How Often Should Taoist Burn Incense

Burning incense is a quintessential Taoist practice, transcending sects and lineages. In our lineage, this daily ritual can range from a simple offering to an intricate magical process involving spells and symbols.

Let’s delve into the mechanics and principles of burning incense in Taoism.

The Transformation of Incense

Incense undergoes a transformation when burned. The physical form is consumed by fire, and in its place, smoke carrying aroma and color rises. This smoke, imbued with energy, is absorbed by the surroundings. Notice how areas with regular incense burning often develop a distinct coloration and fragrance.

This transformation illustrates a fundamental principle: the physical form contains non-physical elements, and upon destruction, these elements are released and absorbed by another entity.

Your intentions, thoughts, and energies, all non-physical, are infused into the incense. As it burns, these energies are released and absorbed by the altar, statues, and the higher powers to which your altar is connected.

In essence, incense serves as a conduit for delivering non-physical energies.

Daily Incense Offering: Nourishing the Tao

Taoists should burn incense at their altar daily. This practice is akin to investing your time and energy into the altar and the Tao. By consistently giving energy, you add “weight” to the Tao, prompting it to reciprocate over time. This is similar to the water cycle, where evaporation leads to cloud formation and eventually rain.

water cycle

In addition to incense (fire element), Taoists also offer water, tea, or liquor (water element). While incense sends energy to the preheaven, liquids attract energy to the postheaven. Liquids absorb ambient energy, which is then absorbed by the physical world.

This cycle of giving and receiving is foundational to Tao and Te cultivation. Without incense, there is no pressure exerted on the preheaven, and without water, there is nothing to contain the energy that is released.

The Proper Way to Burn Incense

Burning incense demands focus and respect. It is essential to be undistracted and fully present in the moment. Refrain from talking or engaging in other activities while handling incense.

The manner in which you hold the incense affects the energy infused into it. Generally, holding the incense with your left hand using the thumb and index finger, and encircling it with your right hand, is known as the Munn 文 style. This is used for inputting thoughts and messages.

Conversely, swapping the hands is known as the Mo 武 method, used for inputting commands or requesting output of power.

The incense used at the altar is consecrated, meaning it is connected to a higher power, making it more than ordinary incense.

Quantity Matters

The number of incense sticks burned is symbolic and varies depending on the purpose. For example, one incense stick represents a one-way connection, while two can symbolize attraction or absorption. Three incense sticks often signify the beginning of an interaction or the initiation of a process.

Regular communication with the higher powers through incense strengthens the bond, much like frequent conversation nurtures human relationships.

A Word of Caution

It is imperative that the altar is properly connected to the preheaven. Burning incense at a DIY altar that lacks a genuine connection can attract spiritual entities seeking to consume the energy you offer. These entities can masquerade as deities but are, in fact, energy looters.

If you find yourself in such a predicament, we urge you to contact us for assistance. We recommend ordination into our lineage to learn the authentic practices of hosting an altar and burning incense for positive outcomes.



Burning incense at the altar is a sacred Taoist practice that serves as a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. It is a means of communication, offering, and connection. The act of burning incense is steeped in symbolism and intention, and understanding the underlying principles is key to harnessing its full potential.

For those seeking to deepen their connection with the Tao and cultivate a harmonious exchange of energies, proper incense burning is an indispensable practice.

Engage in this spiritual journey with reverence and mindfulness, and let the fragrant smoke of incense carry your intentions to the higher realms.

We encourage you to consider ordination into our lineage to learn more about authentic Taoist practices and the art of incense burning.