Fragrance and natural perfumery is something that I’ve been studying quite a lot of lately.
My interest in fragrance first arose when I began to learn about the dangers of synthetic fragrances in skincare and personal care products. Did you know that the majority of allergic and irritant respiratory and skin reactions can be traced back to synthetic fragrances? My firsthand experience with this having constant head colds when working at a department store cosmetics counter right next to the perfume counters. I later developed a strong aversion to perfumes during my pregnancies, and years later, I still get headaches and feel nauseous around them. Crazy. So when I began my aesthetics practice and making my own products?I only chose products and formulations that used herbs and essential oils as the fragrance ingredients. There are natural fragrance oils and extracts available, but most are still comprised of?chemical and synthetic fragrance and fixative ingredients.
As I continued learning more about essential oils and herbalism, I learned how the scent of the ingredients plays almost as significant a role in their associated healing experiences as their chemical constituents.
My most current study is of natural perfumery, and how rich its history is throughout history.
We all know how powerful fragrance is–it has the ability to transport us back in time through memory triggers. It also has the ability to cleanse and purify our space, and in many cases, is used to transport us from the physical world more easily into the spiritual. Burning incense or diffusing essential oils is one simple way to facilitate meditation–especially for beginners–and also has been used to connect with the Divine in nearly every culture such as the?ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Hebrews, Greeks, Indians, Romans, Native Americans, Celts, and more. Today, it’s still used in different spiritual practices ranging from Catholic masses and sacraments to Pagan circles.
How aromatic essential oils, resins, and herbs differ from other ingredients known to benefit the skin and hair throughout history (such as carrier oils and milk), is that they’re known not only for their physical and emotional therapeutic benefits, but also have widely documented metaphysical and spiritual benefits. In literature and polytheistic mythologies, Gods and Goddesses were often described not only for their physical appearances and what power they possessed, but also by their aromas. From Homer’s?The Iliad, when Venus visits Achilles:
Celestial Venus hovered o’er his head, and roseate unguents heavenly fragrance shed!”
I began working with natural perfumes during my own spiritual practice by using them as anointing oils for candles and gemstones, as well as to wear during ritual. I then began creating my own blends, based on metaphysical properties and spiritual correspondences, geared towards certain intentions–for an emotional need like comfort and nurture, for personal growth, or for manifestation. I started without knowledge of the art of perfume composition, and just blended my oils with knowledge gained from my metaphysical and spiritual books and relied heavily in intuition and guidance during a meditation or ritual.
I?quickly realized how much I loved these perfumes, and how much I felt they added to my spiritual experience–however the fragrances faded quickly due to the fact that they didn’t contain any synthetic fixatives (which all synthetic and many natural perfumes and fragrance oils contain), or adequate base notes, which are essential oils and resins with naturally fixative, longer lasting qualities. I then began studying natural perfumery as an art–and I continue to study it because like other forms of herbalism, I believe it is an art that takes several lifetimes to master. My perfume blends now have more actual design and composition to them, yet the oils I choose are still based on metaphysical properties and intuition.
I enjoyed working with my perfume blends so much, that I realized I wanted to have them with me all the time–so I decided to take what I’m learning about natural perfumery and apply it to my daily skincare rituals. Intuitive guidance is something I pray for and express gratitude for every day, and to me it seems very logical to use the power of spiritual perfumery as a portal to facilitate Divine intuition. Now I choose essential oils for my products based on what I want them to do for my skin physically, as well as whatever intention I’m working on at that moment whether it’s a seasonal goal, or a goal related to a project or personal growth. I might make a lotion or cream with one blend, and then have smaller ones ready to add to a daily face or body oil for different intentions.
It’s important to note that only herbs and pure, plant-derived essential oils?and?resins should be used for spiritual perfumery.
Though synthetics might still trigger certain memories, they don’t have the ability to facilitate spiritual experiences in the same way as natural ones do, because unlike herbs and aromatic essences from nature, they don’t contain the life force that runs through and connects all of us to each other, to nature, and to the Universe.
I leave you with a Divine intervention I recently experienced as a result of spiritual perfumery.
My family is going through a very tough time. In the past year, we’ve endured three deaths in the family, of people with whom we were very close. There are also other significant changes going on in our lives, and a few days I found myself feeling sad and emotionally exhausted. I really wanted to feel soothed, and at peace. I made a perfume, and named it Mere de la Paix–Mother of Peace. I applied it and meditated, and felt much better. Shortly after, I happened to be browsing the Internet, and saw that Pope Francis made the decision to elevate Mother Teresa to sainthood. I don’t identify as Catholic, but I like Pope Francis and always saw the face of the Goddess in Mother Teresa so I clicked on an article. The moment I saw her face, I was completely overcome by emotion. I felt the same tingling on my head that I feel when I know my angels and spirit guides are near, and just began crying–not tears of sadness, but tears of release and relief. I don’t know any other way to describe it other than a miracle, or a Divine intervention—-and I don’t think I would have had it had I not created the perfume. I’ve been wearing it and using it in my facial oil since, and I’ve been much more at peace than I’ve been in weeks. And for that I am very grateful.