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Friday, December 9, 2011

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

We’ve all seen those late night t.v. ads for, “Bring your old gold jewelry to sell - prices are the best in history.” The last I looked, gold was selling for $1724 per (Troy) ounce. I don’t really know what an ounce of gold looks like, but I know it’s a lot of money for not much to hold in your hand. Most everyone knows the story in the Bible of how the three wise men brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We know what gold is, but few people know what the frankincense and myrrh are.

Frankincense tears.

Frankincense is from the Boswellia tree and comes from Somalia on the southern coastal area of Arabia. It was used in ancient times as an incense, for embalming and as a treatment for depression. People used it in temples, believing the smoke from the burning incense would carry their prayers Heavenward. 
Myrrh "tears" meaning, drops of resin, caught from the tree after it has a cut in the bark.

Myrrh, a brown to red aromatic tree resin comes from Commiphora abyssinica (which is in the same overall plant family as the frankincense tree). It’s a scraggly bush-tree which grows in semi-desert regions of North Africa and near the Red Sea. It is considered a wound healer because of its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used to treat wounds, bruises and bleeding as well as a treatment for swelling.

The three wise men, carrying gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Both frankincense and myrrh were burned, usually together, as incense and were deeply connected to holy places and worship. Even today in Catholic and Episcopal churches, you will find these two resins still burned as incense during special services. Back in Biblical times, these resins were extremely valuable, fully as expensive as gold. Harvested far from  Jerusalem, they were brought on the spice routes over long distances on the backs of camels. Everyday people couldn’t afford to buy them. The specific healing properties of both made them even more desirable. For a mother who had recently given birth, the two resins were even more useful and valuable.
Our Frankincense and Myrrh Incense Kit in a Keepsake box.

We use frankincense and myrrh today in much the same way as they were used in Biblical times, in medicines, incense and aromatherapy. With better growing conditions and faster and less expensive shipping methods, they are no longer equal to the price of gold. You can buy these in today’s world, for just a dollar or two per ounce.

Both frankincense and myrrh are created when multiple cuts are made into the bark of each plant. As the sap oozes out it hardens into a hard resin. The resin is collected into bags and sold. The cutting process, of not done to excess, does not kill the tree or bush and can produce resin for many years. It's a slow process on plants that grow slowly in desert climates. The resins are harvested by hand, the same way they were 2,000 years ago.
Our Frankincense and Myrrh Incense Kit in a Keepsake box.
If you would like your own Frankincense and Myrrh Kit, you can order one from my website. It's on special this month. Each kit contains a bag of Frankincense and Myrrh, a charcoal disk for burning the incense, a special tile for the charcoal, instructions, all in a keepsake wooden treasure chest. Order two for $25 or one for $12.95 plus shipping.

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