“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.” Diane Ackerman – A Natural History of the Senses
I love Ackerman’s description of the effect that smell has on memory, especially at this time of year.
I’ve tried to capture some of the most evocative blends of the festive season in my list of five:
- Sweet Orange and Clove Bud (citrus sinensis and syzgium aromaticum) is warming, uplifting and gently relaxing with memories of mulled wine and pomanders.
- Cinnamon and Ginger (cinnamomom zeylanicum and zingiber officinale) is stimulating and restorative and reminds us of festive baking and sweet treats.
- Pine and Cedarwood (pinus sylvestris and cedrus atlantica) is fortifying and comforting with thoughts of winter walks and frozen forests.
- Frankincense and Myrrh (boswellia thurifera and commiphora molmol) is calming and promotes inner stillness and peace. Good for spiritual or religious meditations.
- Mandarin and Black Pepper (citrus reticulata and piper nigrum) is gently warming and comforting with memories of festive gatherings and fun.
The oils should be true essential oils (not fragrance oils or synthetic oils) which is why I’ve included the Latin names. The best way to use the above blends would be to:
- Choose your blend
- Either add two drops of each oil to water and use in an oil burner or diffuser, or add a couple of drops of each oil to a teaspoon of vodka and 50ml of filtered water to be used as a room spray (shake well before use).
What are your favourite scents and smells at this time of year? What memories do the scents of the festive season bring back for you?