Perfume and the Soul: A Meditation

We love the breathtaking book by Mandy Aftel called Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume. In the chapter Perfume and the Soul she talks about the oldest role of scent, predating its use as a cosmetic, as a vehicle to the realm of the spirit. Read on for a guided meditation by Mandy that focuses on scent, as well as her formula for a homemade meditation perfume.

Adapted from Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume by Mandy Aftel (Gibbs Smith, 2001)

Certain oils have a long history of association with meditation and spiritual practices. Frankincense, sandalwood, and myrhh have long been recognized by many religious traditions for their ability to tranquilize and clarify, and in general to bring us back to ourselves. Benzoinís sweet, resinous odor steadies and focuses the mind for meditation and contemplation. Cedarwood is a grounding oil that mobilizes the transformative powers of the will. Clary sage is an aid to inspiration and insight. Lavender absolute calms the spirit, while bergamot helps one to let go.

Aromatics can be used to purify the place where you meditate, and to create an atmosphere conducive to peaceful reflection. The consistent use of a blend that you have set aside expressly for the purpose of meditation will give it the power to transport you into the desired state of consciousness. You can use it to anoint parts of your body or an object to hold.

You can meditate on scent itself, an excellent way of setting aside the concerns of the day, calming the mind, and deepening and slowing the breathing. Use a rich, multi-layered, full-bodied essence rubbed on your hands or wrist.

Here is a guided meditation that focuses on scent:

Sit in a comfortable position. Hold the fragrant part of your hands or wrists up to your nose and inhale deeply three times. Keeping your eyes open, imagine your consciousness dissolving outward into the scent, as if you are touching it, merging with it, flowing into it. When you reach the point of saturation, close your eyes in order to detach from all senses except smell.

Descend deeply inside, bearing the essence of the scent you have chosen, and touch it with your vision of the scent. Build an inner picture of the essenceóthe essence of the essence. Imagine it as a phantasm, an animal, a memory, anything that seems to you to be entirely conjured by the deep impression of the scent. You will find that each scent you meditate upon creates a different internal image and meditative experience.

Turn outward again. Repeat the outer and inner phase in alternation until your soul feels full. This exercise will help you to carry in your consciousness a living connection with a particular essence, and through it, with the spiritual dimension of scent in general.

Meditation Blend
15 ml jojoba oil
30 drops frankincense
18 drops sandalwood
12 drops myrhh
18 drops rose
18 drops clary sage
18 drops Virginia cedarwood
30 drops pink grapefruit
24 drops bois de rose
40 drops bergamot


Kathryn C.
kathryn cook8 years ago

ty for this article - can the adjusted? Do you know where someone w/a very limited income can get these items?

Linda Shields
Linda Shields9 years ago

This so falls in line with my lavender, patchouli,rose scented baths. It's a gift to walk in the revelation, your rite to "love" yourself. We work hard and deserve the $10.00 bar of lavender soap with it's rich salving oils. A time of pause, the house stilled, a warmed bath laced with rose petals from the garden and sometimes simple essences, ministers "a healing". The warmth and scents wash over and you're lifted to "another" place of decadence fit for a princess or even Queen. The soaking gently transports you to a place of divine beauty enabling you step out of the pool, at the appointed time, refreshed and renewed with a sense of "having been pampered". What jubilation! These moments are truly worth making time for. Watch discerningly for the opportunity of escape into that magical place. Truly, time well spent. p.s. It was years before I could do this but now my children are older and I find more "Momma" time. YaY! Life does get Better and Better...Be encouraged!

Jody R. Sutherland
Jody R. Sutherland10 years ago

I agree, thank you for the article, I have been searching for more information on this subject for quite some time.

Ariel Sunshine Dolphin
Ariel SunDolphin10 years ago

Dear Care2 Friends, Thanx for the Article.
I really agree with it. I have been making my own Fey/Merfolk perfumes/potions since childhood.
I really like a nice clary sage too.
Thanks again :o)

Evelyn Vincent
Past Member 10 years ago

If your readers would like to purchase therapeutic-grade (the best quality) essential oils to make this meditation blend or another they will find Young Living essential oils at my website The Very

I also have a blog on essential oils, how to use them, what they're good for, some recipes, and so on. Learn more at

Irma Paulme
Irma Paulme10 years ago

This is giving the sense of smell a profound contribution or role in mind power. Thank you for this article!