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Lilies, symbolizing humility and devotion. So many colors, such a fresh scent. One of the most powerful flowers used in perfumes. In fact, besides the rose, not many flowers have had such a deep rich meaning in history.
My family and I had taken a trip to Europe last summer and walked past a flower cart in Amsterdam. The smell of lilies was pungent. My daughter stated how pretty they made the street smell. People stopped to just inhale the scent. It was an idyllic moment for many on the street that day.
Not me. I immediately because nauseous. My head started to spin. The huge lighthearted smile I had just a few minutes prior, was gone. I started thinking of the elders. I tried to stop the mental brain spin.
Would my parents be proud that I took our kids to Europe? If they were alive would they be with us? If they had survived would I even be here right now? What is the meaning of this life? Will my children grow up weird without grandparents?
Three hours. 180 minutes of my life that I will never get back. That's how long it took me to get out of my lily funk.
See when I smell lilies, my brain goes to Powell Funeral Home in Amityville, NY. Where within 4 years of each other, I buried my parents. Both too early, both for reasons that still don't make sense to me.
Every time I smell lilies, I am transported back to that large room on the right side where I stood on the side of the exact same coffin for both and hugged and kissed people and thanked them for my loss.
I see the same face on my brother each time. I see the guest book, the same family members sitting on the exact same couch, whispering in the exact same tone they did 4 years earlier. On every flat surface is a lily, given to us as a symbol that our parents had gone to better places.
So on the streets of Amsterdam that day, I get brought back to 9 years ago and then to 15 years ago in a matter of milliseconds. The worst days of my life, during one of the most memorable parts of my life at the moment. As those minutes went by I was eventually able to let go and enjoy my time with my family in the here and now.
That my friends is why scent is important. As an Aromatherapist I take scent very seriously. Scent can make you remember your favorite and most memorable or as in the case above some of the worst times of your life. The most interesting part is that is all variable depending on the person. The sense of smell goes through so many of your other senses making it's power undeniable.
When I blend for a client, one of the first questions I ask them is what scent can't you stand. Not what do you like, but what do you dislike? By having this information, I can make a blend that the client will actually use and have it be beneficial for them.
Take the lemon. When I think of lemon I think of our little lemonades stands as children with my best friends and everything was so innocent and pure. It makes me smile and gives me energy.
In a consult a few months ago, I asked the client, how do you feel about citrus? The client went mentally away for a second and looked me straight in the eye. She stated that she hated lemon. She said it such a fierce way that I wrote in my notes NO CITRUS. I didn't ask why, and she didn't open up to it, we just moved on. That is the power of scent.
Essential oils have so many chemical components. Each of these components can usually be found in other oils. I know to just go into a different direction. That way they can make a new memory perhaps, that the product they use from Faeve will remind them of healing and softness and calmness.
I ended up using a cinnamon deep blend of this client. I had to use less oils than I normally would because of the potency of the cinnamon oils. However, the client loved it and felt better. She stated she looked forward to putting it on because it somehow reminded her of her daughter. Again, no questions asked.
The secret importance of scent. It's not just a single process, it affects our whole body system. It can be so powerful that we can't even control it. You could give me a lily scented lotion guaranteed to bring me back to my 15 year old body and I would say no. That's how strong my dislike of lilies is.
I now carry an inhaler with just May Chang in it. It's a beautiful essential oil that I didn't know about until I started my in depth studies. It reminds me of school and why I wanted to do this. It gives me my personal power back. Transports me back to now.
My grandfather, who also departed this plane, used to smoke Macanudo cigars. Once in a blue moon I smell one on the street and smile. It makes me remember all the great conversations we had an how his impact has positively benefited me over all these years. One friend asked if I could find a way of making a biscotti smell from essential oils because it reminded her of her grandma.
I think of ways to synergize oils like that when I get to go on the ocean and smell the salt. The ocean where I spent my childhood with my parents where they told me how much they loved me and always how proud of me they were. It's probably the only place where there could be a lily that wouldn't bother me. The smell of the sea...
What scents bring you the most joy? And which ones do you stay away from?
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Juniper and juniper berries were one of the first plants I ever worked with as an herbalist. Juniper essential oil is also a great part of the plant to work with, and I’ve used it in many of my blends.
A lot of people may think of gin when they think of juniper, but the berries from this tree also has a deep-rooted history as far back as the Roman Empire (and probably even further back than that). They are also used in cooking, medicine, and in some cases, flavoring.
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