“Can you smell that?”
“What, Dad? Smell what?”
Turning in the direction my father was facing, west, I breathed in deeply and, yes, I could smell a very distinct scent in the air. This was the scent of rain.
Being raised on a dairy farm in rural Ontario, scents and smells were an essential part of growing up and in many ways, our survival depended on it. My father was my guide and Mother Nature was the workshop. Your senses become quite heightened living in the country. Spring and summer were the most scentual!
“Springs coming,” he’d say, and I would breathe in, the sweet warmth of Spring filling my lungs; the wet, earthy scent of newly turned soil being readied for the spring planting of oats. Sweet clover flowering in the fields told Dad it was time to cut the hay that fed our cows over winter. I think that was my one of my favourite smells, fresh cut clover.
There was also the very distinctive, more pungent scent of our farm animals. “She smells off,” Dad would say, and I could smell that something was wrong with one of our cows – she was sick. Or the unmistakable soft, sweet, almost candy-like smell of a newborn calf. Or my sisters and I going through the hay mow ‘smelling out’ where there might be a new batch of kittens or puppies.
There were other smells – very distinctive smells that weren’t quite so sweet. To this day, I can still distinguish the difference between cow, horse, chicken, pig, or sheep s**t, and the most overwhelming of them all, SKUNK! However, if you can smell skunk, you’re safe…someone or something else may not have been so lucky.
The experience of scent as a child impressed and impacted the natural, human part of my soul, but the sacred was awakened when I first breathed in deeply – (by now breathing a new scent was like opening a present, excited anticipation) – frankincense. I had no idea what this smell was, but in that moment, I felt the sacred, a communion with the Divine. A quietness and calm enveloped me. It was my first Holy Communion – the Christian ceremony when first receiving the Holy Eucharist.
There was nothing in my 8-year-old experience that would have informed or given me that mystical, sacred moment. However, the ancient scent of frankincense, I discovered years later in my aromatherapy research, has been used in sacred ritual for thousands of years. Was this a ‘scent imprint’ in my DNA? I don’t know, but I do know that that moment has shaped my spiritual experience of scent ever since.
Fast forward 25+ years to 1992. I found myself exploring aromatherapy massage as a possible new career direction. The childhood scentual and sacred had taken a back seat to school, marriage, family and extensive volunteer work in international development. And then, I found myself a divorced, single mother of two extraordinary sons AND completely disenchanted with the 9-5, keep-bread-on-the-table work experience. I needed guidance.
“Okay, God, I need a sign to let me know if I should leave my job and go in the aromatherapy direction. And it would be great, God, if you could let me know by 2:00 today”.
I had a job review that afternoon, and I knew I wasn’t happy with the work I was doing. Well, didn’t I then turn on the radio to the CBC on the way to work and the first thing the announcer said was, “Isn’t is amazing how popular aromatherapy is becoming in North America?”
I burst out laughing and shouted, “God, I’m impressed! Thank you!” This was my sign. I handed in my notice that afternoon. I was now, officially, a self-employed aromatherapist.
Aromatherapy was an up-and-coming anomaly, I was to discover. The first few years were toting my massage table and essential oils to client’s homes until an opportunity to work in a spa arose. It was there, in the spa environment, that scent and sacred were reawakened. Blending essential oils, the gentle touch of massage, and listening to hearts and souls of each client gave rise to a whole new understanding of how scent affects us.
As I continued to unravel the mysteries of the healing qualities of the essential oils, how they impact the limbic brain—our emotion and memory centre—I could feel how the blends where reawakening in me that beautiful childhood dance with the Divine. And here it was, occurring with my clients. The willingness to share childhood traumas when the soft, calming, heart-opening scent of lavender was used. The stresses, joys, heartbreaks, the delight of birth and new life, as well as healing when mourning death. Frankincense, peppermint, clary sage, cedar…essential oils and their unwitting, gentle nudge to heal, to open up and unite with the body, soul, the Divine…our selves.
Thousands of one-on-one, deeply intimate conversations during the spa days carved upon my soul the unquestionable impact and power of scent and essential oils.
Then another new directional turn. A client informed me that a new shop had opened up in town.
“It’s called Akasha’s Den, and they have all sorts of New Age type stuff.”
How exciting! I checked them out the next day.
I wandered over to their display of essential oils and noticed they were carrying what one might call scented oils. A beaming, long blonde-haired ‘nature girl’—Mary Wileichuk, the owner—and I got chatting about essential oils and their properties when she announced, “The day you decide to start your own line of essential oils, I’ll carry them here.” Well, didn’t that hit a nerve AND another career turn. Seven months later, I launched ‘Nature Makes Scents – Essential Oils, Blends and Custom Blending’ with Akasha’s Den and a new private massage practice after 15 years with the spa industry.
Mary and her extraordinary partner, Alex Terrier, were instrumental in supporting the direction of my work. A classic example, “Inez, could you create a smudge spray? Some of our clients have difficulties with the traditional sage smudge.”
Essential oils were already coming to mind, but the clincher was the soft, dreamlike guiding voice that came in the wee hours of the morning whispering, “You’re to call it Pax Protection, and these are the oils to use: cedar, sage, hyssop and myrrh”. And that was that. Pax, Latin for peace, was my initiation into blending in communion with the Divine.
Through the years with Akasha’s Den, I’ve discovered that the blends clients gravitate towards have been those rooted in Divine collaboration: Pax Protection, The Archangel Collection, Miracle of the Christmas Rose, Heaven Scent and there’s more to come. (Heaven Scent was fun. I received the completed scent in the early morning, and it was up to me to figure out what was in it!)
What came next? Sharing the experience of essential oils; the powerful and sublime effect they can have in our lives, and what better way than in a workshop, Essential Oil Blending For the Soul – The Intuitive Way.
In this workshop, we start with the basic understanding of how essential oils work. We explore the many levels on which they work…mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Participants also learn how to cultivate one of their most powerful senses…scent! We examine a brief history of the oils, scent’s multi-faceted effect on us, their healing properties, and the pièce de résistance, the spiritual aspects of the essential oils.
Participant experience fifteen oils, breathing them in as they’re passed around the group. They are guided to feel deep within their intuitive bodies which of the essential oils calls to them. From here, the fun and the adventure of scent begins. We create our own blend from our chosen oils. I think of it as you’re choosing the oils AND the oils are choosing you. This intuitively and divinely-guided blend can be used in meditation and prayer or whenever you feel called to use your sacred blend…before dreamtime at night; as sacred support before an important meeting; or whenever you want to take a moment to connect with soul and the sacred.
Essential oils and all their beautiful, divine properties have been an integral part of my life for over 25 years and shall continue to be.
What’s next in my Escentual Blog? With each posting, we’ll continue to cultivate and re-educate our sense of smell with fun adventures and escapades in the world of scent. Scents of the city and country will be the first romp in our scentual experience. We’ll also explore individual essential oils and some of their properties…focusing more on their spiritual properties and how to use them in blends for specific intentions: relationships (family, friends partnerships, romance) career, dream-work, personal aspirations, and much more!
I look forward to ushering everyone who wants to play into a whole new world of Life – An Escentual Experience.