The smell of incense

From time to time, people have reported smelling incense during prayer when no incense has been burnt.

A prayer of the Eastern Church, thought to be a very ancient prayer, runs: Let my prayer rise like incense before you. This itself is a quotation from the psalms:

May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice
– Psalm 141:2

This image persists in Judaism:

Let my prayer rise like incense before you
– v27 SHir Hakavid (Song of Glory), attributed to Rabbi Judah the Pietist (Yehudah Hechasid) (d. 1217) quoted in My People’s Prayer Book: Shabbat Morning: Shacharit and Musaf (Morning and Additional Services) edited by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman p 158,

The same image is found in China. In Tai Ji, a move of the sword (jian) set describes the smoke rising from a stick of incense, although in this case there is a dual meaning: it refers to energy rising within the body

Incense was burnt in the temple of Solomon as part of the temple cult. It is still burnt in Catholic and Orthodox chuches. In the inner sanctuary – the holy of holies – Yahweh would appear inside a cloud of incense.

More than this, I cannot say

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~ by scalambra on May 10, 2010.

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