With the increasing interest in the natural arts and sciences, many have found a keen attraction to the workings of fragrance. There have been untold volumes published on the healing applications of scent, yet the magickal applications have been less celebrated. This is unfortunate, for two reasons. First, the magickal applications of aromatherapy—existing since before recorded history in the sacred rites of our ancestors, who burned herbs and essences to their deities—in many ways may have been the foundation of the rich healing practices of the modern-day aromatherapist. We can only expand our understanding of the art if we remember its roots. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, is the fact that the magickal practice of aromatherapy is inseparable from the therapeutic. The treatment of mind and spirit is a key concern of magickal endeavor. In treating many ailments, the healer has discovered that the mind and spirit of the client colors the effectiveness of a given remedy.
Although there may be those who look at the magickal applications of the fragrance arts as just so much superstition, as the old wives’ tales of an ignorant world, it should be remembered that the folk remedies of our ancestors do indeed have substance. If we are truly a generation of wisdom and insight, we should not be too quick to dismiss the old magick. The lore that has been handed down from ancient days is but a piece of knowledge that was at one time necessary for “old wives” to know.
There is no shortage of available material on the art and science of aromatherapy. While some involved in working with fragrances fancy themselves artists—with a kinship to the perfumer of old, with a touch of elegance—others align themselves more closely with the medical practitioners and the scientific community. In order to fully explore the incredible world of scent, it is necessary to abandon classifications and to become open to the world of knowledge before us in whatever guise it may present itself.
The approach I have taken in dealing with this subject matter is one of open exploration and adventurous, uninhibited experimentation. By no means have I taken the mindset of the purist—and I invite you to follow my example. I take my lessons where I may, plunge deeply into the scented gifts of nature, and augment this world of wonder with the innovations created by the human mind.
Some will steer clear of anything “unnatural” in the practice of aromatherapy. Yet there appears to be an entire world of possibility abandoned with this approach. And if there is some level of justification required by the purist to ease the sense of betraying the natural order as I pursue the effects of synthetic aromas as well as those that occur in nature, consider the age-old use of a remedy like white willow bark as the predecessor to the common aspirin. What volume of white willow bark would be required to accomplish the same symptomatic relief as one tiny aspirin? And to further champion the use of natural as well as synthetic scents, cannot all substances find their beginnings in nature?
If the human mind can develop a way to enhance the effectiveness of nature’s gifts, then I will not ignore the possibilities. For human thought is a creation of the natural order as well. To deny the pursuit of knowledge might be considered as much a betrayal of nature as our straying from the confines of aromas that are derived strictly from raw materials in their natural state. For in aromatherapy, we do not attempt to mutilate the gifts of nature, but rather to appreciate and utilize them to their fullest capacity.