Ode to Istanbul: chapter 5.28.2017_Ritual: Frankincense.

Istanbul, as of late, has been a celebration of ritual cleansing. A rite of (another) passage. Accepting the challenge with grace is the challenge that I hunger for. Always.

Omani Frankincense, certainly an influential element to my existence, is firmly rooted in my ritual. How to explain?

This chapter commences in Bahrain, at the souk, Bab al- Bahrain. My incense guy, Basim, always greets with a smile. I give into his wisdom. One day he chastised me for wanting to purchase his roung charcoal coils. Afficionados prefer the smokeless, odorless squares. How was I to know? From then on, I deferred to his authority on all incense-related  matters. Many times I left his stall, gleeful to inherently understand I was well taken care of.

Basim & I at his shop in Bab al Bahrain

Many advantages come with having your own 'incense guy' in the souk. On a particularly generous day, Basim gave me one of his charcoal holders- these long, elegant tweezers. The ritual of lighting the charcoal squares heightened ever so intensely, feeling closer to patterned behavior more steeped in ancient knowledge than ever.

On other days, he showed me various 'brews' he was amassing. Many glass vials of fermenting oils, herbs, resins. Cauldrons of bubbling Bakhoor (traditional, homemade incense) in which he would scoop out a sample for me. Sometimes dripping, others sticky... always intoxicating. Breathe.

We had a great first encounter, Basim and me. Light conversation turned into local archaeology. he showed me a picture of his father from long ago, in the company of a Danish archaeologist that was working on island. This picture happened to be the grandfather (*not exactly sure now) of a Danish archaeologist in Bahrain that I had recently met, who is continuing their work. Connection made. Magic ensues. All. The. Time.

Frankincense. Myrrh. Sandalwood. Balms. Ouds. Bakhoor: ecstasy, exactly.

      absence of words
      framework-free no structure to wrap a familiar, atrophied concept around,       To tame 'it'. No words to hid behind. Bare naked breath. A non-lexical Show and Tell.
Non-sensical; the point being...

      shackeless. free to explore. cliffdiving for pearls of wisdom.
         close encounters with the oyster colony. luminescent. enchanting.   intoxication. rhapsody


Dichotomy as clear as the lunarscape; cloaked luminosity, mysterious, crystal-clear blur


inhale kindling of desire
exhale smouldering passions of lunar-wisdom
too cumbersome to contain, at times
stormy horizon; the cosmic ebb and flow. Agitated. Foamy.
Cresting breaks; washes over. The fine mist sprays my face. Ritual.
Cleansing warmth
seeking out distant horizons, attracting the Green Flash
watch. listen. breathe.
Where these coordinates dwell, we seek. always. all ways.
those first signs
gather the kindling

It gives me great pleasure to share this Frankincense Ritual as I depart Istanbul. I leave a trail of Frankincense, and what teachings I have been given to those who also indulge and seek the wisdom it offers.