NOW READING: AN ODE TO FRANKINCENSE

AN ODE TO FRANKINCENSE

Musings on a meditative nectar revered since antiquity.

Aromatics

Frankincense offers a soft, honey-incence scent evocative of desert plains and paperbark woods.

Ritual

Frankincense resin is burned for incense and the oil is commonly used in aromatherapy practices. With naturally purifying and centering qualities, frankincense is called upon for meditation and spiritual introspection. It is believed to help slow, ease and deepen the breath, while quietening and centering the mind.

At Poetica, we call upon frankincense to enhance quiet moments of yoga, breathwork, and reading before bed.

Provenance

Our Omani frankincense is unique to the Arabian peninsula, where the trees grow abundant and wild just behind Oman’s Dhofar Mountains, in a special microclimate that also runs along ancient, UNESCO-recognized trading routes.

Frankincense from other regions is currently challenging if not impossible to source transparently due to regional conflict, instability and poverty. We support the call for frankincense to be protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to further support the sustainable and equitable harvesting of this precious resin.

Harvest and distillation

Small incisions are made into the tree's dry bark, allowing the gum to slowly drip down and harden, before it is sustainably wildgathered by hand. The resin is transformed into essential oil in the ancient city of Muscat, employing traditional copper stills and artisanal distillation practices.

Cultural heritage

A treasure of civilization, frankincense has been used since antiquity, and was once worth more than gold.

The resin was first introduced to Egypt in the third millennium B.C. from the Land of Punt, believed to be modern-day Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Boswellia sacra, which Poetica uses, is the original frankincense specie at the heart of a once flourishing trade across the Middle East and North Africa, which lasted upwards of 5,000 years.

The resin was commonly burned by Babylonians and Assyrians during religious ceremonies, its smoke representing prayers rising to the gods. Ancient Egyptians used it as an incense, insect repellent, perfume and wound salve.

The first use of frankincense in western culture was discovered through poetry, with female Greek poet Sappho’s musings in 600 B.C.:

For your graceful grove of pomegranate trees and your altars smoking with frankincense, here comes cool water, babbling through the branches of pomegranate trees, roses reflected all over the ground, shimmering leaves casting a spell.

Discover

Frankincense is one of the signature botanicals in Poetica's Verdure Botanical Essential Oil, a tranquil composition of mint tea notes grounded in cypress woods and a heart of roses.

verdure essential oil