That which lead me to enter the world of pipe smoking was a curiosity surrounding this ancient way of enjoying tobacco, one which was completely foreign to me. I now call myself a pipe smoker, and in doing so, feel an undeniable sense of pride in my membership to a select fraternity, comprised of those who continue to enjoy in this personal, unique, and undoubtedly historic rituals.

Packing and lighting a pipe is a ritual in and of itself. The methodical process of carefully filling the pipe to the brim and gently tamping it down before testing the draw, then repeating this process three or four times until my pipe is properly filled, slows down my clock immensely. By the time I have reached the step of lighting my pipe, I can already feel myself slipping into a relaxed and almost meditative frame of mind. The lighting process reminds me of a cigar: the pre-light is akin to the gentle toasting of the foot, preparing the tobacco to be lit evenly and properly. Watching the flame dance with every puff, whilst rich plumes of aromatic smoke erupt from the bowl and simultaneously bathe the palate and fill the room with an undeniably decadent aroma…nothing is more exciting and satisfying. 

Pipe smoking is all about cadence, even more so I have found than cigar smoking. Smoking a pipe has taught me to control the timing of my breathing, allowing me to engage in a slow, steady, unwavering rhythm in ensuring that my pipe does not overheat; the effects, however, go beyond this. The relaxation which comes with such a methodical approach to simultaneously breathing and drawing on the pipe is, much like lighting and packing, intensely meditative, and catalyses relaxation and calm, interrupted only by the need to, every so often, tamp down the delicate layer of ash accumulating in the bowl. The latter almost presents as a brief reprise form this deep relaxation, albeit for a brief moment or two, before one commences puffing on their pipe, and the process begins from the start…

And when the final embers have died down and only ash remains, comes a part which I initially was not a huge fan of to say the least! Having been used to simply leaving my cigar nub in the ashtray and moving on, sitting and cleaning my pipe for ten minutes after a bowl was something which I dreaded during my first handful of smokes. However, this process taught me why pipe smokers feel so strongly about their beloved briars: they become lifelong companions, which the smoker cares for meticulously, and which in return they can turn to in times of joy, hardship, celebration, stress or sadness for decades to come. There is something quite romantic about it, and in turn, I too came to understand and love this part of the pipe smoking ritual. 

Outside of the experience of smoking itself, I have found the pipe smoking community to be one of the warmest and most welcoming out there; given the passion and love for pipe smoking demonstrated on this blog, I know that to be a fact. 

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