Friday, December 30, 2011

Kapet (Kyphi)

My last post got me thinking a bit on the old blog I had here a few years back. I remembered this recipe for kapet which I used in many of my rituals when honoring the Egyptian Deities. Thought it would be worth sharing again...

Kapet, also known by the Greek kyphi, is a type of incense that was popular in ancient Egypt. Quite a few recipes and methods of creation have come down to us, although many are incomplete as we do not know the correct translation for each ingredient. Kapet was burned as an incense, but it was not much like the incense we know today, as it was often more like a thick liquid. Some forms of kapet were also used as an internal medicine, or sometimes as a salve.

There are many modern ways to make Kapet, and after experimenting with a few old and new methods, this is the recipe I prefer to use.

(Day One) Pour 1 bottle of red wine into a large glass jar with tight lid. To that add 250g chopped raisins and two cinnamon sticks.
(Day Four) Add 50g chopped lemon grass.
(Day Six) Add 100g of roughly powdered myrrh.
(Day Eight) Add 4 tbsp tincture of juniper berry and 2tbsp of almond extract. Alternatively, juniper berries and crushed almonds - but add the almonds on day four if not using an extract. They will not have as strong of a scent.

(Day Fourteen) Strain the mixture, keeping the scented wine. Boil 300g honey and 60g frankincense until it becomes thick. (I keep an old separate pot for this, frankincense can be very sticky stuff when heated, and hard to fully clean off.) Then add the wine to the pot and heat until the mixture is slightly thickened and comes together. Pour back into a clean glass jar.

This kapet is very thick and sticky. To create an incense for burning over charcoal, put some of the kapet into a small bowl, and add enough benzoin powder (or equal parts benzoin and cinnamon) to make a sticky dough. Roll out small balls, and let them dry in a cool, dark area. When they're dry they can be crushed and burned on incense charcoal.

The scent is deep, spiced, and earthy - but also sweet and fruity. It does smoke a bit, but not horribly so. I sometimes play with this base recipe a bit, and it's pretty easy to experiment with a few different mixes. Rather than putting the whole bottle of wine into one jar, use a few jars and divide the other ingredients among each jar equally. To the different jars you can play with other herbs and spices, such as mint, anise, cardamon, rose or cedar. Hathor is particularly fond of the addition of anise, cardamon, and lots of rose (and slightly more heavy on the cinnamon and myrrh).

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