Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Your Majestic, Magical Nose

As the waves of perfume, heliotrope, rose,
Float in the garden when no wind blows,

Come to us, go from us, whence no one knows;

So the old tunes float in my mind,
And go from me leaving no trace behind,

Like fragrance borne on the hush of the wind.

— Sara Teasdale, Old Tunes

As we gently (I hope it’s been gentle!) return to our regular routines following our reading deprivation, I am inviting you to slow down the process by taking sensory breaks during your day. This is to help us keep some of the cleared, more sensitive awareness that we’ve created during our week off. Perhaps in so doing, the seeds of deeper changes will have a chance to take root and grow.

The sense of smell is our oldest, most primitive sense. The way that our brain is constructed, smell is the most powerful and direct trigger of memory. With our first breath of life as we emerge from our mother’s womb, to our last exhalation, it is with us throughout our lives. When my mother was in the final minutes of her dying, the attending nurse encouraged me to stroke Mom’s hand, but also lean close, because even after she might no longer feel my touch, she would smell my scent to the end.

In her exquisite book, A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman notes, “Through all the lather of one’s life, each breath passes air over our olfactory sites. Each day, we breathe about 23, 040 times and move around 438 cubic feet of air. It takes us about 5 seconds to breathe – two seconds to inhale, and three seconds to exhale – and in that time, molecules of odor flood through our systems.”

She also points out that, “Etymologically speaking, breath is not neutral or bland – it’s cooked air; we live in a constant simmering. There is a furnace in our cells, and when we breathe, we pass the world through our bodies, brew it lightly, and turn it loose again, gently altered for having known us.”

But, as author of The Creative License, Danny Gregory, points out, “We are always masking and varying scents with others. Piney freshness, ocean breeze, lemony this and orangey that. Smells designed to confuse and dull our senses further. The more our sense of smell is overwhelmed and confused, the more likely it is to shut down, to ignore new input. Eventually, we stop relying on—or attending to—this vital sense.”

So for today’s sensory playtime, list ten smells you can clearly remember: memories like the smell of your daughter’s hair when she was little; your mother’s latkes sizzling; the smell of Mr. Bubble bubble bath; the damp basement rec room of your grade school best friend; playing third base in the middle of summer; the first day of school. As you recall them, roll those memories around in the back of your mouth and cheeks; I bet you can almost taste and smell some of them.

Then, sometime today, give your nose a treat. Visit a cheese shop or bakery; maybe a pet store; pop into a department store and cruise down the perfume counters; wander through the lumber section of your local home improvement or hardware store; sample each and every bouquet at a florist or the floral section of your grocery store.

Note the obvious scents, but let your majestic, magical nose also relay to you the subtle nuances, delicate variations between one thing and another. Pick out each individual smell. Take home a souvenir – a flower, cat toy, or tissue that has been spritzed with perfume.

Are you noticing a hidden agenda in these exercises? Tomorrow, I’ll reveal my other motivation behind these suggestions. Can you guess?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • June 4, 2009, 3:41 pm ARIE

    Jumping in for some comments after a long absence…
    Hope it is within the context of smell/taste/sound.

    This weeks postings remind me of the wild food safety procedure.
    You see a fruit/vegetable/herb you don't recognize. If it attracts you, then go to the next step.
    You smell it. If it smells good then you put a small piece in your mouth and taste it.
    If it tastes good then you eat a very small portion and wait. If you feel well after about an hour then you can eat it.
    Another way to test if a food is good for you is to take your pulse before eating it. Then 10 minutes after eating it take the pulse again. If your heartbeat went up considerably then your body rejects this food.
    Still another way is to communicate with the food. Your younger self will get the right information.

    Then here is an exercise I love. To eat what normally would take 10 minutes in one hour. This means that the fork goes to your mouth in slow motion and you chew in slow motion. The results of eating this way for one hour are amazing.

    Going backwards to sound.
    Try hearing the silence. It has a special sound. You may have to do this for some days untill you can hear it.
    Stand still, relax all your muscles and listen for 7 minutes.
    When doing this I remember hearing this sound when I was very young. Maybe 5 years old. Maybe less.

    Well I'll stop here. I've written too much stuff. It may not be of interest to the majority.


  • June 4, 2009, 5:34 pm Liz

    Not too much, Arie, I love slow motion, since I always move way too fast and have to consciously slow myself down, in all areas of living, thinking, the song, slow down you move too fast, got to let the morning pass…So. Smell..also yummy, steamy sidewalks after a quick but cleansing summer rain, the incense in the wonderful little Chinese shop on Royal street where I stopped every day on my way home, the Mississipi River, the Gulf Coast, my babies, just washed and so sweet, the barn's sweet smell of horse and hay and straw, honeysuckle, and the purple vines whose name escapes me, garlic, onion and peppers in any kitchen, puppy breath, patchouli and sandalwood (sadly over-harvested in India), and fresh clean skin…fresh cut grass.

  • June 4, 2009, 6:41 pm Star

    My long stem heritage deep pink roses are blooming again and they have the loveliest scent! I was able to cut one and put it in the room for my houseguest/friend and one in the kitchen for me. This is a magical bush that blooms over and over until October.


  • June 5, 2009, 4:55 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    Arie – I love these exercises! YOU can NEVER share too much!!!

    I especially want to try listening to the silence, which is like, when we learn to draw, teaching ourselves to see the negative space. I will be practicing this today!

    Mmm… such lovely smells you all are describing. But isn't it interesting how hard it is to find words for smells. Descriptions of smells are usually descriptions of other things, like "smokey," or "fruity." Smells don't have their own unique terminology like, say, visual things do, that everyone more or less agrees on: "red" or "sparkling" or "dark."

    This is another fascinating idea that Diane Ackerman points out.
    – Beth

  • June 5, 2009, 11:48 am joanna brightbrook

    I want to chime in regarding smell, tho it is after the fact . . .

    Several weeks ago I found myself extremely sensitive to smell, and of course the "repulsive" ones were bringing up a lot of negativity for me. I felt closed down by these smells! It was an illuminating exercise to open up and breathe deeply such things as mildew and dog pee. And to let go of my negative associations with them.

    So an exercise I propose is to smell unpleasant things and to consiously let go of judgements around those smells. Say: "this is what banannas left on the counter several days too long smell like." Instead of "ugh! I've got to get rid og those brown banannas."

    BTW: Arie, I LOVE your wild food safety procedures! I was always nibbling on plants as a child and found some delicous ones . . . never got sick from doing that.

  • June 5, 2009, 4:22 pm ARIE

    Joanna, as children we are connected to the divine and know what is right for us.
    Then modern life turns us into machines.
    Some of us never totally loose the connection. Then we wake up and have to do some work to reclaim and regain what was forgotten.

    But I would recommend for someone not used with this kind of work, to be very careful with tasting. If the younger self is not used to it, then don't do it.
    As a start pick up something you don't know. Meditate and connect with it. Touch/smell/energy field. Obtain as much information as you can. Then look it up in a book to check your readings from the plant. After some practice it is possible to carefully start tasting.
    But carefully!!!