If you’re anything like me, over time you have accumulated a mixed collection of herbs, oils and incenses. What do you do with it all? Stuff everything into a shoebox, still in their original packages? Or display it on an altar?
Whatever your storage method, you might want to think about what is best for the items, rather than what is best for you. Herbs can go stale, oils can go rancid and incense turn bland and dusty, if left in the wrong conditions for any length of time.
If you are using fresh herbs for tea or ritual, then you should be using them up as quickly as possible. But dried herbs are a more common magickal item. The biggest problem facing dried herbs is exposure to air. Herbs will lose their aroma, texture and potency if left in the open air for even short periods of time (yes, even the dried ones). You shouldn’t leave your herbs in those little plastic bags from the herb store. They are prone to leaking, and your herbs will go stale and musty before you get them used up. The best way to store your dried herbs is in jars with tight lids, and preferably stored in a spot away from the sunlight.
All oils, whether they are plain essential oils or custom ritual blends, should be kept out of any direct light. Good quality oils are usually sold in amber or cobalt blue bottles which are perfect to keep the oil at its best. Oils in these bottles can even be stored out on your altar, though I would keep them out of bright sunlight if you can. Any oils that are in plain clear bottles should be either transfered to the darker bottles, or kept in a box, cupboard or drawer.
I used to store my incense sticks in the long bags I bought them in, all bundled together in a big box. Well, I ended up with a whole bunch of incense sticks that smelled the same. Even with the plastic bags, the scents mingled up until every stick had a pleasant but definitely vague aroma. I have since purchased tall plastic containers designed for holding spaghetti. These work great, but it’s a bulky option if you have a lot of incense to store. It’s just one option.
If you don’t want to do that, stick with their bags, but don’t bundle them up too tightly together. Keep them loose and ideally apart from each other so they don’t “contaminate” each other. You want your cedar to smell like cedar, not lilac.
Overall, your altar supplies will last longer if you keep them protected and out of sight. If you like to keep your sacred space decorated with your supplies, you might want to select a few things for display only and not use them for ritual.