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September 30, 2022
Scents-ibility for October: Aromatherapy by Star
October is month of many scents that are evocative in the emotions that they often stir. The smell of fallen and drying leaves, woodsmoke, and the scents of baking and ciders have the potential to trigger memories of childhood and beyond. If October can be summarized with one word, for me it would be remembrance.
At Samhaintide we remember those who have passed, and do our best to honor those souls - their contributions to the world, to the communities they served, and often the impact they had on a personal level.
The process of remembrance can also bring up memories that are sometimes painful and even traumatic. Trying to honor the memory of someone who no matter how celebrated, caused personal trauma or harm at some point can be a tricky matter. All humans are flawed, and all make mistakes, some much greater so than others. Navigating the path of ancestor veneration and remembrance can require one’s full attention.
Memory and scent are inextricably connected. The smell of common holiday fare can evoke strong emotions, be they joyous or traumatic, though not necessarily mutually exclusive. If something traumatic occurred while a certain scent was pervasive, often every time the scent is experienced, the trauma is recollected. Fortunately, other less traumatic experiences are also frequently layered either on top of or underneath the traumatic experience and the associated scent. This allows for a path forward and a way to circumnavigate the trauma the scent can trigger.
For myself, one of my triggering scents was that of lavender because I associated it with a very abusive grandmother. It took me nearly three decades to both figure out the association and overcome my reaction of repulsion to lavender. In essence, I rewired my brain by deliberately using the scent of lavender in association with positive occasions and events.
The other smell I associate with my grandmother is pineapple upside-down cake. In that department I was less successful, as to this day I am repulsed by the smell and it evokes strong negative emotions for me. And frankly, I can live without the cake but lavender, one of the most powerful and versatile essential oils, I cannot.
While remembrance certainly is large part of Samhaintide, it is also the season of release, letting go of burdens, and even forgiveness. Sometimes, we are unwittingly weighted by the emotional burdens we carry that we are somewhat unaware of. I would invite you to explore what you may be carrying that might be set aside, especially if it is no longer serves a purpose that is helpful or if it does not even really belong to you.
Forgiveness can be a challenging path to pursue at times. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. From my perspective, it is more of a vehicle for releasing that which no longer serves. However, frequently the person we need to forgive the most is ourselves. To help facilitate the practice of both remembrance and release, I have included two blends that incorporate some the seasons most used scents: rosemary, lavender, and clove.
May your Samhaintide be full of joyous remembrance and release. What is remembered, lives!
Blend for Remebrance:
6 drops of Rosemay (Rosmarinus officinalis) essential oil
4 drops of Lavender (Lavendula officinalis) essential oil
2 drops of Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) essential oil
2 drops of Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) essential oil
Blend for Release & Forgiveness:
6 drops of Lavender (Lavendula officinalis) essential oil
3 drops of Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oil
4 drops of Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) essential oil
To use as an oil:
Blend with one ounce of base oil, like sweet almond
To use as a linen spray:
16 oz of distilled or filtered water
½ oz of witch hazel or alcohol
Add witch hazel or alcohol to spray bottle, then drops of oil, and finally water.
Shake well before each use.
A note on safety and how to conduct a skin patch test
As with all essential oil blends, a skin patch test should be done before topically applying. Simply apply a small amount of the blend to the inside of the upper arm. If no irritation develops after 24 hours, then it is safe to use. If at any point during a skin patch test if irritation develops, the application area should be immediately treated with either a dairy-based product like milk or yogurt to halt the irritation. Then the testing area should be and thoroughly washed with mild soap and water and cleaned of the substance applied.
Please note that no matter how safe and natural you believe essential oils to be, they are not recommended to be applied straight or “neat” directly on the skin. There are a few exceptions for regular use, but even those should only be used that way under the advice of a certified or registered aromatherapist. Young children, the elderly, anyone with a comprised immune system, and those who are pregnant may require a formula that is much reduced in active ingredients. Essential oils of any variety should always be cautiously used around pets, and never used on cats or in any way that would allow them to ingest it—like breathing in vaporized spray or licking it off of their fur.
January 29, 2023
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