When customers walk in to our shop, most are completely in love with the scent they encounter. The combination of oil laden candles, herbs, and incense fill the shop and some have said that it creates a feeling of coming home. Why? Because each one of those people have an olfactory receptor that is picking up something that makes them feel peaceful and gives them a feeling of safety and comfort. And although the shop smells nothing like any of their homes, now or from childhood, the memory recalled is one of home, whatever that may be. And each individual may have a completely different experience and memory or feel. Why is that?
I am not going to get into an in-depth discussion on aromatherapy. I am simply going to answer a couple of questions that so many have asked me over the years. And those questions are, “Why would I buy something to burn?” “Can I get this exact smell at my house?” “What candle or incense is right for me?” I am separating the ritual reasons for burning sage and other herbs as I have already addressed that in a different article called, ”What to Burn?”. Within this bit of information I am going to focus on our candles and our incense? The herbs seem to be understood a bit more than why we burn candles for health or why we burn incense for any other reason besides trying to hide another smell?
Incense got a bad reputation, in fairly recent history, as it was known to be used to hide or cover up potentially less legal things burning. And some fragrance candles, found everywhere including dollar stores, are filled with a great deal of perfumery so that nothing else within a five mile radius can be detected but that candle. Trying to hide smells has been one reason to burn something but there are many more reasons. What are they? This is something we are asked quite often and so I will attempt to answer this question as well as a few that go hand in hand with that “burning” question.
When lightning has knocked out the power we reach for the cheap white emergency candles in that top catch-all corner drawer we all seem to have. When we burn candles and incense with natural oils in them there are usually some underlying reasons that make it a ritual of sorts. Sometimes we do it to honor another or assist the healing of ourselves or another. And sometimes the ritual is meant to simply relax. Fragrances have been used for centuries for most of these same reasons. Some of the very first fragrances to be noticed were aromatic drift wood that were gathered and given to Japanese Royal families to honor them. Most of the time these fragrances were uplifting in one capacity or another and soon not only did people discover the ability of fragrances to lift moods, it was also found to create, because of these mood elevations, prosperity, longevity, health, emotional responses such as love and so much more.
Science has explored our oldest sense extensively and it has been determined that we have at the very least upwards of a thousand or more receptors for our sense of smell. Compared to our very small amount of receptors for sight and sound, approximately four different receptors each, our sense of smell is phenomenal. And yet, do we ever really stop to think much of our olfactory abilities and what they can do for us besides help us taste or perhaps inform us that the gym locker room needs airing out?
Our oldest, and probably best of the basic senses, is often never even thought of much, unless dinner is on fire and then we certainly pay attention! But you know those moments when suddenly we get a whiff of a scent that we have no words for but it evokes a memory that is quite possibly better remembered than any other memory? Why? Because our olfactory ability has an amazing capacity to somehow remember and bring back memories, stored deep inside our brains, that we wouldn’t recall any other way. All scents, some we remember, and some we still have to learn have an effect on our brains.
Scents might make us remember being strong when needed, or maybe we remember being vulnerable and small but still very much taken care of, and maybe even we remember something even further back than this lifetime, of struggles and joys that we can just barely grasp? Anything is possible! And these memories, along with new feelings from new scents that coincide with new memories created, affect thought processes in our brains, which create action in making a difference in our lives.
At one time, when cavemen needed their sense of smell for survival, it made sense that smells created quick actions that saved their lives. Today, we are able to experiment with so many more combinations to create another tool to use in our journey of evolution and spirituality. These combinations of essential oils and herbs blended into incense or melded into candles assist us in making choices, relax so we have the strength to put choices into action, lift our spirits to help manifest everything we desire for ourselves in this life, as well as help us to create prosperity, longevity, happiness and health, just as fragrances always have. And you thought they just smelled good!
Perhaps next time you pick up a candle, or some wonderful incense, you will remember that it does so very much more than just cover up something you don’t want to smell? Incense and oil-infused candles are tools for you, not just fragrance. Burn these for your enjoyment and journey and use the Febreze for hiding kitty and Uncle Jack’s cigar!