Scent as Sacrament
Scent was created by Nature and not by Man nor by Woman. It – Scent – is the vital but invisible message which tells us that Spring has come, which informs our animal co-inhabitants of our precious planet that it is time for mating and which, through the delicious natural scents from flowers, herbs and fragrant woods is possibly a natural ‘wellness’ factor allaying fears and anxiety about life around us.
The definition of spirituality which I think best fits the temper of the 21st century is that of the spirituality and mental health sub-group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealth)
Amongst their criteria – two appeal to me – ..spirituality is identified with.
- ....experiencing a deep-seated sense of meaning and purpose in life,....
- ..What sustains you – or keeps you going in difficult times?
In the opinion of many scent lovers, it is an evil that scent culture has become contaminated by cheap synthetic perfumes, sold with tawdry marketing campaigns and an appeal to a sexually-heated celebrity culture.
Reflect that when you next bend down to experience the entrancing fragrance of the rose, the gardenia or any of the beautiful scented flowers – that the wonderful feeling of well-being you experience is a simple and free gift from Nature – and is a simple but effective spiritual experience.
'I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild:
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
And mid-May’s eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.'
(John Keats; 1795-1821; Ode to a Nightingale)