Using Scent, Evoking Images

As I sit here in my nice, warm, cozy office, it is 15°F outside and the weather app tells me the windchill is -4°F. That’s warmer than when I woke: it was 2°F with a windchill somewhere around -15°F. There’s about an inch of snow on the ground. That will melt in today’s sun but probably be replaced by the next system that’s coming in tomorrow. While not bad compared to what’s happening farther north, it’s still cold for Georgia. It looks cold.


Leo, The-Not-So-Stray should be in his house but is soaking up the sun. Phone-camera is crummy – he’s the lump at the top of the stairs.

Yes, our house has a fireplace. We built and, knowing power goes out frequently here in the mountains, wanted a non-electric heat source. The romantic aspect wasn’t lost even on my husband. However, the fireplace is downstairs and I’m upstairs in the office at the opposite end of the house. There isn’t enough room on the sofa for all my research binders and books so I write non-fiction at my desk. What’s a girl to do?

Use scent, that’s what. I’ve written before about the use of scent for certain situations (here and here for example) and this is no different. I can’t handle smoke in the house so combustible incense is out. Therefore, it’s essential oils to the rescue. I’m trying to match the aroma that would be coming out of my fireplace so in my office oil warmer are equal parts Pine and Cedarwood with a drop of Oakmoss. If I close my eyes I can almost hear the crackle of burning wood.

Scientifically we know that scent can affect the mind and body (aromatherapy) so I use it a lot. During tax season, I’ll go through almost a whole bottle of Rosemary – keeps me sharp. When clients drive me nuts (frequently), Ylang-Ylang calms me. Divination sessions? I will use one of two blended oils: one is woodsy, the other is citrus-y. It depends on not only my mood but what sort of question I’m looking to answer.

While I will glance at my correspondence lists when blending an oil, I mostly go by intuition. And me. What scent affects me in the way I need to be affected? Sweet Orange is the only citrus on my list of “divination” herbs, yet adding a touch of Lime and a couple of others works better – for me.

Don’t have an oil warmer? Put a small pan of water to simmer on the stove and add your oils. (Be sure to wash your pot thoroughly afterward if you plan on using it for cooking again.) Don’t have essential oils? Throw a handful of aromatic herbs into that pan of water (they don’t call it simmering potpourri for nothing). Don’t want water? Plain ol’ dried potpourri works (but takes awhile to make…the scents have to marry). I guess in a pinch you could use a scented candle or those wafer-thingies they’re selling these days but I’m all about natural. Most commercial candles or other scented items use synthetic fragrances and those, while they may smell nice, don’t have the chemical constituents in herbs that work on the physical aspect of things. (Personally, I find most commercial scents don’t quite smell right.)

The next time you find a need to evoke a specific image or emotion, try scent. Look at lists, yes, but experiment to see what works for you. Meanwhile, I’m closing my eyes for a moment, listening to the crackling of a fireplace and feeling warm…