From The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Practical Magic, by Susan Greenwood:
Incense and essential oils (aromatics)
In ancient temples, incense was burned to purify the atmosphere, focus the mind and calm the senses as well as to symbolically carry the prayers and requests of the worshippers to the gods and goddesses above. Each fragrance has its own unique properties, which can be used in magic to stimulate, relax, rebalance, transform or purify energetic states, as well as to influence possible outcomes.
Our sense of smell is registered in the part of the brain that is connected with memory, emotion and instinctive activities. Fragrance plays a very important part in controlling our feelings and responses: foul or acrid fumes repel us, whereas sweet or fragrant aromas tend to draw us closer to their source. Some scents can be used to attract positive vibrations, and others to drive away negative influences. Some scents have a refreshing or energizing action, while others promote calm and relaxation; some aromas invoke sexual desire, while others quell it. Some are head-clearing and encourage clarity of thought, while others promote dreams and intuition, creativity and inspiration.
Essential oils are contained to a greater or lesser extent in all parts of a plant and are believed to represent its ‘quintessence’ or life-blood. These oils have always been imbued with magical, transforming properties.
Peppermint – For clarity and courage, increases perception and awareness in the dream state
Lavender – Psychic balance, brings emotions under control
Frankincense – Calms and quiets the mind, an aid to meditation, use in rituals of initiation and rites of passage
Tea Tree – For space clearing and purification; a light in the darkness
I’ve been using Lavender and Frankincense to calm my mind during a particluarly challenging project at work, using Peppermint for upset stomach, and to help me cool down on hot days.
Some essential oils are ‘therapy grade’ and can be taken internally. I’m not quite there yet…
Dear Reader, what’s your favorite smell?