Scents and Rituals

Friday I was listening to a morning radio show and they were asking people a question.  If someone offered you a million dollars to give up one of your senses, which one would it be?  It seems the most popular answer was their sense of smell.  The reasons were logical.  No one wanted to be blind or deaf, losing your sense of touch could lead to very dangerous situations and losing your sense of taste?  Well, no one wanted to lose that because they liked eating to much.  They all stated they could live without their sense of smell.  That it was the least important sense. Really? Sense of smell not important?  Well, I can’t say I agree with them.

While all the senses are equally important, in my humble opinion, and each enriches our lives in there own way.  I believe that our sense of smell effects us more then most people realize.

What does this have to do with home practice, rituals or spiritual workings you ask? Okay, let’s do some visualization.  Close your eyes and imagine a bright sunny summer day.  What do you see?  What are you feeling? What are you smelling?  Smelling you ask? Yes, what scent makes you think of summer? Is it fresh cut grass? A barbeque?  Water at the lake?  How about picturing Yule.  What scent reminds you Yule?  Scents are good for triggering memories and emotions.

When you are creating a ritual, you think about the offerings, what you’re going to say, maybe even certain dance, music, extras like that.  Unfortunately a lot of time the scents used during a ritual is not taking into consideration.  In a ritual you are trying to create an atmosphere, a certain feel to what you are doing or experiencing.  If you use the right scent, the experience will be outstanding or at the least good.  But the wrong scent?  It can ruin what you are doing.  No matter how much thought and preparation used, if you use a scent you don’t like it will throw off everything.  When you use a smell you really don’t like you are not going to be concentrating on what you want to accomplish, no, you are going to be thinking about that horrible smell.

Now, there are many ways to add scents to your rituals, meditations or whatever you are working on at the moment.  The most popular way is through stick or cone incense.  In my opinion they are okay, I am not as happy with them as I used to because of the chemicals used in them or animal byproduct.  But just recently I have discovered some stick incense made that are organic and do not have animal byproduct in it.  You can also make your own; this is an adventure in itself.  Another popular method is burning herbs on a charcoal or throwing them into a fire.  And last but not least is using a simmering pot and essential oils.

What ever method you decide to try, just remember, use the scents you like, the ones that help you feel more connected to what you are doing.  Adding scents to your practice will add a whole new depth to your practice.  Be creative, be adventurous.  You will be glad you did.

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