Although the practice of aromatherapy has grown in popularity and usage over the past several decades, its effectiveness nd its subtle workings have never required the attention of humankind. Whether we like it or not, or even choose to believe it or not, we are all subject to the effects created by our surroundings. We respond in different ways to color, to temperature, to the many sounds that fill our world—and we are no less affected by the smells we encounter each day.
When we inhale the fresh aroma of newly baked bread, the thought of tasting the hot loaves flows naturally through our minds. We need not even be hungry for the aroma to exercise its magick on us. The sweet scent of a field of flowers may fill us with peaceful, dreamy feelings—as well as evoke memories or fantasies from days gone by. As we journey through our everyday lives, we cannot be unaffected by the sensual stimuli of the scents we meet on our way.
The most obvious and sensually stirring scents are those that are unusual. Perhaps from our city dwelling we go to visit a rural area and are taken by the smell of the newly mown hay or assaulted by the gamey, piercing odor of the pig barn. In a strange setting, every smell seems to linger a bit longer in our nostrils. We breathe in deeply, fascinated by the aromas that surround us in this alien world. Every scent, the foul as well as the pleasant, holds a fascination for us, stimulating and exciting every fiber of our sensual perception.
Yet we are more often in the company of the familiar environment of our everyday existences. After experiencing the stimulating effect of the aromas that are new to us, it is inconceivable that we are not equally affected by the smells that permeate our own world. And, in fact, we are. Our constant exposure to the scents of our everyday lives, however, force their effect onto a subconscious levei. If we were to stop and analyze each of the scents that we pass in our everyday existence, we might set out on a simple journey, perhaps to the corner store, and become hopelessly lost in a sea of sensual wonder. So we learn to place the stimuli of our everyday lives into subconscious acknowledgment so that we can get on with our daily tasks.
Consider, for example, the classic scene of the elderly soul who adores cats. It seems that almost everyone with whom I’ve ever spoken has had contact with such a figure in their own experience. Caring, compassionate, and appreciative of their company, the cat lover’s animals are well tended and continue to multiply. It is difficult to have a large number of these creatures in an enclosed area without developing a distinctive odor in the house, yet the custodian of the animals seems oblivious to the assault of the pungent odor on the senses.
Herein lies the grand secret behind the workings of aromatherapy. We are, indeed, affected by the scents of the world around us. The aim of the aromatherapist is to capture the effects of these scents—both conscious and unconscious— and to blend them together in such a way that their effect is directed to a specific purpose. Within the pages of this book are many blends, both magickal and therapeutic, that have been designed to evoke given responses, remedying specific ailments or life situations. In the hands of the competent aromatherapist, the workings of nature—often subtle in their thrust—become the gifts of nature. In their highest applications, these gifts are for the benefit, the well-being, and the betterment of all of humankind.
Whether we utilize the art and science of aromatherapy for physical and mental wellness—as in its expression as a healing art—or to enhance our spirits and better the conditions of our lives as we undertake its magickal applications, we are beginning a journey of both knowledge and wonder. And to take the first steps, we need only follow our noses.