(Shop)Dragon's Blood Resin comes from the collected and dried sap of many plant genera. Usually it is harvested from a type of spiny, climbing palm, "Daemonorops draco." Daemonorops translates to "demon shrub" most likely due to its prickly spikes.
There are several other palms used to extract Dragon's Blood resin such as Dracaena cinnibari (Somalia) Dracaena draco (Canary Islands) and Croton draco (Mexico). In Mexico, Dragon's Blood resin is sometimes called Sangre de Drago (blood of the dragon). It can also be harvested from Calamus rotang and Pterocarpus.
The Draeaena draco of the Canary Islands was written of by 15th century voyagers who observed that beautiful blood-red drops of the resin were secreted when the palm was wounded.
These palms grow in many other places of the world including: Australia, the Pacific Islands, south east Asia, the islands of Malay Archipelago, etc. Most commercial Dragon's Blood resin is from Malaysia and Indonesia. The type we get here at PaganPath for incense, soap, lib balm and magickal creations comes in "balls" about the size of a baseball. They appear to be the sap gathered up in cloth and sqeezed and dried. They are stamped with a gold, five pointed star as seen to the right below.
Perhaps you have been very close to the stems of a climbing palm without realizing it. Rattan, a type of bent palm stem furniture, it is made from palms of the Daemonorops and Calamus genera. The slender, climbing stems of the rattan palms are pulled down from the trees they lean against for support, stripped of spines and coiled for storage.
Uses, Old & New
The prickly spines of the Dragon's Blood Palm echo the magickal uses of the resin. The spines protect the plant from herbivores, and protection is one of the most popular uses for Dragon's Blood resin. Specifically, Dragon's Blood offers excellent protection from psychic predators. The spines may also help camouflage insects which pollinate the palms, again a form of reproductive protection for the plant and survival protection for the insects.
The dark, blood-red resin of the Daemonorops palm is secreted from the scaly fruit. As this layer of resin oxidizes, it becomes brittle. The resin is harvested during the summer from both the fruit and stems. The fruits of the Daemonorops are picked and stored in bags, then beaten to loosen the resin. The powdered resin is then sifted and warmed to form lumps like the one pictured above with the gold stamp. The stems of Dracaena and Croton also yield the resin which is harvested by making incisions and collecting the secretions much like opium harvesting.
Dragon's Blood resin has a long history of use as an astringent wash for wounds in Europe, Mexico, Asia and many other areas. Early Greeks and Romans utilized the resin for medicinal purposes, often to stop bleeding, and Dioscorides wrote of its many uses.
The resin was also used by 18th century Italian violin makers as a varnish. It is still used as a protective under coating in photoengraving and in some restoration varnishes. For these types of manufacturing uses, the resin is often marketed as oleoresin.
Dragon's Blood resin is also used in the sacred calligraphy of China and Japan. This type of ancient art is called Sumi-e, and the red ink, often from Dragon's Blood, is ground on a piece of stone (suzuri stone). The powder is then mixed with water and used as a type of "ink pad" for the signature stamp (called an Hanko or Chop). Sumi-e has been practiced in Asia for thousands of years.
Modern magickal uses for pre-mixed Dragon's Blood ink are usually for protection, strength and extra energy or power added to a working.
Dragon's Blood resin sold in most occult store may vary widely in its origin, and therefore in the fragrance it emits when burned as an incense resin. Some Eucalyptus species are even used to produce a type of "Dragon's Blood" resin and usually merchants do not know the origins of the resin they carry. Some resins may smell like rubber or plastic when burned, others may emit a subtle myrrh like scent.
Red Rock Opium?
Please Note: A few unscrupulous individuals have been selling dragon's blood resin to naive experimenters as "red rock opium" for about 100 times the standard retail price. Repeated random chemical analysis by numerous laboratories, shows that Dragon's Blood resin is not pharmacologically active and contains no opiates.
Any reported psychoactive or narcotic effects from smoking Dragon's Blood resin may be attributable to the placebo effect or the influence of suggestion, or even to partial asphyxiation from smoke inhalation. This effect is not to be negated, the placebo effect can be very powerful. However, to clarify, the effects of "red rock opium" are not a direct result of the use of the Dragon's Blood, they are the results of the power of suggestion.
If you have purchased "red rock opium" on the street, please stop, it is only Dragon's Blood resin.
Incense & Oils
Dragon's Blood oils and incense are usually the result of a small amount of the resin (if any is used at all) along with spicy and woodsy fragrance oils or essential oils. Artificial red coloring is usually added to these.
Dragon's blood is not normally steam distilled to make a true natural essential oil, and its fragrance does not warrant this use. Instead, you can grind dragon's blood resin until very fine and powdery, and dissolve it into other oils. A little heat will speed this process, and a coffee filter will remove the impurities or dark specs of undissolved plant matter.
If you like the effects and fragrance of dragon's blood oil or incense, the oil technique above can be used to add oomph to store-bought blends that may not contain the resin. These blends may have excellent properties in their own right, but adding a bit of the natural material to the bottle will really boost the energy.
Incense that is sold as "dragon's blood" rarely contains the resin, particularly when purchased in stick form with the bamboo stick core. There are some excellent fragrances sold as dragon's blood, and their properties are almost identical. However, if you place these sticks in a plastic bag and sprinkle some powdered true dragon's blood resin over them and shake, you'll find their power is increased dramatically.
As mentioned above, the scent of burning dragon's blood varies due to the type of plant from which it was harvested, along with the type and quantity of impurities it may contain. It is not necessarily a good smell when burned, so adding the dust to your incense sticks or oil blends is a great way to get the energy without the unpleasant tar like odor. In oils, this will also increase their astringent and medicinal properties.
Although it may be possible to grow one of the Dragon's Blood palms indoors, their size, spines and rarity as houseplants can be major obstacles. Also, extracting the resin from a house plant is not practical. However, there are a few sources for unusual indoor plants and palms. If you are interested in growing one, try a Google search for the plants listed at the beginning of this article.
Magickal & Spiritual Uses
Modern magickal practitioners use the resin for various purposes. It is said to increases the potency of magickal workings, aid in returning lost love, and has powerful protection properties as mentioned above. It is used to cleanse an area of negativity and for energizing psychically, magickally and spiritually. It is also said to enhance health, virility and to cure impotency. A very good use of the resin is to add it to incense mixtures or 'mojo bags' to enhance their energy and aid in blending the other ingredients.
As noted in the Incense & Oils section above, Dragon's Blood "oils" are often available, these are normally sweet and spicy fragrance oils which do not contain actual Dragon's Blood resin but are instead formulated to have similar properties as Dragon's Blood.
High quality Dragon's Blood from Asia, especially China, is usually formed into semi-teardrop shaped balls and emboss-stamped with a gold, five pointed star as pictured above. The easiest way to use these large pieces is to break or shatter them into smaller pieces. You can do this with a very large pestle and mortar, or more simply use a hammer. Place the ball of resin in a heavy plastic bag, and place that bag within another heavy bag. Lay the wrapped resin on a hard surface and firmly but gently tap it with a hammer until you've broken it up into workable pieces.
These pieces can then be further ground into powder using a pestle and mortar or an electric coffee grinder (not one you'll use for coffee or other food items again). You can also keep using the hammer to crush the whole lot into powder if you desire.
Normally, very small pieces or fine powder are burned on charcoal, or on mica over charcoal. Start with a very small amount, about the size of a lentil (half a dried pea). Allow this amount to finish smoking before adding more.
Through experimentation, I've found that Dragon's Blood blends well with cloves, white copal and mastic. Here are a few of my "secret" recipes you might find helpful:
Purification & Cleansing:
2 parts white copal (copal blanco)
2 parts gum mastic
1 part dragon's blood resin
Energy, Power & Sensuality:
1 part ground cloves (or clove bud essential oil, used sparingly such as a drop or two per quarter cup batch)
1 part dragon's blood
3 parts sandalwood powder
1 part fragrant amber (the perfume resin, not the stone like resinite)
For pictures and more information about the amber referred to in this recipe, see the article A Guide to Amber & Jet: Fragrant resins, mineraloids, fossils, copal amber, ambergris and more confusing delights.
How to Obtain Dragon's Blood Resin:
Dragon's Blood resin is available at reasonable prices in The PaganPath Shop, some magickal supply shops, and occasionally etsy and ebay. The PaganPath Shop also carries hand-made Dragon's Blood incense, Dragon's Blood magickal oil blend, and the pure resin.
*Required Disclaimer: Statements have not been approved or reviewed by the FDA. Historical and traditional information is provided for your personal enjoyment and education, and is not to be used in the place of competent medical care. See also the Site Cautions & Disclaimer