For a 32-year-old, my memory is monstrous. My wondrous hubby re-explains and cues me numerous times a day. And he generally, with forbearance, re-listens to my inane narratives of growing up etc. without much objection.
However, if I catch a sniff of the exact proportion of Old English, moth balls, day-old bacon grease, banana bread, and aging nogahide, I am carried to Mama Jewel and Papa’s house. When I bring-up an example like this, most people will argue, ‘oh yeah, all grandparent homes smell like that.’ One nearly universal case of this is the clear-cut ‘Grandmother Bathroom odour,’ which fuses the more ‘practical’ smells with lavender, and the entire line of AVON products! But other that, I can make the argument for being able to tell from a particle or two, which grandparent’s dwelling, and I’ll likely recall some memories to boot. I bet you can too – it’s amazing.
If you can learn to manipulate the fragrances you engulf yourself with, you can recollect and reminisce (maybe take on something fresh?), from countless events in your life – EVEN if your memory is risky like mine.
When I walk through my neighborhood and smell the fresh-cut grass and orange blossoms, I laugh, remembering laying spread-eagle in the grassy middle of the University quad, mid-day, having drained too many pitchers of margheritas with my cohort. Similarly, Nag-Champa incense will always remind me of the little 1950s bungalow I shared with my little sister; and the time we had a house party and sprinkled a trail of glitter from the street, through the house, and out the back – there’s probably still glitter in that carpet.
I also don’t know a damn thing about cars, but I’ll happily hang-out in a mechanic’s garage because in my memory, motor oil and break fluid take me back to being fifteen years old, and learning how to ‘three-foot clutch,’ so my boyfriend’s ’69 Mustang wouldn’t die. But perhaps the most powerful of these is the sweet smell that somehow originates from the top of my sweet little preschooler’s head, and can draw-up countless moments from her birth onward. What IS that smell?? It’s like Valium!
So in this brief article, I am centering on the control that scents have to call forth a person’s memories, but in future articles I will add to this, and delve into using scents to: conjure different emotions, direct meditations in a forward motion, share aromatheraputic time with a therapist, guided groups, or others, etc.
So as you turn to your local herbal store or website, don’t be intimated if you don’t know the names of the herbs in incense blends, or if you’re scared you won’t like the ways they smell and taste. Let your memories guide you first. Does something remind you of your grandfather’s pipe tobacco? Does the smell of burning one stick of incense seem to cleanse the room and make you feel ‘bright,’ or does another aroma draw you back into a soft cushion to contemplate the cosmos?
That’s fantastic! Once you start drawing herbs, herbal incenses, essential oils, and other components of the natural, organic world into your life, you may find that these positive, olfactory connections can aid you in ways you’d never anticipate.
So if you are naive to the ‘undeveloped powers of fragrances,’ welcome!
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