The Language of Scents
Olfactory psychology is partly determined on the evocative power that only the scents of nature possess. These have had millennia to settle in the depth one of our psyche. Frankincense and aromatic resins have always accompanied our religious rituals, perfumed spices our foods, balms and infusions have cured us. Nevertheless olfactory psychology depends in the first place on the psychology of smells, that’s to say on the effect that the odors produce on our nervous system and on the human psyche, activating the endocrine system in constant and predictable way, as demonstrated by the researchers in the field of psicoaromatherapy.
Some aromas are real archetypes of an olfactory language and speak to our subconscious in a more eloquent and convincing way than any speech.
The trees are standing straight and strong, they emanate quiet force and security.
Their scent helps to face the difficult times without being pulled down by adversities. The tree symbolizes the male qualities, stability, reliability and tenacity.
Tastes follow the changes of social roles and the woody aromas are often preferred by the women working in situations of competition with men, or who must assume charges or social roles traditionally reserved to them. That is because the woody smells will emphasize the masculine side and qualities that they must develop in order to assert themselves at the working place.
The woody scents evoke the primordial shelter of the trees and of the forests against weather and danger.
The archetype of the tree in the olfactory language is the pine, its resinous effluvia has perfumed the entire planet when it was covered of forests, million years ago. Its trunk raises itself straight and sturdy and allows it’s top to reach breathtaking heights. The trees of the pine family have the ability to resist to extreme climates and some of them are among the oldest living beings that exist.
From the pines come two olfactory notes: the wood and the leaves. The smell of the leaves is balsamic and provokes the expansion of the breath, in effects, is through the leaves that the tree breathes and its foliage is like a reversed lung. The aroma of the leaves opens the respiratory track and makes us raise the head to the sky exactly like the top of the trees. The essences obtained from the distillation of leaves from the various species of pines cure the most serious respiratory diseases. The wood of the pines trunk produces denser essential oils, they are more persistent and are often used in perfumery to give body and tenacity to natural perfumes. these essential oils are tenacious and stable, they emanate an image of reassuring force and they instill confidence.
In aromatherapy the essences of the trunk give strength to the bones, as it can easily be imagined, and to the articulations, in a particular way to the vertebral column. In much the same way in which the wood is warm and insulator, the essences of woods, and specially those of the pines, reinforce the ability of the body to resist to the diseases of the cold.
The resins are some of the noblest aromatic substances. They have the function to protect the tree from the aggression of virus, of fungi and the insects.
The resin g is present in small amount in the tree but its olfactory print pervades the entire plant from the roots to the seed because it is its “spirit “. The scent of aromatic resins therefore helps man to find that witch unites his physical, mental and emotional dimensions.
The noble qualities of resinous gums have been used from the antiquity as cure and protection against diseases and against aggressions be them physical or psychical.
The archetype of aromatic resins is Frankincense, called Olibano, from the Arab Al- Lubaan. The tree of the desert that produces it is cared of and protected since thousands of years by the Bedouins, like a flock of goats or camels: the animals give the milk, the tree gives the “white tears” that drop from small wounds inflicted on the branches and on the trunk.
The tree of the Incense produces the resin in order to heal and to close its wounds and the essence of frankincense has a powerful healing power on the wounds of the body.
The Frankincense resin is still a precious good on the Arabic peninsula markets where, other than being burnt as incense, it is also chewed as chewing-gum and drunk in decoction to cure gastric and infectious diseases.
The aroma of Frankincense evokes the mystery of sacredness and spiritual authority. Worn as a perfume it communicates an image of nearly ecclesiastic seriousness . It can instill subjection and respect from the others and is certainly adapted to leaders and people of social authority, who can complete it with woody and musky notes that evocate solidity and tenacity, like oak moss.
The scent of flowers is certainly the most sublime and most etherised, and it symbolises the most delicate and elevated human emotions.
Joyful and euforizing, the scent of flowers brings forth worriless, it renders joyful and it is at the base of aromatic cures against stress and anxiety in psycho-aromatherapy as well as in in perfumetherapy.
The flowers symbolize the femininity and their affinity with the feminine apparatus renders them precious for women in aromatherapy, helping in the in the cure of their disturbs.
The scent of the flowers, worn from a man, is able to stimulate its intuitive, irrational and artistic side, giving him the dimension of the “Complete Man?: the Warrior Poet of the cavalierly tradition.
Trade has opened the roads of communication between cultures since the beginning of civilization, as civilisation itself is based on trade.
The spices have had in this phenomenon a most important role. Their high commercial value was due to their curative virtues and to the refined pleasure they give to the palate. They are traditionally used all over the world in the cure of numerous diseases of the digestive apparatus. Spices are unique for allowing combining in food pleasure and health.
Spices come from the hot countries and they heat up the body with their great solar energy. For this reason they are most useful to northern people, being able to cure most part of diseases caused by cold. They are also aphrodisiac and warm up the soul helping cold tempered persons to unlock their emotions.
In the physical as well as in the psychological sense, spices are heating, strengthening and exciting, they strongly evoke oriental and exotic feelings although they have winned a privileged place in our daily life due to their extensive use on our tables. Their aroma reminds us of Christmas feasts, of cookies hot from the oven and of the house and family.
On the psychological level, spices allow us to experiment the taste of travelling to exotic countries in the perfect comfort of own house. They combine the deep fascination for adventure with a homely feeling of security.
This explains the great consent that spicy perfumes have always obtained and this is the very secret of some of the most popular fragrances.
If the family of the citruses were compared to a human family, Grapefruit would be the the papa, with its bitter and strong aroma, the orange would be the mother, juvenile, sweet and reassuring. The Lemon is like an adolescent, extreme and rebel, the Bergamot the daughter, sweet but of independent character and the Tangerine with its sweetest tender scent could not be other that the child, the smallest one. In fact, tangerine essence is used in aromatherapy to cure nervous problems of the children.
The essences of citruses have all a strong antiseptic atmospheric power, and the property to rejoice the heart, to infuse a sense of good humour and to melt stress.
See the animal scents that are used in traditional medicine and in perfumery (click here)
See also Olfactory psychology