I’d probably chalk up to the Jasmine Sambac. In fact it’s hard to imagine many watery incenses without jasmine as its perfume tends to really capture the changeable nature of a body of water. Apparently the base was white sandalwood, which was a note I didn’t notice so much probably due to the stronger aromatics. Or better yet, this incense uses the fixative onycha, an ingredient from a certain seashells that was apparently used in the original Hebrew temple incense. It all adds up to a rather sultry and slightly Scorpio-like musky blend that could rank as one of Mermade’s best cones.

The Nature Spirits series final “elemental” incense is Sacred Spirit. This is the series woodiest incense by far with liberal amounts of aloeswood and sandalwood. While both of these ingredients do show up in some of the other cones, this was the first where I really noticed them as part of my notes. The woods give this scent a bit more of a sublime scent than the other four, which strikes me as perfect for the “akasha” element in that it’s the one that triggered the most subconscious impressions for me. Like Pan’s Earth, this also has a bit of frankincense to it that gives the scent some more depth.

Mermade’s line Scents of the Sensuous includes Salome. This appears to be a much thicker cone than usual, possibly due to the high number of ingredients in the blend. It’s slightly reminiscent of the above-mentioned Serpent Flame, although not as spicy (and certainly not firey). I’d assume the Tolu Balsam is the ingredient that connects the two. It seems with this incense that it’s a little less about a concept and more about the aroma itself and as such this seems a bit more complex than the elemental line, with varying notes of frankincense and labdanum. It’s very rich and sultry and it strikes me that you actually need very little of the cone to fragrance a space. I was reminded at this point just how important resins are to Mermade incense and there were times this reminded me of a catholic or orthodox resin blend.

I couldn’t find Wilderness on the Mermade site (and it also took me a while to track down Salome), which makes it a little more difficult to describe. But like Salome, Wilderness is very similar to loose resin blends, in this case usually close to forest/celtic type blends with overtones of greenery and trees. I found this a really nice, evocative scent, with the base resin blend spiced up by various herbs. Some of these were spicy, roughly in the nutmeg, mace, clove and cinnamon territories except I wouldn’t swear to any of these being part of it per se. Of the incenses here, this was the one that took the longest to absorb as there seems to be a lot going on with it.

Mermade Magickal Arts have been around since 1984, a family operation whose long years of experience really shows in the creation of these incenses. All of their cones show a great deal of thought in terms of combining base notes, oils and resins and as so many of their incenses are based on various resins, it’s almost as if these cones are a new class or style of incense and as such are a welcome element of one’s diverse collection of scents. It’s great to see this outfit still in operation over the years, still combining art, music, spirituality and craft into a distinctive name brand that continues to be one of the best creative enterprises for scent in the US market.

A second installment of Mermade incenses is forthcoming, covering a few of the company’s loose blends, all of which take me quite a bit longer to go through.



  1. Lars Olav said,

    October 26, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Just recieved a new order from Mermade.
    As a free gift I was sent a full size vial with “Shaman’s Circle”.
    It’s incredible, and I thought I would let you know that it probably will be available again.
    I also got a sample of “Heart of the Sun” which I guess is new, very heavy on the myrrh.
    There is also a new Nature Spirits triangle called “Indigo Peace” featuring lavender and vanilla.

  2. Mike said,

    May 19, 2008 at 7:20 am

    Thanks for the heads up on these Ross.

  3. Ross said,

    May 17, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Just got in two of the the new glass vials. Very nice packaging. The incenses are wonderful. Midsummer Nights Dream and Babylon. The Midsummer has lots of finally ground resins and herbs/florals. I am not real sure of what is in it but it is very nice and does indeed call to mind the season. I used it in my Shoyeido wiz-bang electric heater. I think it would be equaly as good but prehaps differnt on charcoal ( which I plan on testing out tonight). The Babylon is a Bakhoor style, again I used it in the electric heater. I have got to say that it is the best smelling rose scent I have found. Lush, rich and voluptous all come to mind. Really wonderful.
    I am working my way through the Ancient Temples line at the moment. These are small nuggets of resin/oils and herb/spices, I really like them, especially in the heat wave that is hitting the SF Bay Area right now. In a warm enviroment with no AC lots of smoke can be a little much for me, so the heater works as a great alternative. Used in the heater they generate a wonderful series of scents within the room. I am somewhat stuck on Fire Circle and Good Fortune right now. Just can not seem to get enough. There is an overall resin hit, but there are also many other things going on within this that keep me coming back for many repeats.


  4. Mike said,

    May 15, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Katlyn, would be happy to review others, it’s fine work (I know I’m curious about the Divine Lover Ross mentioned. I loved the old style tubes, so that’s great news. I should be getting around to the loose incenses eventually, I just haven’t spent a lot of time with that style lately. I may even have some old Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun left to add, always loved those resin blends too. Also, if you have a direct link to the Wilderness blend, I’d like to add it here. Best, Mike

  5. May 14, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Thank you Mike for your review , it means alot! I can see you really took your time with each scent.
    I’ll send along new blends as they emerge.

    You are right Scott Cunningham was an old friend and advisor. Though we cannot re-create the old blends (they had fragrance oils in them) we are going back to the old style glass vials and beeswax packaging this year. The 100% natural is challenging but worth it to me.

    Your thoughts are really appreciated.

    Blessings, Katlyn

  6. Ross said,

    May 7, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I started off with their Divine Lover, they sent samples with the order and now I’ve ordered two or three times more. It’s not Japaneses tyle(but there are many of the same things in both styles), it is, however, really good and fun to boot. The quality of the ingredients seems to be very high, as Mike mentioned. So high that I have to wonder how they can sell at these prices. The “presentation” is also very well done. There have always been some extra samples thrown in and I just find the whole vibe/energy of the product to be very high and made by people who know what they are doing and are really into it. The Ancient Temples line can be burned on charcoal, but an electric burner is a much more controllable unit. They even sell one at a great price.


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