Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with creating a manifesto reflecting wonders, curiosities, and delights currently captivating me – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
O is for…
osmatic (oz-mat-ik) – having or characterized by a well-developed sense of smell; a keen sense of smell; depending chiefly on the sense of smell for orientation
The nose knows it’s the scenter of your face.
Humans can detect at least one trillion different smells. Amazing isn’t it?! It’s also true that our olfactory palettes are forged by many things, including particularities and peculiarities of our noses, personal preferences, and even early childhood memories. We all experience scents slightly differently, based on a combination of individual sensitivities.
Scent is hugely important to me. One of my passions is as an aromatherapist and natural perfumer and not only do I delight in using my nose to sniff the world, but I most especially enjoy wearing natural fragrances. My home is fragrant as well. I love nothing more than bouquets of flowers brightening and scenting up the place. I use incense and essential oils as both offerings and in my meditations. And of course I’m always spritzing my auric sprays around – I do love a feel-good-energy-shift.
That’s really what I love about fragrance – the ability to transport; to delight; to deepen; to lighten.
The sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any of our other senses. As Lewis Thomas so cogently puts it:
“The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odor around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one center after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection. ”
Scent can certainly be the way into old memories, but it can be a reminder of other things as well.
I’m particularly charmed by the Chinese proverb:
“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.”
I certainly like the idea of that. In the giving, much is received as well. As a reminder I have this little card propped up in my studio. I scented the paper with a beautiful Bulgarian rose essential oil and the hieroglyphics are my name Deborah.
Our natural world is very fragrant, and I’m very much not a fan of artificial scents, chemical-laden, petroleum-based products. And although I absolutely love wearing natural perfumes, I’m never a fan of overpowering scents. Perfume is for me; it’s a very personal experience – for the joy it gives me, or the spiritual and/or vibrational blessing. Like so much about me, if you really want to know me (and my perfume) you need to lean in close.
In my training both as an aromatherapist and a natural perfumer, keeping journals was (and still is) a critical, and fun, part of the work. Here’s a peek at the page in one of my early journals where I was beginning my exploration of Helichrysum.
My favorite part of the page is the white strip under the name at the top right. That’s a fragrance test strip. They’re used to dip into the essential oil and you sniff the strip rather than from the bottle. They’re particularly helpful when you’re evaluating blends because you want to be able to see how a fragrance develops over time. The first top note isn’t the whole story. Test strips are also a good way to simply train your nose as well, and I love keeping them on journal pages where I can see a photo and catch a hint of scent as well.
Another training tool, and fun continued practice, is to keep a scent diary, listing the scents of the day. For a while I used a fabulous stash of vintage library card stock. You can see an example of the card near the top of this post.
I rejoice in being a strongly osmatic creature, able to deeply appreciate the scents around me; and I want to add my own fragrance to the medley as well.
What about you? Do you have a favorite fragrance? Do you use essential oils? Have a favorite scent-related memory? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
Let me start by saying I am looking forward to visiting here each day! &*>
My mother had the nose of a bloodhound. This meant we couldn’t get away with anything remotely unsavoury! My olfactory ability is much less than hers but considerably better than other family members, it seems, for when I want to open windows to let in fresh air, I get told I’m imagining the stale and sturdy odours… sigh.
Have mentioned before, but yes, I do use incense and limited amounts of oils. On myself, I keep it to rose/peony and, as you say, as close to me as possible. Nothing is worse than being attacked by nine yards of perfume. YAM xx
Thank you for your kind words Yamini.
You have me laughing with images of your mother. I love your expression “sturdy” odors – I’ve not heard that before but it’s perfect and I am promptly adopting it.
I love both roses and peonies, and when my peonies bloom it’s definitely a day of celebration. We’re a ways off from that still, but I’m very much looking forward to enjoying those lush fragrant blossoms.
I prefer citrus scents around the house. I associate lemon or orange with a clean house. I like herb scents as well, but am not fond of vanilla/sweet scents [unless there’s food involved]. I’m not much for anything like scented oils or candles, preferring fresh air I guess. But maybe I’ve not found the *right* oils or candles. Never say never.
I like citrus scents as well Ally, and grapefruit can be a nice little mix-up from lemon and orange sometimes.
I love the smell of beeswax candles. But with other candles and scented oils the problem, at least for me, is that they frequently use “fragrance” oils which are often heavily chemically-laden and not pure essential oils.
I am not as osmatic as I once was, alas! It’s a good thing I don’t make my living from my nose…very fond of perfumes still though I can’t personally get the benefit – especially like jasmine, and lavender, and sandalwood, all tied up with ladies from childhood. Memory is very scent intensive, as you said.
Alas indeed, our sense of smell does decline with age, sometimes quite drastically. But it’s fun knowing you are perhaps creating scent memories for others, just as you have yours.
‘The nose knows it’s the scenter of your face’. I thought this was a typo Deborah until I grasped it! Have you ever read Patrick Suskind’s book: Perfume? Oldish book but I loved it. He smelled everything… there was film of the same name, which was good, though I think the book was better.
There is a scent that is peculiar to this part of the world where I am at the moment. It is from the fynbos …(fine bush) and I just love it to bits. I love a scented candle, also of the citrus sort. There is a name and I can’t remember it right now. I love sandalwood soaps and magnolia, vanilla soaps. Paris by Yves St Laurent is my favourite of all time but I don’t think they’re making it anymore.
I do know Suskind’s book Susan, and the film as well. I loved it as well.
Your post a few days ago when you mentioned fynbos was the first I’d ever heard of this. I’ve been researching sources to find an essential oil so I’ll be able to have the pleasure of smelling it that way.
I believe Paris is still being manufactured, so you may want to check that out.
Good to know re Paris still being made … we’ll be in Paris in June!
Neroli was the name of the scent I couldn’t remember ..
How lovely Susan – Paris in June sounds fabulous!
Neroli is fabulous as well. It carries so much in it’s delicate scent.
Hi Deborah – I love natural scents … fresh flowers and nothing false … and agree with Susan’s suggestion re the book. I went to a Perfume exhibition at Somerset House … sadly I was stupid when I left and I think those things went awol … til I sort out life – then the notes etc also went awol …
Just love fresh flowers and plants …and Susan’s fynbos – cheers Hilary
Oh I heard about the Perfume exhibition at Somerset House – how fabulous you got to attend Hilary!
I’ll hold the good thought that all things AWOL will find their way back to you with perfect ease and grace!
My favorite scent is Palo Santo. It is a wood made into oil and incense cones. The tree grows in coastal areas of South America, is in the citrus family and smells of pine, mint and lemon. Stop by my blog tomorrow, ironically, for more about it.
Emily In Ecuador
Oh fun Emily – I’ll certainly be by.
I love Palo Santo. I use the oil, but I also like to burn the wood – it’s my preferred smudging material.
You would love the tour of what we in town call the Palo Santo factory, Deborah. I give a mini-tour of it today.
Emily In Ecuador | Palo Santo Products Made in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
I am learning so many new words from your blog 🙂
Our volunteer storytellers at the NGO I work for have a “story scent” an aromatherapist made for us. It is mixed of different components, and we open it before every storytelling session, so that the kids can absorb it along with the tales. I love the idea 🙂
The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales
Oh you can’t guess how delighted I am to hear this – it totally totally totally makes my heart happy!
Feeling the fragrance of you in this post:)
“A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.”
The little card with your name and the glimpse of your journal–it’s all making me want to do what you’ve suggested : “if you really want to know me (and my perfume) you need to lean in close.”
You live a charmed life Deborah–surrounded by scents and fragrances–it all sounds like a dream.
My favourite fragrances are almost all food related;) fluffy chapati on a hot pan, curry leaves tempering in hot ghee.
Then come the flowers and herbs and leaves and the scent of freshly mowed lawn, or the way a cold foggy morning smells when autumn arrives.
P is for Paradise in Plain Sight
I really DO feel like I live a charmed life Arti – and I try to celebrate it always with equal parts of delight and gratitude.
While botanical fragrances may be my first love, I will happily join you in the kitchen for some major enjoyment of food fragrances. To be followed of course by extensive sampling of said food. You know, just to make sure they live up to their aromas. 🙂
How I love that you know the scent of a foggy autumn morning! It’s such a delight to enjoy beauty with all our senses isn’t it?
Came back to tell you that if you get a chance, please watch this gem of a film called October. A friend sent this message when she recommended that I go and watch it: “October: a lyrical work…if you can appreciate the slow and paced swirling decent of a falling leaf from the branch to the ground—go watch it, else let it be…”
It’s an Indian film with subtitles and the sense of smell is central to its story.
Oh Arti – I’m most definitely intrigued. This film is definitely going on my watch list. Thank you so much for sharing!
I have an obsession with scents. I love good ones and hate bad ones, far more than the average person. I can tell what stage of cooking something is at by the scent. I haven’t used a timer in years. My husband is one of the 2% of the population that doesn’t ever smell bad. There is one exception. I can smell when his cancer is progressing. His good smell is one of the things I fear losing when he dies. There is a company in France that has perfected the science of getting a person’s scent in a bottle (a perfume of sorts). It is $600/ bottle! I plan on buying a bottle, despite the high price tag.
Facing Cancer with Grace
You have a very refined nose indeed Heather. I’ve not heard about the French company’s offering, but undoubtedly capturing something so important to you is well worth the cost.
I wear nothing but Light Blue; I love its delicate citrus scent. In my home I use Scentsy Satin Sheets which is very fresh smelling. I’m not a fan of floral or heavy perfumes. Scent has always been important to me; my parents used to call me “The Sniffer.” I always (even still) smell something before I eat or drink it. 🙂
It can be nice to have a signature scent Margaret. It can also be fun, if you’ve worn a number of things over the years, to figure out what your scent story is.
Scent can be such a contributing factor to our enjoyment of food. Being nicknamed “The Sniffer” makes me smile. I think that might have been applied to my brother when we were kids. He embarrassed my parents once, when dining with relatives we hardly ever saw, he sniffed their silverware before eating. I suppose it was tarnished or perhaps newly cleaned – I was way to young to remember – but he was none to happy at the smell, and my parents were none to happy with him.
Great choice for your letter “O”. Love the line, “The nose knows it’s the center of your face.”
Thanks Shari – and I appreciate you stopping by. And may you always smell good. 🙂
I’m an extremely somatic person, and my home is always smelling of aroma oils or incenses. I have a special connect with floral scents like Jasmine, night jasmine as I grew up surrounded by this flowers and they take me back to those heydays.
I have a natural jasmine spray that I totally adore.
I love fragrances that don’t overpower, but those with a calming, soothing effect.
Lovely post Deboarh.
Queer and Quirky
I love how scents can take us back. Your jasmine spray sounds absolutely lovely Natasha!
I’m a big fan of serenity and soothing, calming scents are favorites of mine as well.
Citrus, Lavender and Magnolia. The first two in the house and Magnolia I use, occasionally, as a perfumer, just a few little drops here and there on my body.
In Spring and Summer I use cloves to spread a scent in the kitchen to keep away the flies, also just subtle, because I am not a fan of strong odors..
Lovely choices Patty. I hadn’t realized the fly repellent qualities of cloves, nor had I thought of them as a spring/summer scent. But now that I think of it, I especially love the clove-spicy scent of certain carnations and that’s very summery indeed.